A Psycho-analysis of Cassie Howard - I Know What She's Going Through
BY LIZI OLDHAM
Y’all want her to make better decisions, but I know what she’s going through.
28 FEB - 2021
“Here’s the thing, broken people make broken decisions.”
We’re now well into the second season of Euphoria with only one episode to go. This season, more so than the last, has seen a deeper dive into the history and psyche of some of the teen characters in everyone’s favourite show.
Exploring drug abuse, sexual exploration and mental illness we’ve seen our favourite characters, though already flawed, unravel even further.
While the hit show is well known for it’s shocking and raw scenes, *queue erect penis’, graphic fight scenes and drug use*. What we’ve witnessed unfold over the past few weeks has not only shocked, but for some, made them question the very threads of their own identities.
Most people I talk to have either had an experience with someone similar to one of our key characters, or like myself, can see the flaws in these characters through their own lived experiences.
The cast of Euphoria have shown a unique ability to bring Sam Levinson's vision to life in a way that reaches deep into my soul and at times causes a guttural reaction.
One particular story line that has divided fans this season is Sydney Sweeny’s Cassie.
Sydney’s portrayal of Cassie this season is impeccable.
Her ability to balance the sweet vulnerability with the erratic and often questionable behaviour of her character is nothing short of astonishing and for someone who has experienced self worth issues, she’s made it difficult to watch.
Cassie, the beautiful bombshell from a broken home. Growing up, her father abandoned her and her sister, not once, but twice. When he was in hospital she spent as much time with him as she could, only for him to betray her and leave again. From this, stems her lack of self-worth, her overbearing people-pleasing and her many uncomfortable and twisted breakdowns.
Having experienced abandonment issues in my own life surrounding my adoption, watching Cassie spiral this season has made me feel both uncomfortable and ashamed. But I’ve been able to empathise with her character in a way many just can’t understand.
Watching Cassie get so lost in her self-worth to a toxic man is also something I know well - the constant checking of your phone, the spirals and her overwhelming lack of self-worth. It’s difficult to witness her unraveling with an understanding of how it can transpire. And while I’ve never vomited over my friends in a spa on their birthday, my teenage years and even into my 20’s were spent, losing myself in similar patterns of toxicity, trying to find a sense of belonging, and falling down many a rabbit hole of self-destruction.
The long-knowing pain of believing you’re never good enough mixed with trauma and abandonment issues I experienced make watching Cassie's journey incredibly raw and confronting. It also gives me a sense of acknowledgment for what I went through myself.
For years Hollywood was obsessed with the Manic Pixie girl, from Effy in Skins to Summer in 500 Days of Summer.
Here’s the thing, broken people make broken decisions. It doesn't make it ok, but what Euphoria breaks down for its viewers is that mental illness, personality disorders and drug abuse often stem from difficult and/or traumatic experiences that have serious implications, particularly in teens.
Euphoria explores these complex issues with a raw emotion so many show’s before have tried yet failed to do before. More often than not, we have seen mental health issues displayed on-screen as a way to enhance a female character's vulnerable allure and in turn, trivialized the very issues they are attempting to explore.
For years Hollywood was obsessed with the 'Manic Pixie Girl,' from Effy in Skins to Summer in 500 Days of Summer, the manic pixie girl was everywhere and, for the most part, glamourised some of the very issues Euphoria so perfectly delves into.
As controversial as the show is for its brutally realistic portrayal of these issues, I believe Euphoria has something to teach everyone. Whether that be a shocking mirror of your (past) self or an eye-opening introduction into the teenage psyche of today.
It’s an uncomfortable watch, it’s anxiety-inducing, unbearably tense and it’s graphic. But if you haven’t already, I urge you to push through the uncomfortableness and to really allow yourself to get to know these flawed characters.
Levinson's aim was to create more awareness and empathy for these topics and from my humble opinion, he’s doing just that.