“It was easily one of the most cathartic artistic experiences I have ever had in my entire life,” exclaims Hunter Schafer in regard to co-writing the “Euphoria” special “F*** Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Blob,” which debuted on HBO in January. In addition to co-penning the special with series creator Sam Levinson, Schafer served as co-producer and reprised her role of Jules Vaughn. In our exclusive video interview (watch above), she discusses the intention between this special, how she approached it as a writer, and how she pulled off the high-wire act of juggling acting, producing and writing.
Its debut season having aired in the summer of 2019, “Euphoria” was originally scheduled to commence production on its second season last spring, but was unable to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To bridge the resulting big gap between the first and second installments, Levinson developed two specials — the first one of which aired in December and is titled “Trouble Don’t Last Always” — that essentially serve as full-blown character studies of Rue (Zendaya) and Jules, respectively. For the latter’s special, Schafer explains that she and Levinson were interested in exploring where they left Jules “off as a character” at the end of the first season.
The special deals directly with the aftermath of the season 1 finale, which concludes with Rue deciding not to get on the train and thereby not to skip town with Jules. Centering on Jules’ first therapy session, the episode “connects multiple threads,” Schafer underlines, pointing to particularly Jules’ history with her family, her relationship with Rue and her being cruelly catfished by Nate (Jacob Elordi). “They all connect pretty deeply and affect each other,” Schafer continues.
Viewers learn that Jules’ complicated feelings about Rue, in fact, closely resemble those she has about her own mother. During her recovery from addiction during the events of season 1, her mother is revealed to have relapsed upon overhearing Jules admit that she cannot forgive her for abandoning her as a child. Even though Jules therefore feels resentful over the burden of having to preserve Rue’s sobriety by being constantly available to her, “she’s never felt the kind of love she shares with Rue before,” Schafer describes. She’s never felt so “safe and seen by someone,” she underscores, elucidating that Jules tries to cope “in the hopes of maintaining the beautiful parts” of that relationship.
With respect to her writing process, Schafer admits that despite “not knowing, or having training in, screenwriting,” she took Shonda Rhimes‘ “Teaching Writing for Television” MasterClass in preparation for this special. She explains that it was “impossible” to keep the writing, production and acting processes apart, as “they all feel so tied into each other.” In terms of how writing the episode influenced her work as an actor, Schafer reveals: “A lot of the work that I would have to do as an actor was already accomplished.”
For its first season, “Euphoria” raked in six Emmy Award nominations and three victories, including for Best Drama Actress for Zendaya. Even though the show cannot compete for its second season at this year’s ceremony, as it’s still currently in production, it will contend for its two specials, which fall under the orphaned episodes rule. Per this rule, the show is eligible exclusively in categories that recognize single-episode achievements. This excludes the drama series and main acting categories but includes the drama writing category, in which Schafer and Levinson are being submitted for their shared effort. If they were to be nominated, they would both celebrate their inaugural Emmy citations.
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