How much of Jules and Rue’s relationship on Euphoria is real?

Hunter Schafer, Zendaya in Euphoria - Photo Courtesy of Eddy Chen/HBO
Hunter Schafer, Zendaya in Euphoria - Photo Courtesy of Eddy Chen/HBO /

Rue’s unreliability as a narrator on Euphoria could affect our perception of her relationship with Jules

Rue is in love with Jules, and Jules is in love with Rue. That’s a fact on HBO’s Euphoria.

A fact so palpable and irrefutable, it’s rooted in the very core of the series. Their relationship is as integral to the show’s storytelling as its themes of addiction, abuse, survival, sexuality, coming of age, and trauma. One only needs to look to Euphoria‘s two-part Christmas/winter special to see the truth of this if the entirety of season one wasn’t clue enough on its own.

But when we last left them, the two had been separated by a choice to either stay or go. Jules stuck to the plan Rue devised and ran away to the city. Rue chose to stay. In making disparate decisions, the girls’ relationship fractured and Rue broke her sobriety.

It’s a tragic beat in their relationship laden with miscommunication, fear, and a misunderstanding of the other’s feelings. It’s also one that’s heavily implied to not be as clear cut as the season one finale led us to believe.

Hunter Schafer, Zendaya in Euphoria — Courtesy of Eddy Chen/HBO /

Euphoria: Rue’s reality vs. what the audience has seen

Part one of the Euphoria special, entitled “Trouble Don’t Last Always,” opens with Rue waking Jules with good luck kisses for her upcoming interview. The scene is an idealized glimpse into the life Rue believed she and Jules would have together.

In her mind, they’d have a tiny, cramped apartment–their knick-knacks, trinkets, clothes, and art supplies scattered across various surfaces–and they’d be happy. Or at least Rue would be making Jules happy and curiously be devoid of anything that brought her joy other than the girl she loves.

The cute and loving moment Rue imagines is abruptly dashed by her immediate drug use once Jules leaves for her interview, crash landing us into reality and a diner bathroom where Rue is getting high right before Christmas Eve pancakes with her sponsor Ali.

The next hour enfolds much like a play as Rue and Ali work through conversations on loss, hopelessness, relapses, revolutions, family, suicidal ideation, and love. The slow pace of the episode allows for a peeling back of Rue’s layers, grounding her in the uneven footing of a young girl who has simultaneously written herself out of life and cast herself as the villain or victim in other people’s stories.

Rue is a walking contradiction, as most people are, but especially those who are lost. Part of her off-kilter characterization stems from how young she is despite life, loss, and addiction aging her more than some of her peers. The girl is nearly all bluster and bark hiding an aching fragility and vulnerability that makes her anxious and scared of the indifferent and often cruel world around her.

She’s also a romantic whose fantasies, as revealed to us, might as well be reality for how much she believes in their ability to come true. To Rue, a talk about getting matching lip tattoos with Jules is an indication of permanence in each other’s lives, not a whim. Kissing and affection mean a mutual romantic connection that’s exclusive. Pillow talk about the future, living together, and spending the rest of their lives with one another isn’t just nighttime dreams or wishes meant to fade in the morning. They’re real, darn near promises that have the ability to hurt her if broken.

But as outsiders looking in, we and Ali can see the cracks in the story Rue has told herself. She and Jules have never been completely on the same page when it comes to their feelings. Rue has always been ahead, wanting too much too fast, and admittedly relying on Jules for her emotional stability which she knows is dangerous.

Zendaya spoke to this issue, in the featurette for part one of the special, stating, “Rue fell in love with this idea of something that she never actually was clear about. I think both of them don’t know or have the emotional understanding to be able to have a conversation about how they feel. With that comes a lot of miscommunication.”

In the season finale, Rue wasn’t happy or thrilled about Jules hooking up with another girl, but she didn’t tell Jules that she was hurt, felt betrayed, or cheated on. It wasn’t until the special that we got this perspective from her, and it added another dimension to how we should view the girls’ relationship i.e. that Rue is not as reliable a narrator as we thought.

What does this mean for Jules?

Seeing how skewed Rue’s view of what happened is puts into question everything we’ve seen between the two thus far from her perspective. Though it’s my opinion that much of it is real, from their immediate connection to the deep and terrifying love the girls feel for each other. But I’m also of the mind that Rue’s tendency to romanticize and self-protect can blind her to Jules’ feelings and her own actions.

In the special, she blames Jules for her relapse despite having stashed away pills just in case she needs them. Rue also says Jules manipulated her and wasn’t listening to her, completely skipping over the fact it was her idea to run away and that changing her mind at the last second wasn’t ideal either. But at the same time, Rue misses Jules desperately and plays the song Jules sent her–“Me in 20 Years” by Moses Sumney–with an ‘I miss you’ text.

Considering the song’s opening lyrics:

"Hey, after all these yearsI’m still here, fingers outstretchedWith your imprint in my bedA pit so big I lay on the edgeWill love let me down again?Oh no, no, it won’t get inI’m left wonderin’If it’s written on my urnThat I’ll burn aloneLike a starI wonder how I’ll sleep at nightWith a cavity by my sideAnd nothing left to hold but pride, will IHold out for more time?"

It’s safe to say that Jules is just as heartbroken as Rue, and we’ll need her perspective to get the full picture of what’s going on between these two. Thankfully part two of the special, entitled “F*ck Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob,” will be focused on Jules. We’ll have to wait until Sunday, January 24 to see it, but the wait will be worth it, we’re sure.

Hunter Schafer and series creator Sam Levinson wrote the episode together. When talking about the two-part special, Levinson told GQ:

"I always imagined these episodes as a two-part piece focusing on Rue and Jules separately. And there was some point in time in which I read that the character of Jules was trending on Twitter because people were debating whether she was a villain or not. The idea that people could watch the show and walk away feeling that she was a villain was so appalling to me that I thought, “I’m gonna write an episode that forces the audience to look at the world through her eyes and understand the burden of loving an addict.”"

Though we know very little about what to expect from Jules’ side of things, it’s clear that her emotions are going to be just as confused, hurt, and complicated as Rue’s.

In the featurette, Schafer talked about how she sees Jules’ perspective on their relationship, stating, “Jules feels the pressure of Rue’s sobriety resting on her. I think Jules is really worried that if she makes the wrong move with Rue, it could go straight back to relapsing. And that’s countered with the two of them being very in love.”

Both girls are romantics and dreamers even though they express themselves in different ways. Hopefully, if not in the conclusion of the special then in season two, the two girls get to a better place with one another even if that sees them being romantically apart for awhile.

Next. Euphoria special episode review. dark

What did you think about part one of the Euphoria Christmas special? Serve up your thoughts in the comments below!