One of the most interesting aspects of “Euphoria” is the way the characters are developed. It tries to decipher complex human emotions, particularly those of high school teenagers who are unsure of who they are or what they want to be. The first element that creates a point of differentiation for Euphoria among the other coming-of-age films or series is the storytelling.
From the distrustful narrator (Rue) to the way the visual language is used to complement the narrative, we learn about every character from Rue’s perspective, something that can often make the audience question the biases of the narrator. Even though every character in this series is complicated, Nate and Cassie top the list of complexities. In this article, we will try to understand the characters and how their past affects the present.
Understanding The Character of Nate Jacobs And Cassie Howards
Nate Jacobs is perhaps the most hated character throughout the two seasons, and the reasons are obvious. He embodies the toxicity in men that women are vehemently refusing to accept in this day and age. Even though there is a past involved with this deeply flawed attitude, it can never be an excuse. In the first season of “Euphoria,” Rue described that the kinds of women Nate was attracted to were those who wore tennis skirts, had no body hair, wore ballet shoes or sandals, and smelled of fresh fruit. He hated women who wore sneakers and looked, sat, or talked like boys. Although Maddy fitted his idea of perfection, their love was destructive. Jealousy was what turned them on, and they always found their way back to each other, even after multiple breakups.
Nate was eleven when he saw his father’s adult video collection. Nate watched his father engage in sexual acts at a young age, and that affected his mental health to a great extent. His homophobia can also be traced to this past. Maybe it was after watching his father with young men and transwomen that he developed a hate for queer people. At the age of twelve, Nate started working out and following a strict diet to fulfill his father’s dream of becoming a star quarterback. But his disgust for his father continued. Nate also misbehaved with Jules in “Euphoria” Season 1, simply because she was a transwoman. He later found a video recording of his father and Jules. He then created an online persona, Tyler, and started flirting with her. He was threatened by the fact that Jules knew his father’s secret and might reveal it to others. He wanted to protect his family from the embarrassment, but more than anything, he could not accept his father’s truth.
When Nate met Jules as Tyler, he tried to treat her the way his father did in the video, but she stopped him. He blackmailed her with her nudes. He threatened her to keep his father’s secret hidden. He even used her as a witness to blame the real Tyler for choking Maddy. In “Euphoria” Season 2, when Nate gave the CD to Jules, he expressed that he had genuine feelings for her. Jules, in return, said that she, too, felt the same way. Even though Nate wanted to hate Jules for her identity, he could not help himself from feeling a romantic inclination towards her.
In “Euphoria” Season 2, Nate fell in love with Cassie, or at least that is what we can conclude. Cassie was the perfect woman, according to him, one who was submissive, dressed up the way he liked, and could be the perfect wife that he always desired. Unlike Maddy, who was extremely confident and dominant, Cassie could be molded the way Nate desired. By the end of the season, the two had entered into a relationship. Cassie was glad to be owned by Nate. After all, she was even ready to dress up as Maddy to catch his eyes. But Nate continued to experience those nightmares in which he used to be his father’s victim. His relationship with Cassie did not help him overcome his fear. Nate used to think about Maddie and Jules when he made love to Cassie. When Lexi insulted him in her play, he was quick to break up with Cassie.
Even though Nate got his father arrested for video recording his sexual experiences, he simply wanted his father to suffer. He wanted him to pay for his childhood trauma and for the person he had become. He could not accept that his father was living his life on his terms when he was failing to do so. Nate cannot accept himself; he refuses to be the man he has always hated.
Cassie wanted to embody every virtue that one could associate with a woman (before feminism took the world by storm). The perfect woman, according to her, was perhaps the one who could be loved and adored by the people around her. Someone sweet, innocent, caring, and did not have many opinions about life. She was aware of her beauty and enjoyed the attention that men around her gave her. She did not have any aspirations in life, she simply wanted to be a good wife, a caring mother who would stay at home and look after her family. Cassie did not want to be like her mother, Suze. She had always seen her parents argue, her mother was mostly drunk, and her father was absent. In Lexi’s play, we also get to witness how even when her father was not in his right state of mind, Cassie wanted to trust him and support him. The image of a perfect family was what she dreamt of. She last saw her father, a week before her fifteenth birthday. He stole spoons and plates and left the house. Her father was a drug addict, and they were unaware of his whereabouts. Her father’s abandonment deeply affected her mental health. When Cassie got pregnant with McKay’s child, she wanted to keep the baby but had to decide otherwise when her boyfriend did not support her.
When Cassie found Nate, she could finally picture her perfect family coming to life. He was the man who could take care of her and provide for her while she would play the role of a good wife. Cassie believed in fairytales, and every time her bubble was poked, she would turn furious. She knew the kind of person Nate was, but she simply wanted to be loved by him no matter what. She gave up on her friendship and her family to be with him. While they were somehow perfect for each other, Nate was dreaming about other women. Cassie had warned Nate that she could be dangerous if she wanted to, and after their break up at the end of “Euphoria” Season 2, we can expect some foul play from Cassie’s end.