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Zendaya's HBO drama Euphoria dominated summer headlines with its visually stunning, emotionally draining treatise on gen Z adolescence. The latest in a long history of beloved "shocking" youth dramas in the vein of the UK's Skins and Canada's Degrassi: The Next Generation, it seemed like the United States would finally have a seminal teen soap to call their own. Then, we realized that Euphoria is actually an adaptation of an Israeli series of the same name — who knew? HBO's Euphoria differs from its source material in a major way, but don't explore these twenty differences between Euphoria and its Israeli counterpart unless you're prepared for season one spoilers and a whole lotta fan theories.
Just to clarify: Rue is 100 percent, absolutely not dead. Although the first season's musical relapse seemed open to interpretation, series creator Sam Levinson told The Hollywood Reporter that our girl is alive, although it's safe to say she's not exactly "well." A popular fan theory explained by Redditor xxxElQueso posited that Rue was narrating the season from beyond the grave, based on the big reveal during the Israeli Euphoria's final episode. On the original series, Rue is explaining the events that led to her eleventh-hour death.
None of the Israeli characters can be considered exact copies of their American counterparts, so it's hard to say which of the Israeli characters would be considered the "Nate" or "Jules" characters based on the little information floating around online. Still, Twitter user @koobbbiiii educated the masses on Euphoria Israel's dramatic ending. The original series' version of Nate kills Jules while Rue watches. No, thank you. It looked like HBO's Euphoria was leading up to a violent confrontation between Nate and Jules multiple times during Euphoria's first season, so we're not convinced this isn't going to happen during the course of the series.
Another bombshell from @koobbbiiii on Twitter: Ashtray kills Nate. The child drug dealer Ashtray is one of the closest parallels between the original Euphoria and its HBO sister series, although Israel's Ashtray had a much larger role. Redditor chenofzurenarrh expands on @koobbbiiii's revelation by explaining that Ashtray killed Nate in retaliation for years of bullying. Ashtray films the murder and live streams it online, which is more messed up than anything we've seen on the American remake thus far.
A fake *ss homie leaked Sam Levinson's original pilot ahead of Euphoria's finale, and fans were convinced it contained major spoilers for the end of season one. Heavy shared that Rue's voice-overs were envisioned as Rue narrating the events that lead up to Nate's murder in a cornfield off Route 38. Unlike on Israel's Euphoria, this time Rue was Nate's murderer. Sam could cycle back to this storyline on future seasons, but Rue's character doesn't seem like the "murders people in a cornfield type" as she exists now. Still, it looks like Nate won't be making it out of this series alive, statistically speaking.
The Israeli Euphoria and the American remake are so dissimilar, it's hard to be shocked by HBO's drastic plot departures. Still, Redditor chenofzurenarrh's casual explanation that Nate was Rue's ex-boyfriend on the original show is so disparate from our knowledge of Euphoria's characters that we were utterly shook. Nate's Israeli counterpart was a terrible dude, much like the Nate we know and hate on Euphoria USA, but this factoid shows how little Zendaya's Rue and the character played by Ronnie Dalumi on the original series have in common outside of their shared addiction issues.
Angus Cloud captured America's hearts as Fezco, the friendly neighborhood drug dealer with a heartbreaking resemblance to Mac Miller. When @koobbbiiii tweeted that Fez's Israeli counterpart rapes Rue after realizing she doesn't care about him, people were appalled that the blueprint for our favorite character could ever stoop so low. Fez was only giving Rue drugs because he wanted to have sex with her, as Rue's Israeli blueprint was promiscuous and regularly chatted with Fez about her hookups. When his "nice guy" act doesn't seduce Rue, Fez assaults her.
Another big difference between America's sweetheart and Euphoria Israel's Fezco is, well, his *entire characterization*. Fez isn't a high school dropout on the original series, he's a wannabee pilot who only dabbled in drugs because he was trying to alter his brain chemistry. When psychedelics don't do the trick, Fez and his uncle perform an operation that removes the part of Fez's brain responsible for fear. Redditor chenofzurenarrh explains that his experiment worked, and the newly psychopathic Fez turns on Rue. This doesn't sound anything like our Fezco, thank God.
In response to a question from @shipposeumoney on Twitter, @koobbbiiii (who seems to be the only person on social media who's actually seen the original show) revealed that Cassie, McKay, and Maddy don't exist on the Israeli Euphoria. It makes sense that McKay, whose entire storyline revolves around American football, wouldn't have a counterpart on the original series, and it seems like Cassie was invented alongside McKay and Maddy's stories since she barely interacts with Rue, Jules, or Nate. We're pretty bummed there's no Israeli version of Maddy, a baddie icon for any country or generation.
Talking about our generation, HBO's Euphoria was marketed as a portrait of gen Z, the mysterious new era of teens who have grown up surrounded by technology in a world that has been destroyed by everyone who came before them. Israel's Euphoria jumps back a few decades to explore gen X, the ironic, detached doomsday prophets that came before millennials. Despite being released in 2012, Israel's Euphoria follows the teens of the nineties, looking back on a generation instead of trying to define one.
While HBO's Euphoria figured a deep-dive into teen angst, drug addiction, sexuality, and mental health was more than enough content to build a television show, the original series took all of this (and more!) and decided to throw a central murder plot in the mix for good measure. In Tedy's description of the Israeli series ahead of its premiere, we learned that the protagonists of the original Euphoria didn't know each other until they all witnessed a teen-on-teen murder outside of a nightclub. Euphoria's story picks up a year later and examines how that night has affected each of Euphoria's anti-heroes.
The murder Euphoria's Israeli characters witnessed was based on a true crime from 2004, Times of Israel learned. The original series even kept the victim's name, Raanan, in homage to the real teen who was murdered. The Jerusalem Post reported that Raanan was chatting with a girl outside of a club near Netanya when her boyfriend and his friends, alleged gang members, suspected Raanan of flirting, chased him down in a Jeep, and stabbed him in the heart.
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While the Israeli version was based on a true crime, so much of HBO's series is modeled after American creator Sam Levinson's life and made to fit actors like Hunter Schafer and Zendaya that HBO's Euphoria takes more from Sam's memories than the foreign series it was supposedly based on. Rue's drug problem was inspired by Sam's personal experiences as an addict, and Sam told Entertainment Weekly that moments like Jules threatening Nate with a kitchen knife were pulled directly from his teen years.
Euphoria's first season revealed that Rue's drug dependency started in response to her father's terminal illness as her deep grief mixed with a cacophony of mental health issues. On Israel's Euphoria, Rue's counterpart had been using drugs for less than a year, and her addiction was fueled by feelings of guilt after her boyfriend killed some random guy just for talking to her. The show's Israeli Wikipedia page also shares that Rue's guilt leads her to self-harm, and she moves into Jules's home during her downward spiral. We realize Wikipedia isn't the most reliable source, but with so few details about Euphoria's original series online, we'll take what we can get.
HOT3's Israeli series has its fans, but general consensus is that the original Euphoria wasn't exactly a high-quality production. A reviewer at Haaretz who seemed to be the only person on Earth that legitimately prefers the Israeli show to HBO's take even admitted that visually comparing the two series is like "the difference between a cave painting and a Hieronymus Bosch," but it wasn't just that good HBO money that set Euphoria's aesthetic apart. One Redditor, babybabywow, said that the Israeli Euphoria's production was cheap even compared to other Israeli shows and that HOT3 is the worst cable company in the country.
The original Israeli Euphoria only had ten episodes, and Redditor babybabywow attributed this to Israeli audiences being unfamiliar with teen soaps as a television genre and unreceptive to the general idea of the series. Still, judging from the show's bloody finale where the Israeli blueprints for Nate, Jules, and Rue all die, Fezco becomes a rapist, and Ashtray essentially admits to murder, showrunners weren't planning on a second season either way. With no heroes left, it's not like there was much more of a story for the series to tell. Lucky for us, HBO's Euphoria has been renewed for a second season — oh, the places they'll go.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks irreversibly changed life in America, but Israel's Euphoria series also addressed the world-shattering 2001 tragedy despite being set in the '90s. Series creator Ron Leshem told an Israeli news outlet that Euphoria's first episode begins by exploring how millennials that saw "people jumping from the Twin Towers" at age eight would cope with life at age 17. He also explained that he chooses to write about worlds or experiences he feels that he missed out on, which might explain why his series ultimately took place before the terrorist attack occurred. HBO's adaptation also starts with a mention of the tragedy, with Rue explaining that she was born three days after 9/11 and her parents spent most of their time in the hospital grieving. Gen Z is the first generation to grow up without any knowledge of the world before 9/11 and has thus experienced adolescence in a fundamentally different way than anyone who came before them.
There's been no mention of military service on HBO's Euphoria, but there's also no mandatory military conscription in the United States, which might explain the complete erasure of a character from Euphoria's source material. National military service is mandatory for Israeli citizens over 18 (provided they're not Arab or Orthodox), but as The Jerusalem Post reported in 2018, draft evasion has skyrocketed in the past twenty years. The Israeli Euphoria featured an IDF defector who gives advice to our heroes before he's caught by military police. There's also a less likable military character who serves as a supervisor at an army boarding school and tries to perform conversion therapy on other characters.
The Israeli version of Euphoria took a page out of Charlie Brown's book when dealing with their adult characters. Variety reported that part of the appeal in adapting Euphoria was that HBO's Drama SVP was interested in "what might exist when parents don't exist," and the Israeli series' Wikipedia page describes any adult appearances as being rare and filmed at an angle that conceals their faces. The jury is still out on whether they only ever said, "Wah Wa Wa Wah." HBO did choose to include parents in their telling of Rue's story with her mother Leslie featuring heavily in the story, her father's illness instigating her drug addiction, and Nate's father hooking up with underage transgender women.
Another bombshell from the Israeli show's Wikipedia page, Kat's predecessor is also an overweight teen who follows a friend's advice to have more casual sex even though she secretly just wants to be loved for herself. Unlike the character we know and love, Euphoria's source material ended with Kat being diagnosed with HIV. There was enough trauma going on during Euphoria's first season finale without Kat contracting a chronic STD, and we hope HBO doesn't do our girl Kat dirty like this in future seasons.
Hunter Schafer's transgender character Jules is one of HBO's most beloved additions to Euphoria. Jules is such an integral part of the series, it's surprising that Israel's original production didn't include any transgender characters or even a lesbian principal character. It seems like Jules was adapted from the character "Kino." Kino lives alone because his parents are on a mission in Shanghai, and he spends most of his time dreaming about his deceased friend Raanan and an imaginary trip to South America. Kino befriends Rue and lets her live with him at his parentless apartment. Israel's Euphoria does include multiple gay characters, but HBO's adaptation shows how far the media has come in portrayals of LGBTQ youth (and how far we have to go).