Is the HBO series Euphoria good or bad? Is its dominant narrative revolving around a group of cisgender female and trans femme teenagers progressive? Or does it engage in exploitation when its characters suffer in grand, frightening ways? Does its harrowing depiction of drug use, sexual violence and other trauma make it honest or irresponsible? Sometimes it’s difficult to sort out. But we do know that its cast, led by the impressive Zendaya, is giving it their all, and the dreamily hazy music video qualities it possesses make it seem highly attractive even as it depicts a fairly brutal vision of adolescence. And now there’ll be a season two – thank goodness, because all its story lines ended in cliffhangers – so when we gather up our courage to dive back into the relentlessly grim teenage tragedy, it’ll probably already be waiting for us. We’ll be on board in the anticipation of a hopeful, if not necessarily happy, ending for these kids. They deserve it.
The classic Stephen Sondheim musical Merrily We Roll Along is the story of friends whose show business careers span 20 years. When the action begins they are middle-aged, successful, estranged and unhappy. And then the story moves back in time, little by little, ending with a powerfully moving final act that sees them all headstrong young comrades full of hope and belief in the power of that friendship. Well, who better to film this sort of years-spanning saga than Richard Linklater, the man who shot his adolescent epic Boyhood over the course of 12 years with the same actors, allowing his main character to grow up before the audience’s eyes. This time, though, the shooting schedule – already in progress – will last two decades, and twentysomething stars Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hanson), Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart) and Blake Jenner (Glee) will shoot the beginning of the film sometime in the late 2030s, when they’ve reached actual middle age, for a theatrical release sometime close to 2040. Now let’s hope that there are still theaters in 2040 and that climate change has been adequately addressed so that there’s still an audience. Happy waiting!