You’ll be hard-pressed to find current shows as show-stopping and gripping as Euphoria. The performances are gut-wrenching, the cinematography is groundbreaking, and the story drives it all. Since its inception, Euphoria stood out from all the rest. How so? Read our breakdown of the Euphoria pilot script below to learn how Euphoria pushes the bounds of television and earns its place on millions of screens.
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Euphoria Pilot Script PDF Download
Click to view and download the entire Euphoria Pilot script PDF below.
WHO WROTE Euphoria Pilot SCRIPT?
Written by Sam Levinson
Son of Academy Award-winning director Barry Levinson, the Euphoria writer has been on the filmmaking scene for quite some time. While he is best known for his work on Euphoria, he has also written and directed films such as Assassination Nation and Malcolm & Marie.
STRUCTURE OF euphoria pilot SCREENPLAY
Here is the story structure for Euphoria Pilot screenplay:
We meet Rue, and learn about the inception of her mental illness, as well as her discovering the “full potential” of her meds and using them more recreationally. Rue tells us that Nate Jacobs is dead, she killed him, and it all started when Jules moved to town.
We get a glimpse of Nate’s terrifying run-in with Jules at McKay’s party. We also see Nate and McKay hang out beforehand; they talk about Maddy, Nate’s ex (who he wants to get back at for breaking up with him) who is coming to the party.
We meet Kat and learn about her friendship with Jules and Maddy. We get a hint of Jules’s private life with men on hook-up apps, and Maddy (Kat’s other close friend) and Kat prep for McKay’s party (which Nate is attending). Rue’s mother makes Rue take a drug test and reminds her of the time her younger sister found her unresponsive after overdosing.
Nate and McKay talk about Cassie, a girl with a bad reputation whom McKay is interested in. Jules meets up a a motel with an older man she met on a hook-up app. Nate and Maddy try to make each other jealous. Kat hooks up with someone at the party, and we see Nate and Jules’s full confrontation, after which Rue and Jules meet.
Rue and Jules go back to Jules’s house. Later, Rue is being questioned by the police about Nate’s murder. We learn the man Jules’s met up with at the motel is Nate’s dad.
Euphoria Script Takeaway #1
Euphoria action and description
The Euphoria pilot is particularly descriptive, and not just because it includes various camera directions (we’ll touch more on that shortly). Generally speaking, there is a common thread throughout the Euphoria pilot script that elevates the voice of the writer himself.
We imported the Euphoria pilot screenplay into StudioBinder’s screenwriting software to dig a little deeper into how the writing helps the pilot really shine.
Your action, first and foremost, should be clear. It’s impossible to please every reader, but your reader should never be confused about what is literally occurring in the scene. Does that mean you need to be clinical and unimaginative with your descriptions? Absolutely not.
Levinson does a fantastic job here of adding his own flavor to the action, beyond the camera directions he specifies.
Let’s look at one moment in particular:
This excerpt is two lines long, and it specifies action that could have been described in maybe less than half the time: “A baby curls up and braces itself.” The action is clear, but it’s certainly not as entertaining.
Truth be told, a lot of writers prefer to be succinct if given the option. But what especially works here is that Levinson makes the read itself enjoyable.
What’s more, he establishes a relationship with the reader as he speaks to us as if we’re his friend, or at the very least someone with whom he wants to share a very crazy story.
Levinson continues the action in the scene employing that same tool. In addition to using pretty vivid descriptions, he knows how to write sound effects in a script (crunching, sloshing water, suction, etc.) or when Rue is born (“A PIN OF LIGHT as we go rushing toward it, like a subway train out of hell.”).
The evocative nature of Levinson’s voice is literally constant in the Euphoria pilot, and reminds us that while we want our work to be produced, reading the script can and should be entertaining.
Euphoria Script Takeaway #2
The Euphoria pilot has a decent number of characters to juggle. After all, pilots essentially aim to teach you everything (or everyone) you need to know in order to watch the rest of the series (a tool you can use to make your pilot memorable). So how does Sam Levinson do it in the pilot?
Let’s take a look at how to write character introductions.
Most writers have their own formula for character introductions. Of course, there are the basic things to include like name (in all caps), their age or age range, and some kind of physical description, but what else can you include?
In the above character introductions, there is an additional and crucial element that give us exactly what we need to know about these characters the exact moment we meet them, and that is the character-defining action.
Rue winks and snorts Klonopin off of her space-themed computer case. Through this action, we get a sense of her personality through the wink, and her struggles to come through the Klonopin.
When we meet Jules, we get a sense of her outlook on life through pieces of her unorthodox outfit whipping in the wind behind her as she rides a bike.
And of course, when we meet Nate, we immediately understand his aggression and volatility through his first action, which, in addition to being wasted, consists of him yelling threatening obscenities at Jules (who Levinson has already established as kind and genuine, not looking for trouble).
Through short but detailed introductions to characters, we learn who they are, and not just because of what they are wearing (I mean, would you be completely figured out based on what you wore in high school?). When we see what characters do and how they do it, we get a sense of how they see the world, what they enjoy in life, how they interact with those around them.
And the best takeaway from this is that all you need to include in your character introductions is one simple action in order to give a snapshot of who this character is.
Euphoria Script Takeaway #3
Euphoria plot changes
If you’ve already watched (and maybe now read) the Euphoria pilot script, you’ve obviously noticed one massive difference between the two: Nate Jacobs is dead, and Rue committed his murder.
While the writer is also the showrunner and theoretically has more creative control over the production of his script, there are a number of reasons why he may have made this change before production.
The murder occurs about a month after we meet Nate in the pilot. Of course, we know the show and even the pilot script itself are not afraid to jump backward or forward in time. It’s not unreasonable to assume they could have added more flashbacks with Nate even if they did “kill him off.”
But as it stands, the Euphoria we’ve come to know has given Nate a lot of dynamic character growth (okay, maybe deterioration is a better word). As such, Levinson has found Euphoria particularly meaningful in that it helps give empathy to the current teen generation.
Euphoria is an adaptation of an Israeli show of the same name. In combination with Levinson’s own experiences, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume the show inspired Levinson to add his own modern take to address fundamental differences between Gen Z and, well, everyone else.
Check out the video below to learn more about how Levinson made those tough decisions when bringing Euphoria to life.
Euphoria does have a surrealist approach to visuals as Levinson states, but ultimately, he has placed a heavy focus on authentic, realistic story-telling (even if the story is shocking). A fantastic example of this highly stylized realism in the Euphoria pilot screenplay would be when Rue is high at the house party. Check out the excerpt below before we dive in.
Typically, loads of writers will tell you to not include camera direction in your script (and hey, that’s a valid approach to writing action as well). Here, perhaps especially since he would be the executive producer, Levinson leans into the vision he has for his action when it plays out onscreen.
First, we see the description of the feel of this scene:
the “druggy teenage equivalent of the Fred Astaire dance scene.”
Immediately, Levinson puts readers in the headspace to understand fundamentally how the following moments should resonate tonally.
Then he continues by explaining what Rue is actually doing: crawling, weaving, falling, and ultimately coming back to where the rest of the party has remained this entire time (on the ground). Here's the scene.
Moments like these set Euphoria apart from other depictions of drug use because it presents us with unique visuals that are motivated by the story above all else. Could it have been an intriguing scene if the production had not literally made the set rotate for Zendaya to crawl around in? Sure.
Could it have been thrilling to see Zendaya in a suddenly-animated, cotton-candy funhouse version of her experience being high at this party? Probably. But the importance of this moment lies in the balance between the stylized depiction of Rue’s high and the genuine experience of her journey.
The Euphoria pilot clearly went through some major changes before production. And as wild as it would have been to follow Rue’s journey and piece together Nate’s murder, it’s quite possible that the show would have become just that: a show about Rue killing Nate (a story’s whose end we already know).
Sam Levinson managed to make dramatic changes and provide longevity to the storylines while keeping the characters intact and fully realized. In this way, the Euphoria pilot screenplay proves how a script really is a living document, and as such, it is just as much an enlightening script as it is a fascinating read.
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Euphoria is a shocking and poignant glimpse into Gen Z struggles, and nearly every element of the pilot script holds that focus steady. If you want to continue reading screenplays, we have similar titles like Breaking Bad & The Sopranos in our screenplay database. Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.