At this point, I don’t need to tell you how beloved This Is Us is. With the Big Three, the new addition of Baby Jack, the events leading up to and following the notorious deadly slow cooker, and so much more, the show breaks and melts its viewers’ hearts with each episode. On another end of the drama spectrum, this year, another ensemble-led series, Euphoria, has captured the hearts of many, with its own set of flawed-but-lovable characters and twisting storylines. So imagine everyone’s delight when, for a wonderful split second, the two worlds kind of collided and This Is Us joked about Zendaya on Euphoria in Episode 3. Despite the brevity of the moment, nobody failed to notice the iconic reference.
Fans have supermom Beth Pearson (and the writers of the show, who are clearly aware of Euphoria‘s widespread popularity) to thank for the funny moment that had them laughing out loud. To break down the scene a little bit more, Beth and Randall’s daughters Tess, Annie, and Deja walked into the living room of their house and were greeted by their mother, who asked the girls how their days went. In response, Annie answered: "My math teacher looks like Zendaya."
Then, Beth asked the follow-up that became the comedic highlight of the episode, "Wait, cute Spider-Man Zendaya? Or HBO drugged-out Zendaya?"
Cue laughter heard around the internet (and my own living room.)
For context, 23-year-old actor Zendaya played the smart, talented Michelle Jones alongside British actor Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home. And more recently, in a deviation from her usual lighthearted roles, she appeared as Rue Bennett, a 17-year-old high schooler dealing with drug addiction, in HBO’s Euphoria.
The new show has popularized glitter and sparkly eye shadow as everyday looks that the YouTube makeup community has had a field day recreating. But it doesn’t seem like the gloriously extra eyelids were exactly what Beth was referring to in the scene.
Though Euphoria has picked up many dedicated fans in its first season, it has also garnered a lot of criticism, much of which came from parents who were horrified at what was shown in the series. Drugs, violence, and child pornography were all pretty big topics in many, if not all, of the episodes, and that freaked out adults. Whether or not you feel Euphoria was an accurate portrayal of modern high school life, it opened parents’ eyes to the possibilities of what their kids could be experiencing right under their noses.
By referencing Euphoria, This Is Us showed that Beth is just like the average parent, one who is worried about what their kids might be up to and concerned with the media’s influence on them. It’s an added bonus that the writers were able to work in a reference to one of today’s most beloved actors. Of course, while Rue’s struggle with sobriety is absolutely not a laughing matter, the acknowledgement of the show’s cultural relevance by another wildly popular series is worth a good chuckle or two.
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