Welcome to Hyperfixate! This newsletter updates every Wednesday. Sign up here. If you’d like to support this newsletter or me you can buy me a coffee here!
I’m having a bit of a ‘dud’ week—as in my brain doesn’t feel like it’s up to the usual tasks I need it to do (this has been a recurring problem) so this week’s Hyperfixate will be light and breezy. Half-TV recap, half-half-baked opinions on said TV, and a smidge of whatever I thought was funny online this week in the world of celebrity media mania. Hey, we can’t be Daredevil all the time right?
My favourite line from this week’s Euphoria season premiere is Fez (Angus Cloud), moments before hitting Nate ( over the head with a glass bottle deservedly so, asking: “You got any New Year’s resolutions?” Fez may be a man of few words, but hearing him engage in passive-aggressive small talk before beating the crap out of someone is something that can be so personal to me.
I watch euphoria the same way I watch the new Gossip Girl: only for the pretty people. I’m truly only invested in what happens to Fez and what happens to Cassie and Maddy. Dominic Fike (of my 2019 br*ckh@mpt*n craze) plays Elliot, a new friend of Rue’s. Zendaya and Hunter Schafer are great, as always, but the focus away from Jules and Rue has actually been kind of refreshing? I understand that this is, of course, Rue’s world, but when she’s pulled out of her world and into other people’s—seeing her narration is as unreliable as ever—makes the show easier to stomach.
Sydney Sweeney is pulling out the big guns this week with Cassie being literally all over the place. At one point, she was at the bottom of a bathtub. Bless Lexi’s heart for putting up with all of this. I like that we’re exploring Cassie unraveling a bit more. I don’t want to give Sam Levinson any credit for things he did not intend but the girl next door doing a full 180 this season will make for some interesting (by Euphoria standards) television.
Speaking of Lexi, she and Fez have super cute moments in this episode! They’re really sweet actually! I want to see more of this!
I don’t really have a lot to say about Euphoria aside from the fact I’m really impressed with how they’ve lit and shot every scene. And done it entirely on film as well. I love it when TV looks good! Go on, budget! Let’s go budget!
Euphoria reminds me of that My Chemical Romance song, Teenagers, that opens with:
Teenagers scare the living shit out of me.
Well, a few of them do, anyway.
Make What Shine?
My brother and I finished rewatching all four seasons of Victorious last week. You know I’m always up for a little trip down nostalgia lane (to the point where I might have a podcast about it).
The show follows Tori Vega (Victoria Justice) as she attends Hollywood Arts, a performing arts school in Los Angeles that her older, talentless sister Trina (Daniela Monet) got into before her. She meets a group of eclectic friends and frenemies as they go on teen adventures trying to make it in Hollywood. Rounding out the cast is singer-songwriter Andre (Leon Thomas III), actor and heartthrob Beck (Avan Jogia), Tori’s frenemy and Beck’s girfriend Jade (Elizabeth Gillies), sweet and bubbly airhead Cat (Ariana Grande), and ventriloquist nerd Robbie (Matt Bennett).
It’s immensely entertaining. It’s screwball gags under the pretense of a performing arts school with really good looking teenagers. It can get a little too random for its own good sometimes, but it is thoroughly a lot of fun.
I wish Beck and Jade had much more screentime. I think it’s insane that Jade was bested out of roles and solos simply because Tori is the lead of the show. I know that’s how TV works but I want to see Elizabeth Gillies in absolutely everything. I know she’s on Dynasty and that she sings on Dynasty including this cover of drivers licence but goodness me! What a woman. There’s also a lot of heart within their tumultuous on-again-off-again relationship.
Ariana Grande plays clueless really well, and Cat finds her way as the series progresses style wise, getting away from her unstyled straight red velvet cupcake hair and spaghetti strap tank tops. The running gag that she has a weird, possibly incarcerated brother makes for great oneliners and concern for Cat’s home life. Cat goes on to star in the spin-off Sam and Cat, where she starts a babysitting service with iCarly’s Sam Puckett (Jennette McCurdy).
Victorious episodes often has a threadbare plot, a lot of screaming and feet, and some bops that I can’t get out of my head. Tori almost always nearly gets famous until something goes horribly wrong. There’s always something horribly wrong with Trina, which I think is hilarious. She would have the craziest beef with the Euphoria kids.
The thumbnail’s episode is called Survival of the Hottest, also from the first season, where the gang sans Cat get trapped in Beck’s camper during the hottest day of the year. Meanwhile, Cat meets a group of boys outside that cool her off with water gun fights and snowcones. Jade apparently can’t sweat, and Trina is so selfish that she drank the only bottle of water in the van. It’s half a bottle episode, an absurd one. A more powerful allegory for climate change than Don’t Look Up. Plus, they all looked really hot.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Give It Up from the Freak the Freak Out episode. It’s my favourite song from the show. Jade and Cat duet a song at Karaoke Doke, a local karaoke bar that hosts competitions. They were challenged by these super annoying girls that hit on Beck and made fun of Hollywood Arts, the school that they go to. After losing to those girls because their dad owns the joint, Cat and Jade enlist Tori to sing in the next competition. Tori is disguised as a meek “loser” so those two girls would think she’d be easy to take in competition. But of course, they lose. Tori sings the titular Freak the Freak Out and bring the house down. Grande and Gillies performed Give It Up at one of Grande’s concerts in Atlanta almost ten years later.
There are some pretty cool concept episodes, too. There’s one where the gang attend their drama teacher Sikowitz’ (Eric Lange) party where they all have to stay in character, a lesson in method acting. There’s another where Robbie parodies TMZ, or the one where they do a tribute to The Breakfast Club.
The students at Hollywood Arts post on a social media site called The Slap. Nearly each scene is punctuated by a status update, usually from Tori. They all have PearPhones and PearPads. They get updates about ice cream contests hosted by Ke$ha from a site called Splashface. The end of every episode encourages viewers to hit up TheSlap.com, similarly to how a real iCarly.com was set up by Nickelodeon. Though both sites are defunct now, the role of the internet in both the show’s stories and marketing were emblematic of what ‘adults’ assumed kids sounded like online. On that note, my pal Iza has written a dope little essay on adultism and childism over on her newsletter, Grownish. I mean we all fire off tweets driven by boredom, randomness, feelings, or the desire for attention of any kind (to raise awareness, to look like you’re raising awareness), so to some extent The Slap was insight into the characters’ inner workings. At the same time, it’s just dumb and funny sometimes. I love off-brand ripoffs because of copyright and licencing. Zuckerberg could NEVER do The Slap.
Victorious sits in a bizarre pocket of late 2000s to mid-2010s television marketed to tweens. The disappearance of the Tween is evident now with how popular shows like Euphoria are and how much time we all spend online. I was a teenager not too long ago, but when I was fourteen, the people that were on TV looked a lot more like Tori Vega and less like Maddy Perez. Maddy is what I want to dress like now. Tori is someone I did not want to dress like but knew that her fringe tote bag was straight out of some Forever21 nightmare. Victorious is aspirational to the tween, it’s what teenagehood could look like outside of Glee, outside of whatever was available on Disney Channel, but far enough from what teenagedom really entails.
The theme song Make It Shine is indicative of that aspiration—that American TV was encouraging kids to pursue their dreams, as long as they tried. It’s corny, a little too utopian, but hey, not everything has to be hardcore. It could ease up on all the foot humour, though.
That’s all for this week! The Hyperfixate homepage got a little facelift thanks to Substack’s new layout feature. I picked the ‘Magazine’ option.
If you’d like to support this newsletter or me, you could sign up to this newsletter if you haven’t yet or buy me a coffee!