In case you didn’t know, Euphoria on HBO is actually based on a previous series called Euphoria that aired in Israel for one season. In a way it’s a remake, but done in a very different way. In fact, the original Euphoria was inspired by a true story, and the HBO Euphoria is entirely fictional. Here are details about Euphoria’s first version.
The Israeli show aired in 2012 and it had the same name. Ron Leshem is the writer and director for the original series, Haaretz reported. He wrote one episode of the new series. He’s also helming a new series called Fertile Crescent for Hulu, which is about the Syrian Civil War.
According to Haaretz, a few characters in the HBO series are similar to the original, including Kat, Fezco, and his younger assistant. The shows both revolve around teens living without too much oversight from their parents. But the resemblances pretty much end there.
TCDY has a writeup about the Israeli version here, which had 10 episodes in its one and only season. It reads:
Seventeen is the new thirty. Forty is the new twenty five. Parenthood is dead, and city life was not meant for teenagers. Euphoria portrays a sexy, troubling, and bold profile of the teens of the nineties, within a raging drama going on behind teenagers’ closed doors. In a visual cinematic dialogue reminiscent of Elephant or Kids, whirling with dialogues like those in Trainspotting, Euphoria presents the impossibilities of age, through tumultuous love stories and suspense. The series’ protagonists live in internet fantasies, drug-induced hallucinations, masturbatory illusions, schizophrenic and traumatic disorders, narcissistic dreams – in fact, they live everywhere except reality. Reality has already been done and is boring, and faced with real life, they are unripe fruit that has already fallen to the ground. Lost and hurt, vulnerable and thrill-seeking, they become a community in a city of lonely individuals. Together, they seek euphoria, and are thrown from euphoria to paranoia. An innocent youth escapes a jeep that chases him down in front of a night-club. It’s a manhunt. The wounded boy falls to the ground. He manages to plead ‘it wasn’t me’ before the driver, also a youth, picks him up and stabs him to death. The series protagonists were all there that night, unacquainted to each other.”
As you can see, Euphoria on HBO is VERY different. The Israeli show is about a group of teens in the 90s who are also addicted to drugs and living without input from their parents. But in the Israeli version, we never actually see the parents. And in the Israeli version, the teens witness a murder which draws together characters who were living very different lives.
HBO’s version is very different. It’s set in modern-day rather than the 90s and although drug-fueled despair is still a big element, a witnessed murder plays no role in the series.
In fact, the Israeli version was inspired by the true story of Ra’anan Levy, a teen who was murdered. In 2006, two members of one of Israel’s crime families, both 22, were arrested for Levy’s murder, The Jerusalem Post reported. Levy, 18, was talking to a girl outside a club and her boyfriend thought they were flirting. So he chased Levy in a Jeep and one of the people in the Jeep stabbed Levy in the heart.
You can watch a season edit of the Israeli version on YouTube here.
On Reddit, u/babybabywow said they saw the original Euphoria that aired in Israel and its quality didn’t even compare to the HBO series. They wrote: “I am Israeli and I watched the original one and it is absolute sh** compared to the quality that is American Euphoria. The only thing the two shows share is the title and nothing else. Now I don’t necessarily compare a small country’s production to that of a giant like HBO, but seriously, it was a very cheap production even compared to some other shows that Israel produce. Plus, it was a HOT (literally the worst cable company in Israel) production so that should basically explain why the show is so bad. The Israeli Euphoria did not quite appeal to Israeli audience also. Teenage drama is a TV genre that is less common (and honestly looked down upon) around here compared to American television so I’m not surprised it did not succeed.”
On Reddit, u/chenofzurenarrh wrote that in the Israeli original, Rue uses drugs because she feels guilty after her date killed a guy she was talking to at a party. And the “Ashtray” character murders Rue’s ex-boyfriend because of bullying. The similar Fezco character is experimenting with drugs and wants to sleep with the Rue character, but turns on her when she’s not interested.
Some people really enjoyed the Israeli version and not everyone believes that HBO’s is better. But aside from the name, there’s not a lot to compare between the two series. Pretty much the biggest comparison is that Rue in the HBO series and the main character in the Israeli version use drugs to escape reality. But that’s where the similarities end.