Maude Apatow Is the Sleeper Hit of HBO’s ‘Euphoria’

When the news hit that Jewish rapper Drake would be producing Euphoria, an HBO teen drama series based on an Israeli show of the same name, I must admit I was skeptical. But you know what? It’s pretty fucking good. 

In the first episode, we’re introduced to a cast of eclectic characters who we’ll eventually come to know, love, and passionately despise. Zendaya’s character, Rue Bennett, is freshly out of rehab and struggles with her sobriety throughout the season. She narrates the show, and every subsequent episode zooms in on one of the teens in Rue’s orbit, giving the audience a better understanding of their childhood trauma and just how they became so fucked up. 

The people that circle Rue’s life are drug dealers, abusers, cam girls, and your run-of-the-mill teens who self-medicate their anxiety with sex, drugs, and alcohol. You know, the usual high school stuff. Nearly every character is flying off the handle and entangled in a self-made web of regrets, lies, and crime. 

There’s just one exception: Lexi Howard. 

Lexi is Rue’s childhood best friend Cassie’s younger sister, played by 21-year-old Hollywood Jewess Maude Apatow (daughter of Judd and Leslie Mann, older sister of Iris, who herself is known for her role in Netflix’s Love). And I’m here to tell you she’s the sleeper hit of Euphoria. 

Wikipedia lists Lexi as a main character, but that’s a stretch. She doesn’t get a solo episode like her older sister Cassie, and up until episode six, “The Next Episode,” her lines are pretty scarce. Screen time aside, Lexi Howard has proven herself worthy of the title as Most Sane and Realistic Character Who I Would Probably Be Friends With in High School.

A heart of gold, Lexi has saved the day numerous times throughout the season. In the first episode, Rue knocks on her childhood friend’s door to ask for a favor: a wee bit of Lexi’s urine. Rue had broken her sobriety and was in desperate need of clean pee to pass her mother’s drug test. It’s clear Lexi is upset that Rue only contacts her for favors, but, being the loyal friend she is, hands over the goods. Helping someone pass a drug test isn’t necessarily heroic, but for the sake of driving the plot and in the name of true friendship, I’d say Lexi did a mitzvah

Lexi has some more small moments in the following episodes, but the Halloween episode is when she’s taken off the bench and finally thrust under the spotlight. Always standing her ground — except for when Rue peer pressures her for clean urine — Lexi rejects the standard high school Halloween script, opting for a practical costume over a “slutty” one. While her sister Cassie dresses as something unrecognizable but definitely risqué, much to her alcoholic mother’s chagrin, Lexi goes to the Halloween party dressed in the fashion of Bob Ross. Yes, that Bob Ross of the Joy of Painting television program. Iconic. 

It’s at the Halloween party when shit really goes down.

When Cassie’s college boyfriend McKay enters the house party, Cassie is upstairs in a room making out with a boy who is most definitely not McKay. Too busy getting tongued by not-McKay, Cassie doesn’t notice the barrage of texts on her phone from her sister and boyfriend wondering where she is. Soon, McKay makes his way upstairs in search of his girlfriend, slowly opening random doors only to find different couples getting hot and steamy. My adrenaline was PUMPING as McKay inched towards Cassie and Not-McKay’s door. My roommates laughed as I fanned my face with terror and screamed at Cassie to pick up her damn phone, lest her boyfriend catches her cheating and beats the living shit out of Not-McKay. Reader, I was freaking the fuck out. 

But then, Euphoria’s hero saved the day. Thank fucking god for Lexi Howard. 

Just as McKay was about to open the door to his cheating girlfriend, Lexi stops him in his tracks and diverts his attention to her sick costume. “Are you Bob Ross?” he asks. None of her uncultured friends knew who she was dressed as, sending butterflies to her stomach. McKay belongs with Lexi! I thought. But, I digress. 

Lexi didn’t just save her sister from getting busted — she saved me from my bubbling anxiety induced by the anticipation of McKay’s hypothetical, furious explosion. She also saves Rue, yet again. Jules, Rue’s newest buddy and not-so-secret crush, gets crazy drunk at the Halloween party and refuses to stop downing shots and exit the party with Rue and Lexi. Unwilling to leave her boozed up friend behind, Rue tells Lexi she has to stay at the house (side note: Major props to Rue for going to a drug-filled party and staying sober). A good friend through and through, Bob Ross/Lexi doesn’t leave Rue’s side. What a mensch.

In the following episode, we get a glimpse into Cassie’s childhood trauma featuring her little sister, Lexi. The cold open focuses on how their parents’ infidelity and father’s drug addiction affected Cassie, but using an analytical eye we — er, I — can deduce some pertinent information about Lexi’s introverted demeanor. While their father’s abandonment and mother’s alcoholism led Cassie to seek love and validation from men, Lexi’s childhood experience didn’t manifest in daddy issues. 

Feeling rejected from parental figures, and always in the shadow of her blonde bombshell sister, Lexi is “shy” (according to Cassie), never makes waves, and avoids the spotlight, preferring to stand in the shadows. Having grown up in a household with constant bickering, Lexi goes out of her way to put out the fires flickering in front of her. All the dots connect: She gave Rue her urine, despite having a drug addict father; she saved her sister from being caught cheating, even though her parents separated for that very reason; and she stayed with Rue after the party, because she knows the feeling of abandonment. 

The season isn’t over yet, and I stand with the People of Twitter in our collective hypothesis that Lexi will become more integral to the overarching plot, especially in the second season. I mean, Apatow auditioned for the role six times — her time to shine must be on the horizon. Cool, calm, and collected — and carrying a much deeper voice than I expected — Euphoria has only skimmed the surface of Maude Apatow’s acting chops. “I think she has a good sense of humor, I think she’s a good friend,” Apatow said of her character Lexi in an interview with The Last Magazine. “She’s a caring, compassionate person and I’d like to think I’m like that.”

I realize Maude Apatow wasn’t cast as a major player in the scintillating teen drama, but a major player she is. In conclusion, I hereby declare Lexi Howard as Euphoria’s MVP and most overlooked hero. And yes, it’s mostly because of the Bob Ross costume. Over and out. 

Header image via Maude Apatow’s Instagram 

Arielle Kaplan

Arielle Kaplan (she/her) makes content for horny Jews. Brooklyn based, she co-hosts Oral History, a podcast on seductresses from Cleopatra to Jessica Rabbit, and moonlights as a sex influencer as Whoregasmic on Instagram. Find her bylines on Salty Magazine, Kveller, The Nosher, and JTA.

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