Our introduction to Hillbrow is during a scene of madness – intense joy and intense pain competing to dominate the hearts of Hillbrowans. The blurb describes Hillbrow as the “microcosm of all that is contradictory, alluring and painful”.

HBC’s hit show Euphoria follows the lives of high-schoolers as they struggle to ground their identities in a world of anxiety stemming from gossip, sexuality and drugs. The title of the show refers to the immense highs and unbearable lows of different types of addictions. The freedom of the characters, from real responsibility and from any figures of authority, allows them to maintain unhealthy relationships – examples of which include an abusive boyfriend, a drug addiction and a dangerous hook-up app. The experiences and the relationships present in the complex and intertwined network of the highschool expose the characters to unbelievable and inimitable highs which are followed, as a rule, by a descent that comes too soon.

The emotional rollercoaster that the show drags viewers onto reminds us of the intimacy of the relationship between joy and grief – when they are in their purest state, they are difficult to tell apart. In Hillbrow, it is difficult to tell whether shouts and cries are from “jubilation” from the victory of the national football team or the last plea for help from a child in danger.

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