Most Euphoria viewers probably stress-watch the show (except Brit Brit who finds it as soothing as a warm, evening cuppa) as the mostly teen characters all played by grown-ass adults grapple with heavy topics like sex, drugs, and identity. Even behind the scenes, the HBO show was rumored to have lots of drama revolving around the nudity required of some of the actors and just a generally hectic work environment. Eric Dane (formerly McSteamy, of Grey’s Anatomy fame), who plays the embattled father of one of the teens on the show, said in an interview that he hopes his portrayal of the abusive and closeted Cal Jacobs can have a positive effect on members of the LGBTQ+ community.
When we were first introduced to Eric’s character, Cal, in season 1, he had rough sex with one of his son’s high school classmates, secretly filmed it, and then has to spend much of season 2 trying to get the footage back after it was taken. Between this dilemma and the revelation that he is gay despite the façade of his heteronormative family and life, he spirals out of control as his inner turmoil and fear of being found out overtakes him. The show helps viewers better understand Cal’s character by flashing back to a gay relationship he had in high school. via The Hollywood Reporter:
One episode opens with flashbacks to Cal’s high school years and the budding romance he had with his best friend, Derek, cut short by the news that Cal’s girlfriend (and, later, wife) is pregnant. “It was helpful to see the chemistry that young Cal and Derek had,” says Dane. “It was really a heartbreaking moment for them. And it’s equally as heartbreaking when Cal returns to the bar and is not accepted by the community. He’s a man without a nation. He’s no longer accepted by the straight community and not accepted by the gay community.”
Cal spends a lot of the second season trying to figure out where he belongs before finally coming clean to his family.
Dane refers to the bender Cal embarks on when taking a trip down memory lane, revisiting the old bar where he and Derek shared one kiss before a life of heteronormativity was thrust upon him. After being kicked out for belligerence, Cal heads home, where he urinates in his foyer and, penis still hanging out of his pants, delivers a shocking monologue to his family in which he comes out of the closet — and unearths secrets his family has been hiding.
None of this scenario sounds like it would be helpful to members of the LGBTQ+ community on its surface (unless they’re belligerent, secret-sex-taping foyer pissers), but Eric explained that despite the fact that he isn’t a member of the community, he could relate with the emotions, so showing those feelings behind the struggle was meaningful to him and could help others facing the same battle.
“I’ve had struggles in my past that invited me to lead that life of secrecy. I accepted the invitation wholeheartedly. … While the circumstances specifically might not be the same, the feelings certainly are…I’m acutely aware that I’m a straight actor playing a gay character,” Dane reflects. “The gay community has been super supportive. I think I’ve lent them a voice in portraying this character, and I hope that everything I do is sincere because I wouldn’t want to misrepresent something that’s so important.”
Now that Cal was able to clear himself of his pent-up demons, hopefully, in season 3 we’ll get to see him have much more chill and maybe even clean up that puddle of urine that everyone just continued to step around in all of the episodes following him unleashing it. Or, it could have been foreshadowing that we’re in for a whole bunch of golden shower scenes. It really could go either way.