Season Two of HBO’s “Euphoria”

Season two of HBO’s hit show, Euphoria, ended its second season after premiering in early January after a two and half year long hiatus. Euphoria, created and directed by Sam Levinson, is based on his own struggles and addictions. The show follows Rue Bennett (Zendaya), a 17 year old drug addict, as she also goes through her own struggles with addictions, relationships and trauma. 

The season premiere alone notes how popular the show grew in viewership with it having over 13 million viewers across HBO and HBO Max. Compared to the viewership in season one, it more than doubled as the season progressed this year. Following the fourth episode of the season, Euphoria was the number one most in-demand show in the US. 

With its stunning directory and cinematography, unforgettable acting performances featuring Zendaya and the rest of the cast, and its unique style, Euphoria season two came in with a storyline a lot heavier and darker than its origin season. The primary storyline of the second season mainly follows Rue and her relapse with drugs—which will affect her family relationships as well as her friendships and relationship— and also chips into other characters storylines such as Nate Jacobs’ (Jacob Elordi) failing family and relationship, and Fez (Angus Cloud) and Ashtray’s (Javon Walton) lives as drug dealers. 

Stylistic wise, this season of Euphoria felt even bolder than its predecessor because of a switch to digital filming while filming season two. Director Sam Levinson’s comments on the switch was due to him wanting the show to feel more like “a memory”, which is exactly what this season achieved. In comparison to the first season featuring flashy colors and hues of blue and purple, this season’s tone came off as darker and intense; following the exact tone of this season’s storylines. Also in terms of style, came the choice of music to go along with the storyline. “We wanted to stay in our world and use the music as an interesting storytelling device [and a] very prominent character in the show,” said Jen Malone, Euphoria’s music supervisor, featuring a playlist of music that has spread widely on social media, including TikTok, written by Labrinth, who was encouraged by Levinson to write music when inspired rather than for specific scenes. 

However, with artistic choices, Levinson sacrificed in some areas throughout the season including in character development. With the season mainly focusing on our narrator, Rue and her fallback onto drugs, addiction and a huge relapse mentally and physically, there is also a new love triangle with Nate, his ex-girlfriend Maddy (Alexa Demie) and her (former) best friend, who has been sneaking around with Nate, Cassie (Sydney Sweeney). Even with the fantastic acting performances by Zendaya, (with Rue’s relapse and struggles with family) Sydney, (Cassie’s addiction and desire to be loved) and Jacob (Nate’s abusive-type behaviors towards girls) some character arcs were left dangling from the first season, such as Kat (Barbie Ferreira), who had a lot less screen time than the first season, who has been growing emotionally yet somehow randomly hates her boyfriend Ethan, who she then later gaslights into breaking up with him and her storyline is never resolved. 

After episode five of the season, which follows Rue as she goes out of control as she goes through a period of withdrawal and acts reckless over the span of hours after her ex-girlfriend, Jules (Hunter Schafer) and new character and friend, Elliot (Dominic Fike), come clean to Rue’s mom about her relapse. In that episode, it was a truly remarkable acting performance by Zendaya as her character spiraled down physically and emotionally. Following that episode, we saw the downward spiral of Maddy and Cassie’s friendships following the reveal that Cassie has been hooking up with Nate, and a real introduction to Lexi, (Maude Aptow) Cassie’s sister, through her school play to tell her and her friend’s stories. I think it was a pretty good introduction to her character, seeing that we haven’t learned much about her previously. 

What Euphoria does exceptionally well is capturing the not so stereotypical lives of teenagers. They show the not-so-perfect lives teenagers live, and that is what the show is trying to convey to their adult viewers, because whether they like it or not, there are teens around the world drinking, partying, etc. “What “Euphoria” does exceptionally well in a way that I haven’t seen before in pop culture is accurately depict trauma and the effects trauma has on the emotional stability of an adolescent.”, from Johnna Sisneros of the Daily Nebraskan, and that is what a big part of Euphoria is centered around. None of the choices made in the show by the teenagers are perfect, but they are met with consequences that teens in the real world would have to face as well. It shows how trauma can affect kids; and how they turn to things like drugs and drinking as a result of negligence. 

The show’s storyline is messy, it’s not perfect, life is not perfect and life is messy. But Euphoria is a work of art; the style, cinematography, casting, all of the artistic choices are indeed perfect. 

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