Euphoria season two spotlights its highs and lows



The HBO hit show returned for its second season on January 9, 2022.

Melissa May, Editor in Chief

On Sunday, February 27, the hit HBO show Euphoria aired the last episode of its second season. The show aired for the first time over the summer of 2019, and originally started production for its second season in February of 2020, but was postponed due to COVID-19. When the new release date was announced for January 9, 2022, the show began accumulating massive amounts of excitement and buzz as fans of the show impatiently awaited its release.

The popular show, starring Zendaya, has become extremely talked-about, the teen drama even becoming the most tweeted about TV show in the past decade, surpassing more than thirty million tweets during season two. The show’s ability to have audiences on the edge of their seats and portray a captivating yet heartbreaking story never failed to keep viewers enticed and excited.

I was extremely enthusiastic about the new season of the show, as I had routinely watched the first every Sunday night in 2019 and it had quickly become one of my favorite shows. I had really high expectations going into season two, hoping for the same poignant, beautiful, innovative show that had aired years before.

Overall, while the second season had some underwhelming moments and plotlines that required more attention than they were given, I felt that it was still an amazing season. The entire season was recorded with film on Kodak Ektachrome motion picture film, which made it extremely pleasing to the eye and visually spectacular. It had some standout moments that were executed wonderfully and, despite its stumbles this year, I thought it was an emotional, incredibly well-done season.

I felt that the first episode was one of the more exceptional moments from the entire season, opening with a bang. It seemed intent on communicating the main themes of the show, refusing to shy away from graphic scenes of violence, sex, and drama. It reintroduced the main characters from the first season and immediately started throwing them into new storylines. The party setting of the episode gave it an intense and dramatic atmosphere and felt like the perfect way to get the audience back into the fast-paced plot. The episode was also extremely visually appealing, and I immediately felt the introduction of the film-style recording was an amazing touch.

The plot only continues from there, showcasing the convoluted love triangle between Cassie, Nate, and Maddy, Rue’s struggle with her addiction as well as her relationship with Jules and new character Elliot, the new friendship between Fezco and Lexi, and Fez’s own struggles with his drug-dealing enterprise. These few were the overarching narratives throughout the season, practically every episode developing these relationships and the struggles each character faced.

However, there were some overlooked characters and plots that I wished had been explored more throughout this season. One of my favorite characters in season one was Kat, and I felt like her character in season two was a lazy imitation of the character they developed originally. Her breakup with Ethan felt out of character and forced, and her justification of a “brain disorder” simply made me cringe. Looking back, I desperately wish she would have had more screen time and more dimension instead of this wearisome character that was swept under the rug.

Even Jules lacked as much screen time and attention as I had hoped. While season one ended with her leaving Rue at the train station, leading to Rue’s relapse, left a sour taste in my mouth, I still enjoyed her character and would have loved to see more of her. I feel she is one of the most interesting characters in the show, and her lack of attention in season two was really disappointing to me.

I felt like many things throughout the season were neglected in favor of developing the storyline between Nate, Maddy, and Cassie. I enjoyed the plot, but it was extremely prevalent and sometimes left me wishing they had balanced this story more with some of the underdeveloped ideas, like Jules’ and Kat’s characters.

While the season overall struggled with some of the overarching storylines, I felt that it had some outstanding moments. For example, episode five was probably one of my favorites from the entire show. I absolutely loved the way it focused completely on Rue, watching her as she dealt with the true rage and desperation of her drug addiction throughout the episode instead of switching back and forth between characters. It was almost hard to watch at times, and the episode felt perfectly raw, emotional, and well-acted.

Episode seven was another absolute standout for me, as it showcased the play that Lexi wrote and produced. The penultimate episode went in a very different direction than usual, seamlessly blending fiction with reality and building tension as Lexi’s friends realized that the entire play was based on them and their personal lives. While the episode featured a multitude of flashbacks and dream sequences with a few character moments littered throughout, it was an amazing episode in terms of development. It was funny, passionate, and seemed to push on many of the characters.

The season focused heavily on the love triangle dynamic between Cassie, Maddy, and Nate. (HBO)

Something I absolutely loved this season was the way Sam Levison, writer, director, and producer of the show, specifically capitalized on Lexi, Fezco, and Ashtray as characters. Lexi especially felt underutilized in the first season, and I loved seeing her evolve and earn her own specific moments, like the play, in this season. Fez and Ashtray together had one of the tensest, most interesting plotlines throughout the show, and I always found myself anxiously awaiting their screen time each episode.

The music this season was also incredible. While the score itself, written by Labrinth, was a bit lackluster when compared to season one, it had some beautiful moments. I felt that it was short of some of the strength that the first season’s soundtrack had. For example, some of the background songs from the first season were hits on their own, like “Formula,” “Nate Growing Up,” “Forever,” and “Still Don’t Know My Name.”

However, the second season really stood out in its musically-focused scenes. One of the most heartwrenching scenes in the whole season is one in which Rue seems to be dancing with her father as Labrinth himself sings his song “I’m Tired” to Rue. The song is extremely enticing and the moment was one of the most touching in the entire show. Even the scene in the finale in which Elliot, played by Dominic Fike, sings a sweet song that he wrote for Rue, was incredibly beautiful and added a lot to the show.

Overall, I felt that Euphoria season two was absolutely amazing and, in my opinion, continues to be one of the best shows on television. Its issues were more glaring this season than in the first, and I found myself wishing for a bit more from Levinson in terms of the plot and writing, but I was still profoundly pleased with the show’s production and its outcome overall.

Euphoria is nothing if not head-turning and striking. Despite its flaws, it never fails to draw your attention with an almost hypnotic grasp, and season two never disappointed in leaving me wanting more. Euphoria is a beautiful, well-done show, and not only deserves to be, but it demands to be seen.