Caitlin Ariel ’24
After the finale of Euphoria’s jaw-dropping first season in 2019, fans had to wait an agonizing two and a half years for its sophomore season, which aired on Jan. 9. Indeed, with the pandemic delaying the filming of season two, it seemed like forever since fans had seen a new episode of the smash-hit series.
During this wait, however, watchers’ patience was rewarded with two special episodes: one dedicated to Rue (Zendaya), and another to Jules (Hunter Schafer), with both installments following each character as they cope with their dramatic breakup with one another.
These specials only heightened fans’ anticipation for the show’s second season: its premiere raked in 19 million viewers, officially making Euphoria the second-most popular HBO show behind Game of Thrones. Even as credits rolled during the finale, fans were still begging for more.
Director Sam Levinson seems to broaden the scope of the show’s storyline in this season much to the benefit of two characters who suffered from a want of development in season one: Lexi (Maude Apatow) and Fezco (Angus Cloud). Lexi, who was relegated to a supporting role in season one, recognizes her passivity in Euphoria’s story and begins to control her own narrative in the most obvious way possible: writing and performing a play about her life for the entire school. Fezco’s story similarly comes to prominence early on in the new season, with its first episode offering viewers a flashback to his childhood.
Sydney Sweeney’s character, Cassie, continuously sneaks off with her best friend Maddie’s (Alexa Demie) abusive ex-boyfriend Nate (Jacob Elordi). As Nate and his father Cal (Eric Dane) further entrench themselves in their messy and problematic dynamic established in season one, viewers see a new, troubling side to Cassie. Last season, the character came across as an overthinking, quiet girl, but under Nate’s dangerous influence, she spirals into an explosive and commanding figure.
Of course, Zendaya dominates this season, proving that she truly deserved her 2020 Emmy win. Rue’s season two storyline picks up right where viewers left her at the end of season one, not shying away from the uncomfortable, tragic realities of her drug relapse that emerged during the season’s finale.
Unlike last season, however, Rue is accompanied by newcomer Elliot. Elliot is played by Dominic Fike, who is well known for his song “3 Nights,” which currently has 680 million streams on Spotify. Elliot almost seems to be taking Jules’ place this season, as he and Rue grow close, but he, like Jules in season one, is unsure of how to handle Rue’s destructive actions. Rue’s behavior causes Elliot and viewers alike to feel a strange mix of sympathy and anger as they watch her turn on those she loves. Zendaya’s pre-season warnings about season two being “difficult,” specifically for her character, certainly ring true.
Overall, the flashiness of Euphoria’s first season is substituted with rawness in its sophomore run, a dramatic shift reflected in how Levinson switched from digital to film when filming the second season. The bold purples and blues that fans have come to associate with Euphoria are exchanged for darker and neutral colors, making the show feel more emotional and grounded. Levinson and the actors dig deep to find new dimensions to the characters viewers thought they knew, and as the season progresses, those at home cannot help but become connected to their drama. It is this powerful connection that kept viewers coming back every Sunday night as the season aired and will keep them anxiously awaiting the series’ third season, which is slated for a 2024 release.
Season two of Euphoria is now streaming on HBO Max.