‘Euphoria’ Season 2 hits and misses

The return of the popular show balances between truly spectacular and strangely aimless.



Sydney Sweeney as Cassie Howard in “Euphoria” (2019-).

Sarina Grossi, Editor-in-Chief

The wait for “Euphoria” Season 2 felt extremely long. With the first season airing in 2019 and ending in an intense cliffhanger, the anticipation for the series’s return was high. Seeing that Season 2 concluded this past Sunday, was it worth the hype?

In some ways yes, and in some ways no. This season shares some strengths with the previous one while also having new highlights. On the other hand, new problems seem to arise, causing issues for the HBO show.

For those who have not watched “Euphoria,” it follows the complicated lives of California teens dealing with drug abuse, sexuality and manipulation. The melodrama is graphic and often unrealistic, but the emotional core of the show, the relationships between each character, hit hard.

The technical aspects of the show such as cinematography make “Euphoria” worth the watch alone. Each scene, even if difficult to watch, is pleasing to look at, utilizing color and imagery beautifully. The show creates a painting with each frame, using the camera as its paintbrush and the editing as its palette.

The cast of “Euphoria” always seems to make the show better, with Zendaya’s portrayal of the central character Rue Bennett giving the series a heart. She captures Rue’s constant struggle between mental illness, addiction and keeping her relationships with the gravity and weight of a person who has lived those experiences. Other standouts this season were Sydney Sweeney as Cassie Howard, Maude Apatow as Lexi Howard and Angus Cloud as Fezco.

New character focuses were also a welcomed surprise, with more of a spotlight shown on beloved characters like Fezco and Lexi (who had a new budding romance) and more depth given to characters that felt one-note last season like Cal Jacobs (Eric Dane). Yet, this sometimes proved to be a problem, as some large players from last season seemed to be forgotten in the mix, like Jules Vaughn (Hunter Schafer) and Kat Hernandez (Barbie Ferriera), who would have benefitted from more exploration.

This leads to the biggest issue of “Euphoria” Season 2: it feels cramped and doesn’t give its characters or its plotlines enough room to breathe. 

Something that was executed extremely well in Season 1 was the structure of each episode, focusing on one character at a time. Even though the storylines were simple, these episodes were more effective plot-wise, felt more connected and left a stronger impact on the viewers as a whole. Only a few episodes this season followed the same story structure, including the best episode “Stand Still like the Hummingbird,” focusing on Rue and her fight against drug recovery.

This season ignored the character-focused episodes, trying to fit in at least four “main” plotlines and numerous B-plots, making the overall story arc feel messy and unrefined. Trying to fit in so many storylines leads to a quantity over quality mindset, with some story beats being forgotten as the season progressed, like Rue’s tradeoff with the drugpin Laurie (Martha Kelly), and others not being fully fleshed out. For example, Rue had gotten clean and was not admitted to a rehab center, but somehow in the next episode was not struggling with sobriety when she clearly had shown weakness earlier in the season. Because of this, whenever the show switched perspectives between characters, it felt like the last story arc felt unresolved and unconnected to the show’s general plot.

I enjoy “Euphoria.” I think it is greatly entertaining and has some amazing technical elements, characters and even uses cool music. But if the next season follows in the lead of this one, the show might become difficult to watch or even get invested in. I do recommend “Euphoria,” but be cautious; the show has a lot of issues.