Arts, Television, Review

‘Euphoria’ Captivates With its Creativity Despite Mishandling Character Development


The first episode of the second season of writer and director Sam Levinson’s Euphoria premiered on Jan. 9. Now, every Sunday at 9 p.m. EST, fans devour a fresh episode of this HBO teen drama and often take to social media to discuss it with other viewers. 

When people ask what Euphoria is about, the easy answer is sex, drugs, and toxic relationships. The show depends on overstimulating its audience with unnecessarily shocking scenes.

Whether the show is a shallow tale of high school drama or a realistic representation of teenagers is irrelevant. It’s all about the spectacle. If anything, the demand for Euphoria is an accurate reflection of our times—we seek to be thoroughly thrilled, amused, and entertained, and Euphoria delivers just that.

The show picks up at the end of season one after Jules (Hunter Schafer) departed for New York and Rue (Zendaya) relapsed. The couple reunites as new relationships, new characters, and new backstories enter the show. 

The version of Rue and Jules’ relationship in the second season often falls flat, lacking affection and communication. Elliot (Dominic Fike) adds more relationship drama, playing the cool, nonchalant, and alluring guy that attracts both Rue and Jules. 

Levinson makes trade-offs with his characters, giving some characters satisfactory character development while others veer off in distressing directions. The audience sees a softer, more nurturing side to Maddie’s (Alexa Demie) bold personality. She contemplates her relationship with Nate (Jacob Elordi), offers kind advice to Kat (Barbie Ferreira), and takes care of the young boy she babysits. 

But Cassie’s (Sydney Sweeney) character in the second season can be summed up with one word: embarrassing. In season one, Cassie is a passive character who stays by Maddie’s side, but in season two, she crosses a line as she tries to completely imitate Maddie. Cassie’s increased desperation to get attention from the manipulative Nate is infuriating. 

In each episode, Rue’s choices and struggles with her addiction lead her down a repetitive path of feeling guilty about disappointing the people around her and relying on drugs to cope with her anxiety. Although her lack of an arc exemplifies the difficulty of recovery, it would be interesting for the show to explore other consequences of her behavior other than just guilt. 

The show’s creative cinematography continues to impress audiences. There is even a playful incorporation of art, movies, and stories to narrate Rue and Jules’ relationship in the fourth episode. The character’s fashion styles are unique and diverse, proposing new fun forms of self-expression that have sparked TikTok trends. 

Featured Image Courtesy of HBO

February 13, 2022