‘Euphoria’ captures attention of the world

Season 2 of HBO hit series possesses viewers for eight episodes


Tribune News Service

Season 2 of ‘Euphoria” reveals the ugly consequences about addiction, sex and teen drama in a realistic light, but leaves many plotlines unanswered.

Lia Eberlein, Staff Writer

Throughout a wild ride of eight episodes, the HBO Original series “Euphoria” has taken the internet by storm.
The show, which wrapped up its second season Feb. 27, was recently renewed for a third season, and it will be interesting to see which plotlines continue into the show’s next installment. This is important to consider due to multiple critical events and conflicts abandoned in the transition from the first to the second season.
Although “Euphoria” has kept countless viewers hooked with its realistic portrayal of addiction — demonstrated through Zendaya’s character Rue Bennett — along with body image issues, abuse and exploration of sexuality among other experiences for the teens in the show, it is quite apparent that shock value has become a major checkpoint for the show’s creators.
The most talked-about conflict of season 2 has hands down been the love triangle of Cassie Howard (Sydney Sweeney), Maddy Perez (Alexa Demie) and Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi). But many fans have expressed on social media that Cassie’s betrayal of her best friend by falling in love with Maddy’s ex-boyfriend after knowing of his abuse toward Maddy seems uncharacteristic.
On the contrary, some fans argue that Cassie’s character is driven by the need to be loved and by her need for male validation. Despite fan bickering in comment sections and Twitter threads, the hate toward Cassie’s character is telling of how Sydney Sweeney’s acting skills have flourished in “Euphoria” season 2.
Jordan Graham, a sophomore freshwater marine biology major, has found the conflict between these three characters to really stand out to her.
“It goes to show how blindsided someone can become when thinking they are loved but are just being used,” Graham said.
Moreover, Kat Hernandez — played by Barbie Ferreira — has seen significantly less screen time recently, despite her character headlining a major plotline in the first season.
The second episode of season two had a scene focused on Kat and how social media presents the concept of self-love, although it only lasted a couple of minutes.
For as much criticism as there may be for this season of “Euphoria,” many things were done very well on the part of creator and executive producer Sam Levinson.
As previously mentioned, there has been a more realistic light shed on drug addiction. In the show’s first season, fans felt a sense of the romanticizing of drug use rather than the awareness that needs to be brought to it, especially with young drug users.
The despair Zendaya showed while playing Rue this season is award-worthy, though.
The bond of the family was greatly explored throughout “Euphoria’s” latest season through Rue’s mother Leslie (Nika King) and sister Gia Bennett (Storm Reid). The emotional toll of their daughter and sister’s addiction is, for lack of better words, beautifully displayed.
The raw acting of King, Reid and Zendaya pulls at the viewers’ heartstrings and gives perspective into what so many families endure.
Madison Williams, a senior legal studies major, said, “We really have seen more of Gia this season, and how hard her sister’s addiction has hit her. It’s very emotional to watch.”
“Euphoria” is known to have episodes dedicated to certain characters and their backgrounds while also exploring the present plot. This season, three characters were able to be better understood by fans: Cal Jacobs (Eric Dane), Fezco (Angus Cloud) and Lexie Howard (Maude Apatow).
Despite how Cal Jacobs has been villainized throughout the series, episodes 3 and 4 of the recent season gave fans more insight into how he came to be. Despite the disgrace of this behavior, he was able to come out about his homosexuality to his family and become free from the sexual chains he had imposed upon himself.
But, that freedom had its consequences.
Fezco and his younger brother Ashtray, played by Javon Walton, have been mainly associated with their roles as drug dealers in their community. The second season opened with their backstory and how from a young age Fezco had to act as the man of the house.
Cloud’s character has played a major role in Rue Bennett’s life with his efforts to prevent her relapses, despite his role as her drug dealer.
More of his compassionate nature was shown through the developing relationship with Lexie, whom viewers also learned more about through her play in episodes 7 and 8.
Through Lexie’s play, spectators can see the events of “Euphoria” from her point of view as a characteristic observer, as well as how much her broken home has impacted her emotional development.
In an interview with MTV, Walton called the season 2 finale “intense, devastating and extremely shocking,” and it was just that — especially for his character Ashtray.
The final episode of this year’s season captivated viewers, its finale leaving fans itching for more.
Considering season 2’s success, there is much anticipation for the third season, speculated for release in 2024.
“Euphoria” is now available for streaming on HBO Max.


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