Season 2 of Euphoria was mid-tier and I’m tired of some fans defending it.
This is coming from someone who really enjoyed the first season. As a connoisseur of the best teen dramas, from iconic ones like Gossip Girl to current ones like Riverdale, this HBO show was right up my alley when it premiered.
However, I have to say that Euphoria Season 2 did not live up to my expectations. While there were some good things that went well this time around, there were also a lot of bad things that just don’t make sense. Today, I’m going to take a critical look at this series and talk about the things that worked, and the things that didn’t.
Worked: The Switch From Digital To Film
If you were wondering why Season 2 of Euphoria looked so different compared to the first, it’s because the show switched from digital filmmaking to using Kodak Ektachrome film. And, wowie, was I impressed.
There were so many amazing shots from this season that still sit with me now, weeks later. That one shot of Cassie surrounded by flowers (as pictured above) is so stunningly beautiful I was too stunned to speak. Rue’s breakdown was filmed perfectly to the point where I was actually there. Even the scenes walking through the hallways of school felt more real.
The cinematography was the real winner this season, because I was truly blown away.
Didn’t Work: So Many Unfinished Plotlines
I know, people will come for me and say, “There’s going to be a Season 3, stuff will get tied up,” and yeah, sure, I can agree to that slightly, but I’ll give you a perfect example - Laurie, the drug dealer.
You’re telling me that Laurie, who literally took Rue in on the night she ran from her family, injected morphine into Rue's system, and found her gone the next morning isn’t brought up again? They just let Rue get clean? You can even tell that they let this play out further because Rue says at the very end of the Season 2 finale that she stayed clean until the end of the year.
Seriously? No one came for Rue despite her owing all that money? After all this time? Even after Laurie said that women can pay their debts in a “different way,” we still don’t see Laurie come back into the picture? Levinson can try and bring that up next season, but at this point, it just feels like a completely forgotten plotline.
Worked: The Music Is Still Fantastic
Labrinth is a king. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.
No, but seriously, the soundtrack of this season was on par with the first. From the inclusion of new songs to some fantastic scores from Labrinth (the main artist behind the first season’s iconic music), you really are transported into this show with another dimension of utter talent.
Didn’t Work: Cassie Vs Maddy Got Old After A While
That being said, my God did this teen relationship crap get so old so quickly.
Some people will probably look at me and say, “But it’s a teen show, there’s supposed to be drama with characters and relationships,” and yeah, I can totally agree to that. But, the main issue is that it was the entire focus of their characters this season.
For example, in Season 1 of Euphoria, we watched Maddy not only tackle her relationship with Nate and the abuse she suffered, but the guilt she felt for imprisoning an innocent man, which made her a compelling character. We saw Cassie as that supportive best friend who, when she had to get an abortion, started to grow up a little and was in a mentally good place even through her complicated relationship with McKay.
In Season 2, it felt like those versions of the characters were completely ignored. Entirely. Their whole arcs were all about Cassie being with Nate, Maddy finding out, and there being a brawl. I mean, do something else with these characters besides having them go after one another for being with Nate, of all people. I don’t know, just doesn’t sit right with me.
Worked: The Acting From Everyone
I mean, is anyone surprised that the acting was still great? While the first season had a standout performance from Zendaya, which she won a Primetime Emmy for, I feel like everyone really got their chance to shine this season and acted their asses off, despite their characters not always having great storylines.
Cassie, played by Sydney Sweeney, was fantastic and truly showed off her acting chops, as well as Alexa Demie, Maude Apatow, Jacob Elordi, and everyone else. Truly, Season 2 was their bright spot with how skillful they were - but even with that, it’s just a shame the story wasn’t as great.
Didn’t Work: Sam Levinson Completely Forgetting Characters
Okay, let’s talk about this - where the hell is McKay?
The dude was a pretty prominent character in Season 1 as Cassie’s love interest, even getting a whole episodes dedicated to his training as a football star, and yet in Season 2, he was nowhere to be seen except for the first episode.
You’re telling me that after Nate and Cassie’s relationship became known to the school, he didn’t somehow find out and beat Nate’s ass after what he said to him at the New Year’s party? What happened to his storyline? Where did he go?
Besides McKay straight up disappearing into the void without a single mention, I don’t even want to get into Kat’s character assassination. Throughout Season 1, it’s all about her trying to accept herself and become better and find love, but in Season 2, we see that she doesn’t actually like herself, and instead pushes away her relationship with Ethan that she seemed to actually want in Season 1. And, what makes it worse is that she gaslights him during their breakup.
It’s just a whole mess, and I’m so upset because she was so powerful in Season 1 and yet now, she feels like a background character.
Also - who the heck is vape girl? Does anyone know her name? Genuine question here.
Worked: The Expansion Of Lesser-Known Characters
The Euphoria cast is so talented, which is why in Season 2, I was so eager to see them expand on the characters that we didn’t get much backstory on. Starting off the Season with Fez’s backstory really made me learn to appreciate and care for the character more, and he’s become one of my favorites.
I also really loved the expansion of Lexi’s character and the fact that they really played into the whole “observer” trope with her, putting it all down in a tell-all play. At the end of the day, you can tell she still really cares about the people in her life and only wants to share her feelings with the world in her own creative perspective.
Even making Ethan an actual character this time around and not just Kat’s boy-toy made me happy. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much as I did watching that “I Need A Hero” dance scene where he truly showed his inner theater kid. We need more of that, Sam Levinson!
Didn’t Work: That Ending
Yeah, that ending didn’t make anyone happy, did it?
Fez and the story of him and Ashtray started off the season and it ended with Ashtray’s unfortunate demise because Custard ended up being a police informant who got the feds called to Fez’s house.
But, man, Ashtray’s death could have been avoided entirely.
I know that he’s just a kid and he was probably scared and acted on impulse so he could potentially save his big brother but come one. Fez was begging him not to do what he did and he shot up a whole entire squad of police officers without barely a second thought.
I’m not even a huge Ashtray fan, but I can see why people would be upset about this, as it doesn’t make sense, and could have been avoided entirely. At least Javon Walton is getting work after Euphoria, so that’s good for him.
Euphoria Season 3 is a long time away, but honestly, maybe it should take its time. Season 2 wasn’t the worst season ever, but it could have been better. Here’s hoping that the team behind Euphoria learn from their mistakes and make Season 3 truly great - maybe those fan theories will actually pan out for once. Only time will tell.
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Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!