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TW: Abuse

Spoiler alert for Season 2 of Euphoria!

Along with the finale of Lexie’s iconic play, came the long-awaited finale of Euphoria. After eight episodes, HBO wraps the second season of its most controversial teen drama to date. 

However, the second season is not the only thing that Lexie’s play brought an end to. The play titled, “Our Life,” also signalled the end of the iconic friendship between Maddy Perez (played by Alexa Demie) and Cassie Howard (played by Sydney Sweeney). 

In light of that, it is time for us to finally delve into one of the most controversial debates surrounding their friendship: 

Did Cassie Break Girl Code?

Cassie Howard has been the most criticised character of this entire season. To recap, the large amount of criticism comes about as a result of her secret relationship with her (now ex) best friend’s abusive ex-boyfriend, Nate Jacobs (played by Jacob Elordi). Cassie has had to face a mass amount of hatred from the entire audience as a result, with one viewer stating that, 

Cassie deserved the slander.

Additionally, she faces criticism from her own family, with Lexi telling her that she is not exactly, “the good guy.”

Despite the hatred, the development of her relationship with Nate is not exactly surprising from Cassie’s point of view. In the first season, Rue (narrating) reveals that Cassie,

fell in love with every guy she ever dated. Whether they were smart or stupid or sweet or cruel, it didn’t matter. She didn’t like to be alone.  

Like many other women, Cassie suffers from the need for male validation. The fact that she becomes obsessed with Nate after he shows her the slightest bit of attention in episode one of the season makes perfect sense.

Her need for Nate’s attention is also portrayed in an exaggerated manner at the beginning of the season. We see Cassie adopting an insane morning routine. Waking up at 4 am every day, she meticulously stylises herself according to what she believes to be within Nate’s preferred tastes.

This is a very accurate portrayal of the extremities that Cassie’s insecurities will make her do. 

We can even see this through her relationship with her father, portrayed through flashbacks. The most notable one of them all has to be the moment that Cassie insists that she and Lexie let their father drive them home, despite him being very obviously drunk. Evidently, she loathes disappointing the men in her life, stating,

I don’t want him to think that we don’t trust him.

Cassie is without a doubt, a people pleaser, at least in relation to the men in her life. 

However, with Cassie’s crippling self-esteem, comes a fully autonomous human. Cassie is aware of the difference between right and wrong in this situation, and for the most part, she definitely understands that she is in the wrong. After all, if she truly believes that she isn’t the “bad guy,” why would she keep her relationship with Nate a secret? 

She is aware that her relationship with Nate is an automatic betrayal of her friendship with Maddy. Guilt is constantly radiating from her throughout the entire season. In particular, on Maddy’s birthday, where Cassie is seen being extra affectionate towards her best friend, throwing her a party, gifting her a scrapbook of their memories together. However, this is all an act to convince herself that she can still be a good friend to Maddy. 

Nevertheless, these sweet gestures turn sour the moment that Maddy finds out Cassie’s secret. Cassie’s betrayal completely corrupts her friendship with Maddy at that moment. Although we don’t often see this situation from Maddy’’s point of view, the moment where she tells Cassie through tears that,

I would have never done this to you…

shows us how hurt and betrayed Maddy feels by Cassie. She could have never imagined that her own best friend would betray her like this. After all, Cassie has lived through Maddy’s toxic relationship with Nate. She has always confided in Cassie, even confessing that Nate is extremely abusive towards her. The fact Maddy has to lose her best friend not only to her ex-boyfriend but also her abuser makes Cassie’s deceit even more scarring. 

However, Cassie refuses to accept any responsibility for her actions, as we see her repeating one line in particular in almost every episode,

THEY WERE BROKEN UP FOR 3 WEEKS AND 3 DAYS! 

Cassie knows that she is not a helpless victim. As her mother says,

It’s one thing to do what you did and it’s another thing to pretend you’re all innocent and it’s no big deal!

Evidently, Cassie has had to face life-altering trauma which has shaped the way in which she interacts with the people around her, but this does not mean that she can run away from the consequences of her own actions. 

Cassie did break girl code. The fact that she attempts to justify her actions makes this fact even more true.

Cassie’s betrayal will forever leave Maddy feeling an immense amount of pain when recalling moments with her former best friend. The memories that were once sweet, have now turned sour and the once pure friendship has now been corrupted forever.

19 year old law student. HerCampus DCU Contributor and Events Co-ordinator
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