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Euphoria’s Second Season Pushes Boundaries In Ways That Work

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

After what felt like forever (two and a half years, to be more precise) between the ending of season one and the beginning of season two, Euphoria returned to HBO, this time better than ever before. 

This American drama, a finely-crafted attention-seeker, pays homage to its original Israeli rendition, which came out in 2012. The show, which is structured as a series of miniature stories catered to each character, has always involved a strong influence of sex, drugs and nudity. Considered hard to watch from the beginning, Euphoria paints a raw picture of the tumultuous undergoing of high school students — this is a show that just might be every parent’s worst nightmare. 

Since season one, the show has been able to capture each character in their best and worst moments. For example, Emmy award-winning protagonist Rue Bennett is played by Zendaya and held true to her character until her final scene in the last episode. There was an upheaval of angst and remorse towards Euphoria hottie Nate Jacobs, played by Jacob Elordi. Girls all over TikTok began to pick their poison, whether it be Maddy Perez or Cassie Howard — played by Hollywood’s favourites, Alexa Demie and Sydney Sweeney. And, of course, notable mentions are Lexi Howard, Kat Hernandez, Jules Vaughn and Chris McKay. 

Through the progression of the first season, viewers got to watch as the love triangles, feuds and friendships unfolded, each one consisting of some level of toxicity you might not have thought existed within the walls of a high school—until now. By the end of season one, some were bewildered, ready for a second season, while others frowned upon the depiction of Gen Z’ers in the high school era. While the show holds clear ties to its partners Degrassi, 90210 and even The Secret Life of the American Teenager, it appeared more progressive and far more intense. 

Additionally, some were angry about the microaggressions that McKay faced in the first season — and rightfully so. McKay was seen dating Howard, who plays the part of an ‘American dream girl’ with a slender body, blonde hair, blue eyes and a submissive persona. Being a star football player, McKay set out to prove himself among his fraternity brothers, Jacobs included. Without saying too much more, the show uses racial and gendered violence to create a story for McKay within the realm of Euphoria: But did they go too far?

Apart from that, a lot of fans had picked their favourites. The toxicity of Perez and her on-again off-again relationship with Jacobs was cumbersome, at best. Others watched as Howard’s true persona began to surface towards the end of the season; luckily, writers knew to carry this defiant version of Howard into season two. By the end of the first season, relatability to each character was made possible, thanks to director Sam Levinson. 

By the second season, I was on the edge of my seat. I wanted so desperately to feel the way I felt watching the first one — confused, shocked, teary-eyed and terrified, all at once. I dreaded the prevailing tone of the opening intro; after 55 minutes of bloody penises, drugs and urine-soaked washcloths, my jaw was on the floor. Set on New Year’s Eve, Euphoria served an intimate return to the big screen, with old (and new! #Fezco) characters more strongly developed than before. 

Though only two episodes in, we’ve already learned more about where Howard stands as a person, the insecurities that Vaughn displays and even the reasoning for Bennett’s constant relapses (sigh). During the second episode, Jacobs gets rushed to the hospital, with two of his lovers next to him as he fantasizes about the third one, even though she’s nowhere to be seen. In preparation for episode three, Euphoria fans have since taken to TikTok to discuss the perils of the love triangle (or love square, for that matter) with theories as to how the 11-episode series will end. 

This season, decidedly the comedown, has already stripped away any glamorous aspect the show had once withheld; by fleshing out the true intentions of each cast member, we’re able to take more control of the narrative as viewers, finding ways to be surprised every couple of minutes. 

Euphoria, considered essential viewing, is the epitome of high school drama meets tragic love story, with more of the blood and gore than usual. Each individual delivers a strong performance at an unparalleled rate, and now with prominent characters taking a backseat this season, Levinson gives us more and more reason to keep coming back.

From a fan standpoint, Euphoria is chaotic, intense and humiliating, but so damn good. With less predictability and more symbolism and rebelliousness this time around, you might just need to fasten your seatbelts and grab your popcorn — season two is going to be a bumpy ride. 

Madison was born in Toronto, ON. Her addiction to online shopping is best fuelled by a high daily caffeine intake. Fluent in both French and Spanish, Madison spends the majority of her time keeping busy by juggling a school, work and social life, all while making time to write/edit for HC- Ryerson! Often seen sporting Aritzia clothing, her knack for perfect grammar and love for Prison Break are what makes her "unique", but her articles are pretty cool, too.
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