Storytelling school

Review: ‘Euphoria’ Season 2 Redefines Authentic Storytelling

Photo courtesy HBO Max

By Caleb Dukes 3/8/22 10:44 PM

Rating: ★★★★

After years of delays, Sam Levinson’s Emmy winner hit, “Euphoria”, returned to our screens in full force. Resuming just at the end of the winter break established in the bridge special episodesviewers find the characters attending a New Year’s Eve party, where old habits die hard and new ones take hold.

The second season, much like the first, often follows a loosely structured format highlighting a particular character’s backstory in each episode. Whether it’s fan favorites that never got their due last season – like Lexi, Fez or even Fez’s grandmother – or a repeat that has been fleshed out even more, there’s certainly enough drama to fill multiple telenovelas. However, “Euphoria” doesn’t allow itself to get bogged down in character development – this time around some stories have been put on the back burner in favor of a more cohesive narrative. Season 1 stunner Kat (Barbie Ferreira) had her plot cut severely as Levinson opted to focus instead on the evolution of Cassie (Sydney Sweeney), who gets about as much. Buzz Emmy as star and former winner Zendaya.

While Rue, Jules, Lexi, Cal, and the rest of the cast are certainly going through it this season, there’s no denying that the big focus this season was on (spoilers!) the budding love triangle between Cassie, Maddy, and Nate. Viewers watch Cassie, in particular, navigate the turbulent emotions of dating a best friend’s ex. There are so many gritty (and sometimes gorgeous) shots of Cassie crying in season two that you can’t help but think that’s all she’s done. Well, that and throwing up in the… you know.

Beyond those three, audiences have plenty more to entertain themselves, from Jules’ TV exploration of gender and sexuality, to Rue’s newfound involvement with teacher-turned-drug dealer Laurie. , or Cal’s descent into madness and the erosion of his reputation and his family life. The show honors each of these topics with such sensitivity and authenticity that it’s hard to believe just one person could write it.

This brings me to the cornerstone of the success of “Euphoria”: Levinson’s collaboration with his actors. In addition to starring in the series, Zendaya took on the role of executive producer this season and actress. Hunter Schafer previously co-wrote an episode with Levinson. The director has always been willing to work with his actors to create characters so real and complex that you can’t help but identify with them amidst all the chaos and fantasy of the show’s world.

These characters and their arcs converge in the final two episodes of the season, which mimics the style of a play written and directed by Lexi. As the events of the first season unfold in the play, the characters are given the opportunity to reflect. Unfortunately, this is one of the weakest aspects of the season. The play, while an interesting aesthetic choice, feels a bit out of place and is largely inserted into the narrative as a way to close out the drama between Maddy, Nate and Cassie, while seemingly wasting other storylines that remain unfinished, such as Rue’s sobriety and Laurie’s revenge. The lack of a tangible connection to the end of the season was unsatisfactory, a huge departure from season one and the biggest complaint I have.

However, the second season of “Euphoria” still has plenty of eye candy and a compelling plot that is in no way marred by this setback. Given its huge popularity, social impact and new title of second biggest show on HBO behind only “Game of Thrones”, viewers have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming seasons.