HBO’s Euphoria Season 2 (2022) – A Short Review

HBO’s ‘Euphoria’, which is loosely adapted from an Israeli TV series of the same name, follows Rue, a seventeen-year-old high school student, her addiction, her family, friends, and their parents in this raging drama that millions of people tune into every week.

The second season began with a bang as we saw the teens at a New Year’s party where we meet Elliot – Rue and Jules’ new friend. This season came after two special episodes that gave us a deeper look into Rue and Jules’ perspectives after Rue was left at the train station in the season one finale.

Although the drama of the Cassie-Nate-Maddy love triangle seems to drag on forever just like Elliot’s acoustic song he sang to Rue in the season finale, the TV series gave us some beautiful moments, stunning shots, and incredible cinematography. The cinematography game was upped this season, however, the writing seemed underwhelming compared to the previous season of the Emmy-winning TV series – for starters, with the way Kat’s (Barbie Ferreira) character was underwritten.

After Rue relapsed last season, season 2 saw her realizing how her addiction has affected others. Although this was highlighted in Jules’ special episode, this season we see how Rue’s sister Gia (Storm Reid, ‘A Wrinkle in Time’, ‘The Invisible Man’) and Leslie (Nika King, ‘50 First Dates’) had their own set of difficulties during the time, how Gia was mentally affected by all of it. This is something Ali (Colman Domingo, ‘Zola’, ‘Candyman’), Rue’s sponsor addresses. Rue then attempts to apologize to the people she has hurt and caused pain to.

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All the actors did a phenomenal job on the TV drama this year but Sydney Sweeney’s portrayal of Cassie was definitely a standout. From her being terrified of Maddy finding out some secrets, to her outburst on stage amidst Lexi’s play – as cringe-worthy as it was to watch Cassie spiraling down each week to a new low, it is Sweeney’s acting that we should praise. People were embarrassed, pitied and even hated Cassie this season, and rightfully so!

It is undeniable that Euphoria’s artistic elements make it so pleasing to watch but the nudity definitely felt unnecessary at times. o much so that the ‘The White Lotus’ actor Sweeney revealed she asked Sam Levinson, the creator of Euphoria to “cut unnecessary nudity”.

Image via Vanity Fair

Hunter Schafer’s Jules who also had a much lesser screen time in the second half of the eight-part series befriended Rue’s new friend Elliot (played by singer Dominic Fike who featured on Justin Bieber’s 2021 album ‘Justice’ on the track ‘Die For You’). Rue got high at the New Year’s party with Elliot whom she ran into while doing drugs.

Maddy’s journey this season was amazing. The audience saw her get emotional, sad, scared for her life, and angry. She is kind, nice, and not the “mean girl” people portray her to be. One scene where this is evident is when she immediately hugs Rue upon seeing her, which is surprising for the viewers since we don’t see the entire group hanging out together a lot. Her looking after the child she babysits is also very pure. And in a dramatic chain of events, we also see her get furious in the season finale.

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This brings us to Nate. Season 2 of ‘Euphoria’ gives us some origin stories as well. This includes Nate’s dad – Cal Jacobs (Eric Dane, Grey’s Anatomy). The third episode of the HBO TV series takes us back to Cal’s high school days, which is one of the most enjoyable and memorable parts of Euphoria this season. The young actors in that flashback were perfect! However, it still doesn’t erase the fact that he is a horrible person with the latter part of the series even showing us how it all affected his son Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi, ‘The Kissing Booth’).

Image via TV Insider

This season opener gave us more insight into one of the fan-favorite characters of Euphoria – Fez. The biggest drug dealer in Rue’s neighborhood in East Highland, what we knew of Fez and his little brother in season one was too little for it to make much sense.

What we knew earlier was that Fez sold drugs to look after his bedridden grandmother and little brother Ashtray (Javon Walton). But this season took us all the way back to when Ash was only a toddler. Why Fezco and Ashtray do the things they do, behave the way they do, and even cast ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘The Irishman’ star Katherine Narducci as Fezco’s grandma before she could get ill.

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Maude Apatow’s Lexi shined this season, especially in the last two episodes of this season as one of the lead characters instead of being a supporting character like in the first season. She starts talking to Fez for long hours and honestly most of ‘Euphoria’ fans ship them together despite Fez admitting he and Lexi share character traits and not interests. The two discussed social media, ‘A Little House on the Prairie’, the 1986 film ‘Stand by Me’, the ethics of Lexi’s play, and we couldn’t get enough of it!

The last two episodes of ‘Euphoria’ see a play titled ‘Our Life’ by Lexi. It was beautifully shot and made us sit through the teen drama twice. The play really made us think about the massive budget the East Highland school must’ve allotted to it. One of the highlights in these episodes was Ethan (Austin Abrams, ‘Chemical Hearts’, ‘Dash & Lily’, ‘Paper Towns’) who took on multiple roles in the play.

Lexi and Cassie’s mom Suze Howard (Alanna Ubach, ‘Coco’, ‘Legally Blonde’) made it clear that she was very proud of Ethan’s portrayal of herself and Lexi’s play. Lexi’s disaster of a play was well received by both Maddy and Rue. In fact, it received a standing ovation from the audience!

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Kat’s storyline this season mainly focused on her relationship with Ethan. Unlike last season wherein we saw her struggle with her self-image, in season 2 she wanted to end things with Ethan because he was “too normal”. Obviously, this is due to her lack of communication and the blurred image she has in her mind of what a healthy relationship looks like.

As a character on the show praised Lexi’s play saying, “Art should be dangerous”, and that is exactly what ‘Euphoria’ does. The weekly episodes give the viewers enough time to process the drama-packed episodes and have a discourse about their different theories.

What was a little disappointing is the fact that Rue owing Laurie (Marriage Story’s Martha Kelly), the drug dealer thousands of dollars ($10000 for the suitcase of drugs) not being spoken about enough in the season finale. But we’ll see what happens in the next season as the Emmy-winning series (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Zendaya’s portrayal of Rue) has been renewed for the third season which arrives in 2024!

All in all, ‘Euphoria’ is very entertaining to watch. From the set pieces, costumes, art, style, acting, to the drama, everything about the show is quite interesting. With Labrinth’s music on the series, ‘Euphoria’ is a killer watch!

Watch ‘Euphoria’ on: HBO Max | Disney+ Hotstar

 

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Featured Image adapted via IMDb.

 

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