Euphoria Review

The official season two poster. (Courtesy)

Euphoria, the second most watched show on HBO, has returned for a second season after three years. Acclaimed for its gorgeous aesthetics, camera work, cast, writing and “realism,” the show has garnered around 16.3 million viewers for the second season. The second season finale left millions of other viewers and myself in a wide array of emotions from sadness, shock and a feeling of dissatisfaction. Despite the praise, the second season falls short in several areas. A third season has been promised to come in 2024, however for myself and I guarantee a large number of other viewers, it does not make up for the ending of the acclaimed show. 

Aesthetically, the show is beautiful. The wardrobe design is full with the trendiest clothes with upcoming and notable designers alike that will set the trends of 2022 and makeup looks that will have people attempting on Tik Tok for years to come. The cinematography and editing is absolutely stunning, the hazy frames and silent close ups often add to the drama of the scene tastefully. In spite of that, the visuals do not compensate for the other issues in the show.

Many viewers acclaimed the first season for its realistic depiction of high school, however that sentiment could not be further from the truth. Glamorizing these activities is dangerous in several ways as most high schoolers do not constantly engage in salacious activities, and implying they do just contributes to the negative image of teenagers or makes them feel as if they must participate in such activities. The show’s explicit nudity and violence also add to many’s opinion on the realism in the show. Being explicit does not equal realism. Dark concepts don’t equate to realism just as something funny doesn’t equate to no darker meaning. This isn’t to say Euphoria doesn’t have touching storylines, but I would say that a large portion of the nudity this season is unnecessary. Especially since these are teenagers that the show is supposed to be depicting, it’s often uncomfortable to watch them participate in such adult activities. The show could still be just as impactful if they were all in college.

Another factor to the season’s anticlimactic end was the unresolved plot lines. A few cliffhangers are always good and necessary to keep viewers on the edge for the next season. But have more than three, and you begin to wonder if the writers just simply forgot about the character’s storyline. In the first season, it followed a format of having an episode focused on one character and giving them individual plot development. This style allowed for the viewer to empathize with characters and develop stronger attachments to them without forcing obvious character development. The second season however only follows this format for half of the season and then just stops completely, leaving many loose ends with the characters. And with the addition of Rue’s enabling-also-drug-addict friend Elliott and giving background characters more important places in the story, it feels like too many people are competing for the spotlight.