It’s been more than two years since the first season of Euphoria was released, and the fervor of the newest season has enthralled much of the campus. Every Sunday night, HBO releases a new episode of the gritty series, and the entirety of the second eight-episode season will be available to watch Feb. 27.
Created by Sam Levinson, the show has accumulated such a massive following largely due to its shock value. It employs violence, nudity and drugs to create a nihilistic version of a coming-of-age drama, pushing every boundary of what is socially acceptable. The first season introduced Levinson’s intense style, but the new season is even more extreme.
The main character Rue, played by Zendaya, tells the stories of her friends and peers while struggling with her own drug addiction. The structure of the series surrounds Rue’s recovery and relapse, adding a layer to the show in which the narrator is wholly unreliable. Zendaya’s performance, which earned her an Emmy from season one, is a major part of what makes the show so successful. Every scene that she is in is utterly captivating, with the sheer range of emotions that she is able to convey.
Zendaya was not the only actor praised for her exceptional performance in the first season. Her co-stars Hunter Schafer and Sydney Sweeney (who play Jules and Cassie, respectively), also gave incredible performances. The new season focuses more on telling stories of the individual characters, weaving the storylines together in the later episodes, which allows for more intense and intimate moments. This is why fans are particularly excited by the new episodes: We get more of a backstory on the beloved characters from the first season.
Despite its popularity, the show has also been a source of controversy and labeled by many as “soapy” entertainment. In addition, some critics argue that the show is too far removed from the reality of a high school that it ends up sending a damaging message. While the majority of people watching the show appreciate that it does not hold back when depicting harsh topics, Euphoria seems to almost forget that the characters are supposed to be, for the most part, under 18. On the other hand, some think that the point of the series is not to be digestible, but rather to force viewers to examine the structures in our society that could have inspired this narrative.
Similarly, Euphoria strives to depict mental health just as bluntly. Part of the goal of the series was to go against the romanticized Hollywood version of depression, which it does to an extreme, in the way that the show goes out of its way to show the gritty details of mental illness. For some audiences this can be triggering, though the show strives for inclusivity and representation. Almost all of the main characters struggle with their mental health at some point in the show, in very different ways.
Overall, the second season of Euphoria is well worth the watch. It is certainly not for everyone, but for what it is, the season is extremely well done. It’s no wonder that it has captivated so many Kenyon students, as its bold style and beautiful performances have made it well worthy of praise. The first season, intermittent specials and all new episodes can be found on HBO Max.