Everything good you have heard about Euphoria is probably true. Everything bad you have heard about it is probably true as well. I am strictly talking about the creative aspects here. It all depends on where you land as an audience. That is the beauty of it all. This review is an attempt to share where I land on Euphoria S2 without prejudice and with an open mind, my main purpose being appreciation and criticism of this beautiful work of art created by Sam Levison.
I've been told these indulgences tend to be satisfying, so let’s see what we got.
Euphoria, in Season one was like a beautiful spell that saw our pains and knew how to soothe us in a very harsh world. Season two however, was a rude and painful awakening, just like addiction. The writing, though inconsistent and maybe jarring to some, was nonetheless, hell fire being doused by absinthe vodka. Quite a sight to watch! A lot happened and yet not much happened. It was organised chaos, beautifully faithful to the jarring life of a recovering drug addict, and in short, worked for me as a creative representation of their core subject matter, addiction.
Across both seasons, Euphoria explores the boundaries of love and tolerance we are willing to push for the people we love. By giving us a deep insight into the formative years of the characters, we tend to understand and even excuse their toxic traits; but when is it enough? How far are we willing to push that tolerance? In season one, a lot of the characters’ toxic traits could be understood and tolerated since they were mostly innocent victims. In season two, they start to crack, their insecurities and fears have taken the front seat. When do you say “STOP”? How do you find the courage to not judge people by their worst mistakes, hold them accountable, yet have the kindness to help them through it? How do you love someone in the most horrible moment of their life? Why do you help them recover? What do you do with the trauma they left in their wake?
What do you do when you are that person? How do you do all this and still deal with this cruel world?
This style is adopted for a reason. They don’t want redemptions, but maybe, if they were understood, there will be fewer Cal Jacobs in the future? Maybe, we as viewers can begin to understand the difference between explanations and excuses.
The show consistently maintains its poignant and dark subtext. However, they do not tell this story in a consistent fashion, which, in my opinion, is a deliberate and bold choice. They did so to communicate to us the anxieties and uncertainties that are a result of treating your life frivolously and not loving yourself. This messy season evokes the dangerous unpredictability of the lives of our characters. The biggest question Euphoria asks this season is, how do you love yourself when you hate yourself so much? How do you even make sense of a life that is split into so many different versions of yourself, in a web of lies and deceit, pulling you in different directions?
This inconsistent, and often meta-noir style of writing and presentation also shows fidelity to their second most important agenda this season, which is to give every character their moment; and there is no limit to how toxic, dark or heartbreaking that moment could be.
Bold as this choice was, it did mean neglecting previously well established arcs and ignoring plot points which may or may not tie back together. A few characters were even abandoned and some did nothing to move the story along. It worked for some, it may not work for others, but the characters consume you whole nonetheless.
The performances this season were far beyond the ambitions of season one. Zendaya brings a certain warmth and vulnerability to Rue that makes us root for her recovery even when she seems beyond redemption. Certain dark parts of the script were so realistic that a film nut may be exhilarated by marvelling at the performance and direction in those scenes, but they are so realistic that they may also be highly triggering for many. However, Zendaya is not alone. There is not a single cast member who has not outdone themself in this season. I mean, even Cal Jacob’s wife ate it all up.
Labrinth, the main reason Euphoria gives us a beautiful high, has created music that painfully captures the thin line between feeling high and feeling spiritually connected. This season’s soundtrack is an older brother to its last album; darker, and more aware of the fleeting realities and smokescreens of addiction. “Elliot’s Song” written by Zendaya and Labrinth echo hauntingly true realities of growing up, losing each other and ourselves in the process.
Season two also delivers some much deserved fan service by giving us extremely satisfying moments that make us face our own violent streaks with a rather guilt-free glee. However, towards the end, the most refreshing part of Euphoria was that it ultimately reminded us that these were high school teenagers in a highly adult world that gave them no room for innocence, yet they found their moments and I think that was a beautiful and sobering reminder against the unrealistic expectations we set these characters up against, on TV and in real life.
The creators loved conjuring up this season and it shows.
It was ultimately, extremely primal and the purpose of Euphoria S2 was to help us love and understand flawed people in an increasingly harsh and unforgiving world. Every character on Euphoria is exceptionally flawed. One of the most loved and morally sound characters (comparatively) is a drug dealer. Yet we love him and want him to redeem himself. That is a beautiful and essential value to learn today and Euphoria makes it nasty and fun.
Remember this feeling.
VERDICT: MUST WATCH!
HONOURABLE MENTIONS (SPOILER ALERT)
Rue! Baby Rue! Why is that scene so triggering yet I can not tear my eyes away from it!
I mean that door!
She lit fires wherever she went!
Yes, Ashtray dies and many people are upset but he was, ultimately a drug dealer who was thoughtlessly murdering people. Also, don’t kill me, but I think that scene is beautifully shot and directed.
I did eventually start to find Cassy’s boobs offensive.
Season 2 brought down its “realistic” score when Lexi blew the entire school budget on her play. Euphoria still rules!
Maddy is the shit!
PS: Daya images used to honor the youngest person to win 2 consecutive Emmies next year!