Euphoria: Season 2
February 2, 2022 3:45 PM - Season 2 (Full Season) - Subscribe

After a two year delay, HBO’s high school drama returned January 9th for season 2. Series lead and executive producer Zendaya (MJ from Spider-Man! 🕷️🤓) became the youngest ever winner of the Emmy for Lead Actress for her role as Rue.

"The series doubles down on its claim as the classiest and most artistic form of the lowbrow high school drama ever. " - Anzhe Zhang, Slant

"Buried beneath the expertly choreographed sex and pretense, Levinson periodically stumbles upon a truly affecting moment, although it usually has more to do with the performances than the writing ." - Dustin Rowles, Pajiba

Quality moments at the season mid-point:

Maddy babysitting – episode 2
Cal as a teenager – episode 3
Oklahoma? – episode 3
Ending of episode 4 - episode 4
posted by riruro (5 comments total)
I loved the first season. It was visually inventive and intense. I like how it manages to portray the emotional experience of being high or being super-aroused and it does it in ways I haven't really seen often in media. Some of the "plotty" aspects are less appealing, like the intrigue around Cal and Nate's shitty behavior being exposed by Jules. I LOVED the way they used eye makeup in a really expressionistic way to convey the inner lives of the characters.

There were two special episodes put out around last christmas and I hated them. The first was Rue with her AA sponsor in a diner, just talking in such a mind-numbing parade of addiction-adjacent cliches. The second was a session with Jules and her therapist. I realize that these episodes must have been thrown together after filming of the second season fell apart due to pandemic restrictions and they were severely limited in what they could do and how many people could be on set at a time, so I can be forgiving. But both those episodes were flat and lifeless, like watching actors workshopping a crappy play in a drama class.

Anyway, so far the second season is much more like the first season and that's a relief. I like the fantastical breaks from reality and the way they reveal things about the characters. At this point I've watched the first four episodes, so I'm not sure what to say about the whole season yet.
posted by wabbittwax at 11:04 AM on February 7, 2022

Having now watched the full season and taken a couple days to digest it, I have some thoughts.

This show takes a lot of risks with its material and with its storytelling and I applaud that, though I don’t think the risks always pay off. The final episode alternated between being deeply affecting and downright confusing as the events of the play blended in and out of reality. I can forgive that I think, especially because the good parts are SO good. Elliott’s song? Great! Rue’s funeral oration and her quiet talk with Lexi afterward? Incredibly moving and insightful. I’m less patient with the stuff about Nate and his dad, as well as all the drug dealer-related stuff, as I mentioned before. The thing that hooks me is the emotional weight of Rue’s story and especially Zendaya’s performance.

Besides the risk-taking and innovative storytelling, the big thing Euphoria’s got going for it is the caliber of the acting. It is UNPARALLELED. All of the actors do great and brave work but I want to really emphasize just how good Zendaya is. She is a once-in-a-generation talent. The acting world is so varied now, compared to when Marlon Brando arrived on the scene in the 50s. This is a post-method world now and actors of all kinds arrive at amazing results by all kinds of means. So I don’t think she’s going to shake the foundations of acting to their core or anything, but I wouldn’t rule it out. She’s that good. The level of commitment she shows to the material, and the reality she creates, sometimes embracing real hostility and ugliness, is extraordinary because she still remains likeable and relatable. And she never seems to be showing off either. I have been absolutely gobsmacked by her talent and skill throughout this series, but especially in the 5th and 6th episodes.

Euphoria is a masterpiece, if occasionally a flawed one.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:26 PM on March 2, 2022

Season 1 was tremendous. The depiction of addiction was so good, and the characters felt REAL to me. Loved the relationship between Rue and Jules.

But the interviews the cast has been giving about filming Season 2 with the director, Sam Levinson, make my Spidey senses tingle. From Barbie Ferreira (Kat) saying Levinson angrily axed her from most of the season after she objected to a 'dark' storyline, to Alexa Demie (Maddy) calling the gun scene 'traumatic' to film, to Sydney Sweeney (Cassie) saying she had to push back on the gratuitious nude scenes to a minor actor saying a later-cut scene with Zendaya had a 'gross pedophilia vibe'... and I could go on and on, just Google cast interviews...

Just... yikes. This show seems ripe for trauma and abuse of young actors, mostly women. Explicit or harrowing scenes are one thing, but pushing boundaries, pressuring nudity, punishing women for talking back... quite another. And those are just the public stories. Besides Zendaya, these are all (previously) unknown, replaceable actors. I have a bad feeling that in 10, 20, 30 years, if some of them are more empowered and/or have left the industry, we're going to hear much worse stories. I feel too squicky to watch Season 2 for this reason.
posted by rogerroger at 11:57 AM on March 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

Season one was brilliant, but I wouldn't say it was well-written. So many plot turns were over-the-top and implausible, and even at the rapid velocity that the show moved it still somehow managed to get repetitive. (Like, what, we're doing another false police report?)

I definitely believe that some bad ideas got axed this time around, because they settled into a few more plausible arcs and slowly developed them, like a more traditional hbo show would. Abandoning Kat was an obvious weakness, Cal's meltdown was too quick and simple, and the play at the end was more than a little self-congratulatory.
posted by anhedonic at 5:46 AM on March 12, 2022

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