Euphoria season two leaves much to be desired

Brina Sturm, Lifestyles Editor (She/They)

“Euphoria,” an HBO Original show, released its season two finale Sunday. For the past eight weeks, following the show’s 8 p.m. CST air time, fans have taken to Twitter to praise, hate, discuss and ultimately meme on each episode, character and show aspect. This season has taken many jumps and turns (and skips) in the storyline that have affected how the show stands in viewers’ minds. Because of this, this review will contain spoilers for season one and two. You’ve been warned.

Euphoria’s second season started off strong with two special episodes; Part 1: Rue and Part 2: Jules. Premiering Dec. 6, 2020 and Jan. 24, 2021 respectively, the special episodes gave us a deeper look into the struggles of the two main characters. Rue’s episode featured Rue having a deep discussion about addiction with her NA sponsor, Ali, and Jules’ episode featured a deep discussion with her therapist about her gender identity, sexuality and relationship with Rue. In Jules’ episode, she states that she identifies as a lesbian. It is important to note that Jules’ special episode was co-written and executive produced by Sam Levinson, the show’s writer, and Hunter Schafer, who plays Jules.

Both special episodes powerfully exemplified the individuality of the two characters. The first season of the show put both through traumatic situations with no real resolve. The “resolve” or turning-point for these characters appeared to be in the two special episodes. However, the power of these special episodes was quickly undermined with the introduction of the character “Elliot” in season two, episode one.

The official first episode of season two premiered Jan. 9, 2022, just under one year after the show’s last episode release. Fans were quick to deem that Sunday, as well as all following Sundays, as “Euphoria Day.”

The cinematography this season is as spectacular as it was in the first. The fact that the entire season was shot on film makes the cinematic feats that Euphoria takes even more impressive. Despite this impressive aspect of the show, I have a bone to pick with the show’s writer, Sam Levinson.

Levinson boldly decided to completely dismiss the storyline of McKay being sexually assaulted by his fraternity brothers. Whether this was an issue of an actor failing to return for the second season or not, brushing a man being sexually assaulted under the rug has heavy implications. The statutory rape which Cal committed against Jules is mentioned in nearly every episode, but the sexual assault of McKay was never mentioned beyond the moment that it happened on screen.

Kat’s cam-girl phase is another dismissed storyline that Levinson writes nothing on in season two. In fact, the only actions written for Kat in season two are breaking up fights between Maddy and Cassie and breaking up with her boyfriend.

Cassie’s abortion also goes unmentioned throughout the season. Even though Lexi’s play seemed to have an omniscient view of all of season one, Cassie’s most vulnerable moment was never spoken of or shown on stage.

Besides dropping storylines, Levinson failed spectacularly at developing characters. Jules and Rue’s relationship had no room to grow or thrive due to the introduction of Elliot. Jules cheating on Rue was no surprise to long-time fans, as her infidelity and actions in the finale of season one showed Jules’ character flaws. The idea of Jules cheating on Rue with a man, however, was a surprise after Jules’ declaration of being a lesbian. Elliot’s character hooking up with Jules and Rue’s alleged crush on Elliot creates a rift of lesbian-erasure in Euphoria. Jules’ special episode, which was co-written by queer trans-woman Hunter Schafer, was ignored completely outside of the mention that Jules expresses her gender by wearing a binder now.

Many storylines that were introduced in season two remain unfinished; however, it’s understandable if some things are left unsaid after a season finale. The disappointment sets in when the following season fails to recognize the existence of the season prior.