At last, the long-awaited second season of “Euphoria” has arrived, and so far, it’s just as intense as it was two years ago, when the first season delighted teen drama fans. It has been debated, rightfully so, as to whether the show should have been in a high school setting due to its graphic and triggering nature. Even Zendaya (“Spider-Man: No Way Home”) had to put out a trigger warning for this season’s events. This season has proven to be just as controversial, as it blurs the line between adulthood and adolescence with its raw portrayal of the hard knocks of life.
There’s more petty teen drama, more drug dealing, more exhaustingly intangible emotions and more unexpected entanglements. So far, it’s a one-size-fits-all type of season, suitable to fit the tastes of even the oldest of viewers.
At the end of the first season, viewers were left wondering about Fezco’s (Angus Cloud, “North Hollywood”) backstory, but the first episode of season two starts off with a highly-detailed visual about his upbringing and how his grandmother (Brynda Mattox, “Acrylic”) and Ashtray (Javon “Wanna” Walton, “The Addams Family 2”) fit into his life. Throughout the episode, the stakes are constantly being raised, from Fez having to find a new drug dealer after Ashtray aggressively murders Mouse (Meeko Gattuso, “Night Rapper”) to a long-overdue confrontation with Nate (Jacob Elordi, “The Kissing Booth 3”) at a New Year’s Eve party. Meanwhile, the show’s protagonist, Rue (Zendaya), doesn’t get much screen time in the first episode, and her story picks up where it left off in the first season, with Rue a relapsed mess following her breakup with Jules (Hunter Schafer, “Belle”). However, we soon see this doesn’t stop Jules from reconciling with her.
The rest of the cast finds their place within the narrative as well. Lexi chops it up with Fez (the show’s new “It” couple?), and the show foreshadows a love triangle that includes best friends Maddy (Alexa Demie, “Nineteen on Fire”) and Cassie (Sydney Sweeney, “Night Teeth”). However, there isn’t enough emphasis on supporting characters Kat (Barbie Ferreira, “Unpregnant”) and her boyfriend Ethan (Austin Abrams, “This Is Us”), which leads us to believe that they will take a backseat this season.
It’s safe to say that the first episode is all about Fez, which is what viewers desperately wanted, and it sets them up for a crazy second season. Viewers are aware of what’s to come: friendship, betrayal and a battle between arch-nemeses that has only intensified since the first season.
The first episode creates an impressive sense of high emotions by utilizing its characters in ways that represent the downsides of navigating life through adolescence. Even though the first season has already begun to explore this side of things, the second season is set up in a way where we get to dive a bit deeper into the characters as they try to find their senses of self. For example, Cassie expresses how she needs to break the habit of being a relationship type of girl and focus on herself. This comes to fruition when she explains to McKay (Algee Smith, “A Black Lady Sketch Show”) that she broke up with him because they were in different places in life and that she sees no future with him because she’s already moved on. Clearly, this is Cassie’s way of trying to force herself to break free from the old her.
There’s a reason why “Euphoria” is as popular as it is. It’s stimulating without being overwhelming, keeping viewers wanting more. The second season has only just begun, and there’s no telling what “Euphoria” may bring for the rest of the season.
Daily Arts Writer Jessica Curney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.