Euphoria season two has been a wild ride, many ups and downs have taken place throughout this season and have further deepened into the slow-building chaos that was season one.
I believe that there is a lot to unpack in this season and one that I am increasingly interested in is the intent and vision of the director.
All of the characters are experiencing their downfalls, in particular Rue, Cassie and in some ways Nate.
The show seems to position certain people as victims, it shows us how although villains’ are bad and morally corrupt we can sympathize and see their backstory to understand the way they are now.
I have begun to question the writer, director and producer (Sam Levinson) intentions with how he directs and writes certain characters.
This season has been captivating in typical euphoria fashion, good music, great cinematography and inspiring outfits. But all art, no matter how beautiful, needs depth.
I feel as if season two has only exacerbated the problems I had with the first season and here’s why.
Disclaimer: I was a massive fan of Euphoria in season 1 despite my issues but now I’ve grown up and I’ve started to think….
So one of the main things that hardcore fans of Euphoria love is the exaggeration of ‘there is no black and white’. The characters of the show contain mainly bad people or a Euphoria way of saying it is traumatised. Which of course shows that humans are naturally flawed and trust me there are many flawed characters on Euphoria.
A Quick rundown of the characters--- Skip if you wish.
Nate: A seventeen/eighteen-year-old boy who comes from a wealthy family (in housing development etc) who is either a sociopath or a psychopath. He spends the majority of his time blackmailing and beating up people (not all the time that’s just his side hobby) or even better threatening people with GUNS.
Link to more info.
Cassie: She is not the worst but is probably the worst if we’re being realistic to high school/Sixth form drama. Cassie is the ‘sweet’ ‘innocent’ hapless blonde girl who has no real personality.
Rue: A drug-addicted teen who is dealing with the trauma of her father’s death, she is played by Zendaya.
Lexi: Probably one of the very few decent characters out of all them, she is a creative who hides in the shadows of the self-obsessed people she is surrounded by.
Fez: A local drug dealer with morals and a big heart.
Ashtray: His loyal sidekick who has no problem turning to violence.
Maddy: She has an attitude, confidence and can be blindly loyal to the wrong people, she has the best outfits and one-liners. The funniest character in my humble opinion.
Kat: She has taken a back seat this season. I won't be discussing the rumours here
but Kat's character has always been a mix for me, yes she found her confidence in season one, however, if child pornography leads one to self-empowerment then that makes me raise my brow.
So why has Euphoria season two been a mess?
One of Sam's biggest weaknesses is his writing. Far as we know there is no writing room. As someone who is a writer I understand why you would like to have full creative control over your project, your project is your baby and giving other people power can be painful but having other creatives on board is beneficial, especially when writing a show with multiple characters.
The writing has been sloppy and I know some art nerd or film geek will tell me that it's supposed to be an expressive piece of work and it's not supposed to make any sense.
Give me a break.
It's highly pretentious to believe that film, shows, or art cannot be expressive while also being coherent.
One of my main concerns with Euphoria is the nudity
For a show that is about high schoolers the amount of nudity is questionable. As someone who is in sixth form (British high school) I find it very exploitative how Sam Levinson directs nudity.
Spoilers from here on in
Sam fans will say that nudity reflects the reality but does the reality have to include extreme close ups of peoples breasts? No, no it does not. It also makes me question who the intended audience is? The way the sex scene/ Nates fantasy are shot is very much from the male gaze
Is it necessary to the story and plot?
The character Cassie's story is very much about the exploitation of her body.
But if a director, writer or show runner can only express that in an actors/actress stripping then they are lacking in creativity.
Euphoria can be raw & real without being exploitative
The actress who plays Cassie, Sydney Sweeney stated in an interview with 'The Independent'
"Sam Levinson is Amazing... There are moments where Cassie is supposed to be shirtless and I would tell Sam, I don't really think that's necessary here"
This is all good and well but isn't it concerning that there was even MORE nudity than what we have seen throughout these two seasons. As I said earlier I was a massive fan of season one, I was aware of the criticisms and problems but I still thoroughly enjoyed it but if I have to be honest I was more in love with the aesthetics, feel and cinematography of the show rather than the plot.
It takes maturity to admit that.
Sydney wasn't the only actress to speak up about nudity in Euphoria although seemingly not minding it. Minka Kelly who takes a minor role in rich house wife, states.
"Levinson thought it would be more interesting if my dress fell to the ground... That was my first day as a guest on this show, and I didn't feel comfortable standing there naked"
It seems as if Euphoria ,like most Tv shows relay on generic shock factors to pull in the audience.To me what is jarring is how the majority of the female characters in Euphoria storylines revolve around sex. Yes, teenagers (me) want to explore our sexuality but that doesn't mean that all teenagers are all sex obsessed.
Which leads me to ask who is the target demographic for Euphoria?
It's certainly not young teens but if the shows characters are age 16- 18 and if 'mature' Euphoria fans are hell bent on proclaiming that teenagers brains are not developed enough to absorb or understand Sam Levinson 'complex' show.
Who is Euphoria really for?
When creating a body of work there will always be thoughts put into the marketing strategy and the demographic you're aiming to target. Many creatives will create a market research (which I conducted myself for the book that I am writing Amber & Ice) to see what type of audience I attract for my project.
What I am trying to say is Euphoria seems to be unclear with it's messaging. It's true teenagers have sex do drugs and make terrible decisions but I wouldn't be surprised that a large chunk of the 38,619 men (if heterosexual + according to IMDb ratings) who watch Euphoria gleefully watch the porn like close ups and overly sexual scenes of fictional teenagers.
Kat's storyline was undoubtedly more developed in season one, her confidence was inspiring, it was nice to see a plus size character not be represented as frumpy and undesirable.
BUT and it's a big but the way Sam does this is by making Kat become a cam girl because what's more empowering than an underaged high schooler sell her body online. It's ALRIGHT GUYS she is a dominatrix. So that definitely changes the situation...
*takes a sip of water*
"It's not okay"
As I said it's normal as a teen to want to explore who you are but the audience from what I've seen thought that sleeping with random guys was a way for a young woman to find her confidence. Side note: Confidence, real confidence comes from within.
This is such a male gaze feature and if not a male gaze feature, a feature that main stream audiences regardless of gender identity has conformed to.
It's disappointing to say the least.
Also,why was Kat dancing around in the Cassie x Nate scene in episode seven season 2? That made me cackle and not Cassie giving away her self respect and dignity to Nate only for him to dump her In a matter of minutes.
Long story short. Nate is abusive, psychotic and used to be in a long term on and off relationship with Maddy. Maddy is best friends with Cassie.
Cassie then decides to sleep with Nate continuously until Rue (the real queen) out's her.
Many characters on this show need a part time job this would definitely occupy them.
Lexi experiences the same emptiness Cassie does.
Lexi wasn't as close with her father so it was harder for her to be manipulated by his charlatan ways.I loved seeing the flashback to the Howard household and them all being happy together. Some people will say Lexi's play was out of order *shrug* compared to the other nonsense that happens throughout the series I can't say I am surprised.
Was Cassie's doppelgänger riding a carousel horse a bit much... I'll say yes.
Instead of Lexi falling into toxic relationships with boys she struggles to say no to the people she feels loyal to; in this case Rue. Both sisters handle their trauma differently but they both turn to love to fill a hole instead of them. As a writer and as a person I related to Lexi the most.
Nate is a bad person.
Period. - Some triggering points are made next.
Nate at age eleven finds his fathers self made porn collection with transexuals, young boys women so on and so forth. This damages him severely and his trauma is valid.
But him threatening, blackmailing and assaulting other characters on the show is unacceptable.
All the characters are flawed and as spectators we should feel sympathy for them, one of my few favourite things about Euphoria is how parents are the root of a lot of the characters trauma.
It's rare for a show to cover that, I speak about toxic parents in another one of my uploads go check it out.
Just because you have trauma it doesn't excuse your bad and damaging behaviour. It is an explanation not an EXCUSE!!
Rue's storyline this season has been one of my favourites, Sam Levinson was an addict himself so when writing and showing Rue's character that's when his best work shines through.
Episode 5 in my opinion was the best and also the peak of the season in terms of writing. WE saw the toxicity of Rue as an addict and the aftermath of her Mother finding out about the 10K worth of drugs she has been storing in a suitcase.
Her character improves massively by episode 8.
But there's a problem. Sam has a habit of opening up these huge plot holes and not knowing how to handle them.
There is no mention, not even ONE LINE to reference to Laurie, the drug lord who Rue owes thousands of dollars.
Laurie does tell Rue not to mess with her money and also implies that she has no problem selling her body to make it back if she fails.
Viewers of Euphoria weren't asking for it to all be wrapped up but for it to at least be implied that Rue won't be able to walk away as if nothing happened.
Episode 2-4 seemed to feel like filler episodes.
Episode 7 was intense, Lexi's play was brilliant but I got fed up with the constant cutting I wanted to be immersed in Lexi's play stop ✋ pulling me away from that Sam! As always the transitions were beautiful.
Stop infantilising Cassie.
I posted a Video on Tik Tok analysing Cassie's character, so go watch that to get a full picture of my opinion of Cassie. Tap NOW
Cassie has major daddy issues and little to no self esteem ✅
Cassie stans will call you all sort of names under the sun and say you have no empathy. I feel sorry for her, I've had low self esteem and literally had to cover the mirror with a blanket because I felt so ugly.
But the one thing I had/have is self respect.
Having those issues doesn't give you permission to you sleep with your best friends abuser. Daddy issues is not a good enough excuse to be a low vibrational human being.
People who defend Cassie are either mini Cassie's themselves and resonate far TOO much with her insecurities OR are simply rooting for her on superficial reasons.
Even in season one Cassie was always positioned as a victim.
You can be a victim but not a victim in all circumstances, I had a friend like Cassie, watching and reading so many people lick her 'innocent' little toes is painful.
Even in season one where Mckay is sexually assaulted Sam somehow makes the scene about her.
In conclusion people like Cassie are toxic and extremely selfish and the majority will always throw on their capes for individuals like her.
The thing about the Cassie's of the world is that it doesn't have to be real love, real genuine relationships just anything to fill a void. That's sad, but you don't hurt the people who really care about you that's cruel.
Comment from viewer
I also think Mckay's storyline and the way it's been dealt with has been atrocious. To show a black man being sexually abused without exploring how he feels about it and using his pain only to further the plot of a white character is pretty terrible and probably one of the show's biggest failures so far.
This was and continues to be a failure on Sam's point and let's be honest Cassie wouldn't be getting half the sympathy she is if she wasn't Hollywood's convention and standard of beauty, blond hair blue eyes.
For a show that claim's to be diverse and 'different' there are barley any ethnic minority characters.
Also why did Elliot have to be a wedge between Rue and Jules? Yes those two aren't good for each other but the trio was the only glimpse the audience got of what REAL high school is like. Ie running around doing dares etc etc having fun!
Why is there no dialogue referring to school? Like what is this school? Levinson couldn't have added a line like... "Can I borrow your homework?" "Do you wanna skip class?"
Let them at least have a backpack or a big handbag to carry books!
Sam Levinson is very much like French director & writer Godard in terms of his attitude to his visual projects using art as an excuse for laziness.
What is the Writer & Directors intention?
Sam Levinson takes the extreme with these universe of characters. But is it necessary? Do we have to empathise with every shit character we come across?
Not everything is black and white and people are complex.
But some people are just shit and the things they do are equally as shitty.
I fear that Euphoria has only lead it's viewers to do exactly that, I wouldn't say Euphoria glamorises drugs maybe it seems that way due to the pretty lights and cinematography in season one but in season two I have to disagree.
Does Euphoria glamorise underaged sex?
Most definitely and it does it in a way that is honestly just not it.
People say that Sydney Sweeney's character- Cassie almost needs to be filmed in a gratuitous manner because it 'reflects' the characters trauma of being sexualised. Because the slideshow of Cassie's nudes (season one) wasn't enough to insinuate that...
And in all seriousness the majority of teenagers are virgins.
This is why I feel sex education (on Netflix) shows realistic experiences that teenagers actually go through also the main writer of the show is a women... so that explains the difference.
If a majority of a characters scenes are all boiled down to one aspect of who they are then I am sorry you have failed as a creative because real people aren't just ONE thing...
Sam Levinson could've tried to make Euphoria at least have a proper set up of a high school because it seems as if he is projecting his own fantasies onto the characters, in particular Cassie's.
I am not accusing him of anything just stating an obvious observation.
Maddy lost her virginity to a 40 year old man when she was 14 but it's alright she was in control.
Yeah sure bud, don't look at me, I wasn't the one who put that in a script.
Just in case you think I am lying click here - skip to 3:10 -3:17
People still defending it: That's the thing tho - Rue's narrations are from a unreliable narrator's perspective. When Rue narrates, it isn't always objectively true, it's what the character she's narrating thinks it's true, along with her commentary (remember in Kat's story when she said an army would come to her school?).
it's disgusting at this point.
Other viewers opinions
Is anyone else getting tired of Euphoria? The male gaze direction, character choices (that make less and less sense to me) and the one-note ness of the female characters is beginning to irritate me. I feel there is a lack of complexity and instead, we are being presented with an overabundance of nudity, swearing and drama bombs meant to "shock" and "surprise" us. Just because the actors are beautiful (and famous and rich), the story topics are "dark" and the music is good, it doesn't automatically make the show good.
I have to say… this season is lacking purpose and vision.
There is absolutely no storytelling here with the exception of the one centred around Rue. The play didn’t really provide any unexpected insight or character developments which makes me question the build-up to this the entire season.
Another reason why Euphoria is a mess is the blatant blind loyalty to Sam Levinson, his way of retaliating to his criticisms was to create Malcom & Marie and that was all pretty shots, angles and music with a lack in substance.
Teenagers do crazy things.
I know that, I've seen that but the craziness isn't the only thing that makes up teenage hood.
Usually when someone goes too far with drugs and alcohol people usually begin to look at them sideways or tell them that the 'fun' has gone too far.
There are so many things to talk about in season 2 and the whole series in general but unlike the Euphoria students I have actual school work and goals to reach...
Will I be watching season 3 which is in 2 years time? In all honesty probably not but who knows...
That is all for now
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