The Rise of HBO’s Euphoria

HBO’s hit series is finally back. While many fans tune in to enjoy the series every Sunday, there’s much to evaluate.

By Francesca Sipos

Teenagers and young adults are a very peculiar section of the consumer industry. There is a lot of profit to be made off them by targeting their interests in the world of media. One thing about the youth that never changes is their need for drama, controversy, and representation. Teens also tend to be diehard fans of all kinds of forms of entertainment. Online fandoms have contributed more to the promotion of series than buying commercials. Yet just because your target audience is (mostly) teenagers, that doesn’t mean you can just pump out anything. No, no… The online sphere has also made teens more critical of what they consume and what deserves to be an evergreen. For example, Skins (UK) while highly controversial, is also much beloved for the realistic representation of teenagerhood – by that I mean on a mostly emotional level. The Norwegian series SKAM was able to create an “in universe” environment by giving the characters Instagram profiles as if the series ran in real life. Skins spent an episode focusing on one character and SKAM spent a season focusing on a character. This let the audience experience different sides to the same story, choosing to relate to which character had a more similar issue to themselves. The writers would heavily rely on advice from their young cast and interact with the fans online. Therefore, it felt less ‘cringey’ and dated to watch these shows. The creators and the writers were actively working on understanding and representing the people who watched their shows.

By the latter half of the 2010s, more and more people would call out the antics of teen series. Such as casting actors in their 20s to play teenagers, which allowed the show makers to portray sex between two underaged characters as well as drinking, smoking etc. Young adults started to get disillusioned by shows that were trying to cater to them. Until Sam Levinson appeared to pitch his remake of an Israeli show named Euphoria. This pitch would go through, and Levinson would create one of the most-watched series currently: HBO’s Euphoria. After a successful, and controversial first season in 2019, the second installment of the series is being released in 2022.

Euphoria – Season 2 Trailer

Right now, the series is sitting on the 4th episode out of 8, meaning we are currently at mid-season. Of course, there has already been much feedback online. The nearly three-year break can really be felt in the series. Somehow the actions of season one only seem partially relevant and influential on the second season. For example, Rue’s (played by Zendaya) character development is all over the place. Previously, she has been more self-aware about her addiction and the series shed light on her struggles with OCD. However, her OCD and guilty conscience have apparently disappeared into thin air resulting in plot holes. In this season Rue is extremely selfish: she continues to lie to people she supposedly loves; her untruthfulness causes them to suffer. The relationship between Jules and Rue also feels a bit rushed – beforehand Jules left Rue even though the latter fell head over heels for her. Jules always had her “boy troubles” plus the writers seem to have hinted at a romantic connection between Rue and her best friend Lexi. I am assuming the writers want to give Lexi a romantic subplot, they just have no idea with whom. She has been linked to Rue, Fez, and maybe even Kat’s boyfriend Ethan. Another romantic relationship that has caused an outroar is Cassie and Nate. Sure, it has been proved that due to her alcoholic father Cassie enters abusive relationships, but really? Nate? It feels a bit cheap and overdramatic to me, although still more believable than how they flashed out Jules’ and Rue’s relationship. Talking about Nate, I simply cannot wait to see his character’s full backstory and all the messed-up things about his family. For example, who is the third boy next to him and his brother in the family photo? I also hope they explain his connection to Jules because it is clear he is more interested in her than in either Cassie or Maddy. On the topic of Maddy, it feels as if she and Kat have been pushed back a bit. Right now, the storyline’s focus is the characters that weren’t in the limelight the previous season. The plot concentrates more on Lexi’s struggles, Cassie and Nate, the love triangle between Rue-Elliot-Jules, and Fez’s ‘drug dealer’ antics. The new character, Elliot, was introduced this season as Rue’s confident. He enables her drug use and has expressed tender feelings towards both Rue and Jules. Nevertheless, there is something manipulative and shiesty about him, thus I wouldn’t be surprised to see him exit the show after the second season.

As we still have a handful of episodes until the finale, I highly recommend dear reader that you join in with me! Euphoria season two episodes premiere on HBO every Monday morning (standard European time).

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