“Euphoria” dominates television

HBO Max’s hit show “Euphoria”  aired its season two finale on Feb. 27. The show, written, created and directed by Sam Levinson, follows teenager Rue Bennett (Zendaya), her classmates and their families. “Euphoria” grapples with issues such as addiction, sexuality, dating, familial conflict and friendship — a wild ride for any viewer. If you have not finished this season, do not keep reading: There will be spoilers.

This season was fraught with contentious discourse on social media. I agree with some takes and disagree with others, as you might expect. For example I, like others, wished that Kat (Barbie Ferreira) had an actual substantial storyline. Kat had been one of my favorite characters in the first season, and her only storyline this season was not being in love with her boyfriend, and then gaslighting him. For a character with so much potential, I was saddened to see this development. I felt similarly about Jules’ (Hunter Schaefer) character this season. She barely had any lines in the last few episodes and acted completely out of character by cheating on Rue with Elliot (Dominic Fike).

I did enjoy seeing Lexi (Maude Apatow), Fezco (Angus Cloud) and Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) get to shine this season. Sweeney’s acting was particularly powerful, as her character Cassie went through the ringer in terms of both her friendships and her romantic relationship with Nate. I also enjoyed seeing Lexi, a self-described “bystander” come out of the shadows and speak her truth in a way that was both powerful and funny. 

Yes, I ship Fexi. No, I do not want to talk about the finale. Despite evidence in the show, in my heart I still firmly believe he went to the play. I stand by it.

Most importantly though, I think that the way that “Euphoria” became such a cultural phenomenon speaks volumes about modern content consumption. In the age of streaming, entire seasons of shows will drop in one day, leaving viewers to binge the season in a week and then forget about it for two years, whether it gets renewed or not. However, week after week, “Euphoria” would take over my entire Twitter timeline and TikTok “For You” page. Before the episode even dropped, “#EuphoriaDay” would be trending, and on Sundays at 6 p.m. PST sharp TVs would turn on, laptops would open and Fields Dining Hall would be a little quieter than usual, as everyone tuned  into the latest episode.

I know I am describing the broadcast model, but drawing out the release allows viewers  the opportunity to really dive into each episode and pick apart the characters, plotlines, symbolism and dialogue in a way that is often lost when binge watching a show. In my opinion, this is a part of what makes “Euphoria” such a successful show. Waiting in suspense, predicting what will happen next week and debriefing the episode with friends and on social media made me, as a viewer, feel more invested in the show’s plot. 

Despite some of my favorite characters getting snubbed, I thought this season of “Euphoria” was thought-provoking. My favorite part of the show’s content continues to be the manner in which it addresses difficult emotions and struggles, allowing us to understand characters in their full complexity. Rue says some pretty hurtful things to her family this season, but as viewers we do not hate her; the show successfully humanizes her and explores how and why she acted the way that she did. I am excited to see what happens to these characters next, and I look forward to tuning in to season three each week when it eventually drops, likely sometime in 2024.

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