Illustration by Insiya Motiwala.

Glitter, Sparkles and a Deadly Craving: A Review of Euphoria’s Season 2 till now.

Euphoria’s Season 2: a total mess or a well-constructed descent into hell? This is my short take on the newly released season that was highly awaited by many.

Feb 7, 2022

Warning: This piece contains spoilers.
Euphoria never failed to surprise its audience. Bringing on fear and anxiety, the show has never failed to take me on a roller coaster ride. This season, even though highly anticipated, seemed to gather a lot of mixed reviews. Many point out that glitter and colorful lighting seem to be the main focus of the show this season. However, alongside the sparkles and grainy scenes of Rue, Elliot or Jules, the characters’ arcs seem to be taking them on a reckless downward spiral. I noticed how my feelings toward a character had become more conflicted in the second season. Character development? Maybe ... maybe not. The characters were never destined for happiness, but is the extremity of their depressing storylines necessary?
This season, we become aware of Lexi's feelings as an observer of her own life, Cal's veiled sexuality and Fez's descent into his bread-earning activities. Rue’s relapse is currently the main running plotline of the episodes; Nate gets beaten up (which he deserved) and Cassie descends into the madness known as love.
With this tragic unwinding of events, the latter is the only hope one has to cling onto as the show goes on. But we never get a break, as Cassie is insanely in love with Nate, who only leads her on while trying to get back to Maddy and Jules is insecure about not being able to satisfy or excite her partner. This leaves you to wonder: is it really that important to paint the unhealthy and unsafe sexual activities of 17 and 18-year-olds? In the context of the show, it is valid, but it paints a seemingly unrealistic picture of teenagers as hungry for sex. Except, they are only miserable people who are longing for love and affection and are constantly seeking out instant sexual gratification because that is all they can find. In Jules’ case, we hear Rue calling her a "whore" when asked about her previous sexual relationships, though Jules is only looking for love and security, which she can’t seem to find. The conflation between sex and love is one that is explored through various lenses in the show, though it remains to be seen if the characters come to understand and appreciate that distinction.
We are descending into hell and it is brought about by harsh clashes between the characters. Rue’s addiction is hurting Fez and Jules. Jules’ insecurity forces her to cheat (or it is implied that she does) and Cassie loses every sign of her personality and betrays her best friend Maddy. The only character that has something going for him is Cal and that too is embedded in destroying his own — already unstable — family when he comes out about his secret sexual endeavors.
I am left with conflicting emotions for the characters: should I feel bad for Cassie, happy for Cal for coming out or should I pity Rue? The characters’ stories are taking completely different turns from last season and all this seems to be leaving many conflicted and angry.
This lunacy brings about the darkness that we were always meant to fall into. At some point during the funeral scene where Rue — while intoxicated and hallucinating — dances with her deceased father, I hoped that we would pause and go back to the milder, good old days. We have all taken those old times for granted, but now we are facing darkness head on, not knowing how hard we will crash or how Rue’s overdose will affect those who matter the most to her this time around. We know it will be more grave than the first time, but how much worse ... we shall see in episode 5.
It is also important to point out the main theme of drug use in the show. The show doesn’t glamorize addiction or drugs, at least, not intentionally. Rue’s state is rather pitiful and heartbreaking. I wouldn’t want to have her as my role model because she is self-destructive and hurts everyone who cares about her, though it is critical to note that Rue is mentally ill and has been through tragic events in her life that only fueled her addiction. I can understand the critics’ view of the show’s glamorization of a drug-ridden lifestyle because we also see the normalization of drug consumption in contexts and settings we have all been to, whether it be high school, a party or a carnival. A show like this, with a young and impressionable viewership, is bound to have some negative effects and allures. That is why viewer discretion is critical.
Alongside all the madness, the show has always been predominantly known for its unique style, glitter and sparkles, exotic fashion and daring eye looks. However, to many critics, it seems that the show strays from its plotline in the most recent episodes, with characters going off the rails and directors seemingly prioritizing flair over content with pretty colors, balloons and rhinestones. Yet, that wasn’t the case for me and many other viewers. There indeed seems to be a huge focus on style, but that has always been the case. There doesn’t seem to be a huge neglect of the plot, but rather the characters falling into their infernal arcs and the way that was chosen to be portrayed allowed for more significant stylistic elements than in the prior episodes. In episode 4, there was a powerful scene of Cassie getting drunk, carelessly dancing and getting tangled up in balloon strings, where we could see her desperation. No matter how pretty Maddy dressed or how funky her eye makeup was, she was always meant to end in darkness. It was only through stylistic choices that such extreme events were experienced in a more intense and heartbreaking way.
Euphoria has always been a highly stylized show that portrays today’s teenagers and their struggles in the current world of evermoving toxic social realms, substance abuse and their recently discovered sexual liberty. The show never sold itself as having a positive or relatable story; it is, nonetheless, a powerful show that makes you feel cathartic and overwhelmed with emotions. The new season only shows the consequences of the characters’ unmonitored actions and relationships built on crumbling trust.
Mariam Diab is a contributing writer. Email them at
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