Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3/5
3 years go, Euphoria dropped on our screens and shook the foundations for how teen dramas have been presented on the small screen. With an abundance of nudity and an unflinching look at drug addiction, Euphoria managed to weave several different characters and their stories around a larger cautionary tale, culminating in some unforgettable moments.
Trying to match up to expectations was always going to be difficult for creator Sam Esmail and in many ways, season 2 is an example of how expectation can be your worst enemy.
While the show does deliver some glimmers of brilliance, glimmers is ultimately the word to best describe this season. There are flickers of great dialogue, echoes of big moments and eventually segments that flitter out without much in the way of hard-hitting drama – at least not compared to what’s come before.
If there’s one thing you can’t fault Euphoria over though, it’s the visuals. The cinematography and soundtrack in this show are unique and absolutely incredible once more, and it makes for one heck of a spectacle. The trouble is, visuals account for nothing when the writing can’t match up.
The first season centered on Rue and her drug addiction, and that worked as an anchor for the show as a whole. In season 2, Euphoria plays out as several disparate stories that are eventually glued together to form a bombastic finale.
The first and last episode do work well to round out certain character arcs, but beyond that there’s no central focus and as such, the show doesn’t feel as driven this year.
Look, Euphoria is an undeniable success and I actually really like the show. I know there are probably a fair few people reading this review who are going to disagree with the final score (and how disparate that is to the episode scores) but given how much hype went into this season, the individual episodes are great but stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, season 2 is a definite step down.
There are several different storylines going on here, messily entangled around several love triangles and a fair few flashbacks centering on different characters and their past. Oh, and Rue ends up on drugs again…and then tries to get clean. That is pretty much it.
The central focus for much of this second season actually doesn’t come from Rue. She does feature here, but not until later on in the season when she starts dabbling with pills. Funnily enough, this produces some of the best material as Zendaya puts on another masterful performance as Rue.
However, her story is muddied somewhat by A love triangle of sorts, this time with new boy Elliot who becomes a complication with Jules.
The other love triangle comes from Nate and Cassie, who end up sleeping with one another behind Maddy’s back. All season long the show teases a big fight between the two girls but ultimately this whole storyline fizzles out without very much beyond a scuffle OFF-SCREEN. This is then dragged unnecessarily into the third season which is due to drop in 3 years’ time.
There are a few scenes involving Kat and Ethan, who are completely wasted this year, while Fezco and Lexi have some nice scenes together but nowhere near enough.
Some of these issues stem from a larger plot involving Fezco’s family, which threatens to come undone at any minute. The problem is, the whole gangster story going on here juxtaposes with the grounded Gen Z teen drama, and it feels disparate and awkward.
Beyond that though, Euphoria leans into its stylistic narration, backed up by its whimsical lighting and excellent acting to keep things ticking over the 8 episodes. In terms of substance though, there really isn’t a lot of it here.
When it comes to 2022’s biggest disappointments, Euphoria has to be on that list. I love this show but the second season goes completely off the rails, especially when you take some time to process the larger picture and how it all comes together.
Instead of leaving with a euphoric feeling, you’re more likely to come away with downhearted indifference over this one.
Verdict - 5.5/10