The Long Awaited Season Two of Euphoria Premieres on HBO Max

Jen Rosen, Associate Editor

On Sunday January 9th, HBO Max’s smash hitting show Euphoria aired its second season, drawing in over 13.1 million viewers across the world. This stat is +100% the 6.6 million average audience size the first season received when it first aired in the summer of 2019. When describing the three year gap between season one and two, Zendaya Coleman, lead actor for the series, said, “That long time was good for Euphoria. It allowed us to develop a sense of evolution for the show.”

Euphoria is centered around the first person narration of Rue Bennett, a 17-year-old junior at East Highland High School who faces severe mental health and drug abuse issues. Viewers watch as she navigates a world consumed by grief, social media, trauma, alcohol, friendship, dugs, and sex in the hopes to find escape and a sense of identity. 

The show is unprecedented in this light as it showcases numerous adolescent issues and the detrimental impacts it has on Rue’s character and those around her. Because of this, the show has often been criticized for its risque expression.

Despite these claims, many young adults have sought refuge in finding representation on the big screen. Specifically, the story of Jules Vaughn (played by  Hunter Schafer), a high school junior struggling with depression and gender dysphoria, has elicited strong compassion towards the repressed struggles of LGBTQ+ youth. Throughout the first season, viewers are taken down the dark past of Jules’ childhood. 

As young as seven-years-old, she dealt with severe depression and self-harm from her feelings of gender dysphoria. At age eleven, she was instituted to a psychiatric hospital, straining the already resentful relationship between her and her mother. Following her recovery, Jules began to transition and explore her gender expression and sexuality through encounters with older married men she meets online. Her story comes to show the easy-access, predatory nature of the Internet and its ability to draw in those who are vulnerable and weak into dangerous situations. 

Both Jules’ and Rue’s character change drastically when they meet each other and begin to form a romantic relationship. As a viewer, it is fascinating to watch the dynamic of the relationship as the presence of Jules helps Rue in finding sobriety while the presence of Rue helps Jules in finding identity. 

However, the precarious balance of their relationship is often tipped by the toxicity of substance abuse. Rue’s dependence on Jules for her sobriety often leaves Jules feeling locked into the relationship out of guilt and worry for Rue’s wellbeing. In describing the relationship between the two, Hunter Schafer said, “It goes both ways, a sort of codependence. Both of them probably feel as though there is a bit of a hole that would feel really good to have full again with one another.” With season one closing on Jules leaving Rue at a train station, the relationship between these two characters is an issue that is expected to carry the plot of season two.

The show has generated mass media attention and has sparked viral trends across social platforms. Open your Tik Tok following an episode on Sunday at 10pm, and you are guaranteed to find video after video of parodies, interpretations, predictions, fashion/makeup looks, and reaction videos of iconic moments from the show. 

With season two’s use of symbolism to express the irrationality of human emotion, the rich visual imagery of fashion and makeup has become a staple of the Euphoria experience. The iconic jewel-pointed eye makeup look has a unique vibe to express characterization with sharp lines showing boldness and confidence while lighter shadow palettes illustrate a softer innocence.

For everyone involved including audience members and cast, Euphoria is met with high expectations. In describing his aspirations for season two, director and creator Sam Levinson said, “My hope for the audience is that they have been through it with these characters and that they love them despite their faults and flaws and that they are excited about what happens next.”