The official cover for Euphoria. The second season of HBO’s Euphoria premiered Jan. 9. PUBLIC DOMAIN

Major spoilers ahead for Euphoria Season 2 (2022). 

Is it the neon backdrops? The strategic and cinematic camera work? The superb soundtrack making you pause and look it up on Spotify through subtitled lyrics?

The first episode of season two of HBO’s Euphoria premiered on Sunday Jan. 9, and had fans reeling from opening credits to inevitable head smashing at its close. Since its debut, the series has created an excruciating wait for premieres on Sunday nights, which are spent scrolling through inevitable and endless TikToks and Twitter theories of what will happen next in Euphoria-land.

In between the TikToks of Cassie hiding in the bathtub, people streaming “Watercolor Eyes,” (a Lana Del Rey song debuted in episode three) and the theorizing of just about every character’s arc, it can be almost too hard not to get excited over the frenzy.

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The popularity of the show is no question. Season two alone earned the achievement of being the “the strongest digital premiere night performance for any episode of an HBO series since HBO Max launch” with 2.4 million views. 

To examine its popularity, it’s easiest to pit it against its genre’s — teen dramas — veterans, including the likes of Skins, Gossip Girl, Grand Army, or if we’re looking for a PG rating, The Secret Life of an American Teenager. 

Like most shows mostly viewed by teenagers and young adults, they featured an endless stream of drama and character development that made Friday nights feel exciting within fictitious worlds. But if comparing apples to oranges, Euphoria’s oranges are a lot more outrageous to parents than the CW’s Gossip Girl which was actually called a parent’s worst nightmare ten years ago. They might feel differently now. 

Most, if not all of Euphoria’s plotlines consist of very serious topics that are not showcased in the format of an after school special. From drug abuse to abusive relationships, the show, since its premiere in 2019, caught a lot of flack for having these older actors portraying highschoolers with such graphic storylines. 

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But really, who has ever paid for an HBO subscription expecting reality?

Like its predecessors, there’s one more element audiences need to bring besides LED lights and body glitter: suspended disbelief. 

Audiences spend the whole week examining dialogue and outfits for a show that’s narratively straightforward. Written and produced by Sam Levinson, the show has drawn speculation that, because of it’s incredibly strong pull with viewers, Euphoria would probably benefit from a broader writer’s room. 

In its own case, style and substance are not to be looked at individually in Euphoria, but more so an enhancement of stories we’ve already seen within a more modern —and sometimes even shock value — way.

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Melanie Navarro is the Arts & Culture Editor of The Statesman and a senior Biology/Psychology double major at Stony Brook University. Melanie is also the Fiction Editor at The Sandpiper Review. She has been a part of the arts section for four semesters, and when she’s not writing she is probably at a concert or binging the latest Netflix series.

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