An illustration of a scene from Euphoria with the curtain closing on its second season.
Illustration by Abby Yang, Minneapolis College

‘Euphoria’ Drama Intensifies in Season 2 and After

It seems to be everyone’s favorite drama-filled TV show out currently, but will the behind-the-scenes drama ruin it for everyone?

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An illustration of a scene from Euphoria with the curtain closing on its second season.
Illustration by Abby Yang, Minneapolis College

It seems to be everyone’s favorite drama-filled TV show out currently, but will the behind-the-scenes drama ruin it for everyone?

The Season 2 finale of “Euphoria,” titled, “All My Life, My Heart Has Yearned for a Thing I Cannot Name,” premiered last week (aka the last “Euphoria Sunday” until 2024), but fans aren’t so thrilled with the way that the show’s second stint has ended.

“Euphoria” first premiered in June of 2019. With stars like Zendaya and featuring celebrities like Drake and Future on the producer list, it is no surprise that the show became an immediate success. The series was able to carve out a unique space for itself as a gritty, deeply moving teen drama, and its optics were a definite plus. “Euphoria” was renewed for a second season after only half the episodes had aired, and fans eagerly awaited the show’s return after the end of the first season. Delayed by the pandemic, the second season of “Euphoria” premiered earlier this year.

Although the Emmy award-winning show has already been renewed for a third season, there has been discussion about the show’s disappointing trajectory all throughout Season 2, and most of the reasons revolve around the creator and director, Sam Levinson. While Levinson remained behind the camera and out of the media during the first season of the show, the second season has brought a wide range of accusations against him into the light. A television director is prompting just as much discussion as the people on the screen, which is a strange position usually reserved for the stars of the show. On Sunday premier nights, he often trended on Twitter alongside names like Zendaya.

Levinson is the sole writer on the show. He wrote each of the episodes and directed all except for three. He has no writer’s room — a fact confirmed by HBO — meaning that the creative development of the show rests solely in his hands. Fans have heavily critiqued unfinished plot lines and plot holes that have gone unaddressed, such as the third Jacobs brother and the camera hidden inside of that closet. What has been arguably the most discussed topic is the number of explicit scenes written into the script.

While “Euphoria” is known for its gritty subject matter, many have said that the more explicit scenes, particularly those done by women on the show, are not at all necessary. A discussion about on-screen nudity erupted when Sydney Sweeney (Cassie) told an interviewer that there were scenes she felt weren’t necessary to shoot. Sweeney said, “I’ve never felt like Sam has pushed it on me or was trying to get a nude scene into an HBO show. When I didn’t want to do it, he didn’t make me.”

Other actors, such as Minka Kelly, have also voiced that they asked for nude scenes to be cut or deleted entirely. All of them assert that there are no hard feelings and that Levinson didn’t force them to film a scene they were particularly uncomfortable with, but fans on social media have taken issue with Levinson on their own. The number of explicit scenes, they say, is simply not necessary.

The other concern with Levinson being the only writer is that he doesn’t know how to write the diverse characters that he’s created. “Euphoria” has long been praised for the diversity of its cast, as well as the diverse experiences that the show explores. Levinson even shared that the show drew from his own experience with addiction. However, fans have argued that as a white, cis man, Levinson should allow for more diverse perspectives when writing characters such as Rue or Jules, who are biracial and transgender respectively.

Rumors have swirled around that Levinson had or has drama with other actors, as well. Submissions from accounts and rumors from the set have sparked accusations that Ferreira and Levinson had a fight on set, prompting her to storm off. While Kat, Ferreira’s character, had her own episode in Season 1 and an intriguing storyline as a rebellious cam girl, she became a background character in Season 2. Rumors of drama between herself and Levinson have led many to believe that he was the reason for her character’s reduced screen time and curtailed development.

The conditions on set have been questioned, too. Sources say that days on the “Euphoria” set could be anywhere from 15-17 hours long because Levinson often did not come with a shot list, which commonly details camera shots during each and every scene and keeps production running smoothly and efficiently.

Not all the drama involves Levinson. Fans speculated that a particular plotline involving Hunter Schafer and Jacob Elordi was abandoned as Schafer was “uncomfortable” filming with Elordi. It’s been speculated that plotlines were shifted, and Elordi was subsequently paired with Sweeney to begin their own plotline.

So, does all this matter? It seems that right now, it doesn’t. “Euphoria” has continued to shatter its own viewing records, despite complaints and rumors leveled against Levinson. The show, according to Twitter analytics, has become the most-tweeted-about television show of the decade. The show’s actors and actresses have received numerous brand deals, thousands of followers and new acting roles. Schafer is the new face of Prada, and newcomer Chloe Cherry has just surpassed one million followers on Instagram. The hype lives on for “Euphoria,” and it will no doubt continue into future “Euphoria Sundays” to come.

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Ally Xu

Northeastern University
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