‘'Euphoria’ continues to push stylistic & sexual boundaries in season two

The HBO series is pornographic, traumatizing, and undeniably captivating

Analyzing Season 2 of ‘Euphoria.’

In Euphoria, sex, violence, and drugs blur together in every intensely theatrical episode. The HBO series is pornographic and traumatizing, woven together by show creator Sam Levinson’s beautiful aestheticism.

Narrated by the nonchalant and self-destructive Rue, played by Zendaya, Euphoria continues to push boundaries in its long-awaited second season.

Before delving into my thoughts, here’s a comprehensive summary of where the show left off.

In the first episode of the new season, Euphoria didn’t disappoint in terms of makeup, outfits, and melodrama. There were more naked bodies than I could count. Some of the nudity did feel gratuitous, but the rawness of the main characters’ internal struggles almost makes the uncomfortable experience of seeing “teenagers” strip easier.

Euphoria allows for a deep dive into desire through its unconventional structure. Each episode begins with a vignette of a beloved character’s life, often revealing their nuanced sexuality and identity through flashbacks.

So far in the second season, Levinson has let us into the secret worlds of Fezco’s badass drug dealer grandmother, Nate’s chaotic sexual fantasies of Jules, Maddie, and Cassie, and supervillain Cal’s tragic almost-love story with his best friend in high school.

Though the kiss between Cal and Derek was heart-wrenching, Nate’s montage stole the show.

Levinson’s aestheticism prioritizes the real—real bodies, traumas, and experiences with sexuality—but is also rooted in unreliable narration and drug-induced illusions. This duality is what grounds Nate’s opening.

After being beaten to a pulp by Fez, who absolutely shines in first three episodes, Jacob Elordi’s Nate imagines a life with Cassie in the hospital. Cassie is his American Dream—subdued and feminine, submissive and giving. She’s the kind of woman Nate can imagine having kids with.

Layered between the ideal Cassie are images of his ex-girlfriend Maddy, and, most importantly, fantasies of making love with Jules. Nate and Maddy’s relationship was violent and toxic, and this aggression is mirrored in every interaction he has with Jules.

Jules is the biggest threat to Nate’s sexuality. Not only is she linked to the trauma of Nate finding his father’s sex tapes in season one, but Nate obviously has an intense attraction towards her. 

To me, she’s the most interesting character to watch develop.

Played by trans actor and model Hunter Schafer, Jules made her debut in the show by biking across town in her signature pastels and miniskirt. Her entire identity was crafted around the male gaze, and it physically hurt me to watch her sexual encounters unfold.

Though Jules’ exterior is every fashion lover’s dream to analyze, she also has a deeply rich and interesting inner world. She rejects almost every binary possible, and her psyche and perceptions of self are what draw me to her.

In the new season, Jules is moving away from a hyperfeminine performance of gender—especially after her therapy session in her special episode. When talking to her psychologist, Jules revealed, "I feel like my entire life I've been trying to conquer femininity, but somewhere along the way, I feel like the femininity conquered me.”

Jules also seems to be the catalyst for many of the characters’ sexual and romantic developments. There’s her romance with Rue, her sexual encounter with Cal, and the unspoken relationship between her and Nate.

Jules’ character is layered and constantly evolving, just like the other characters on the show. Though many episodes feel fragmented and disorganized, the show proves how non-linear identity formation actually is.

Euphoria presents sexuality as a heightened facet of teenage identity, influenced by childhood experiences, trauma, and expectations from a binary-obsessed society. Rather than attempting to be “woke” by inserting millennial dialogue about rejecting stereotypes, the show lets its characters live in a space of contradiction and chaos.

It takes me days to digest each episode because of how jarring the storytelling is, but I log into Crave each Sunday for the ritual of a new Euphoria episode. I have no doubt the show will continue to dismantle boundaries and shock me as season two continues, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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