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Existential Binge-Watching: ‘Euphoria’ is back and more brutal than ever

As insane as it is to believe, it’s been nearly two and a half years since Euphoria first hit screens back in June of 2019. Thanks to a certain global pandemic bringing the entire world and entertainment industry to a halt, fans were left with only a couple of special episodes to tide them over until the next full season. And while those specials were stunningly well done in their own right, the season two premiere of Euphoria was a very welcome sight after such a long hiatus.

It was entirely fair to wonder what direction the series might head in its sophomore debut. It’s always difficult for any show to come back for its second season, let alone one like Euphoria that so intensely captured the attention of viewers everywhere. Not to mention, after the success of the specials that premiered over quarantine, the show could have easily opted to take a step back from its visceral approach to storytelling.

It’s safe to say, that was not the choice taken. In the best way possible, though.

The first episode of season two, simply put, delivered in every single way. And for those thinking that the first season stretch was harsh, this one looks to be gearing up to be even harsher and more brutal than its predecessor. So much so that Zendaya even put out a gentle and kind disclaimer that this series isn’t an easy watch for everyone.

Euphoria is meant to be gritty, highlighting an enormous amount of dark facets about life and the struggles that can come along with growing up and getting through it. As with the first season, no, this isn’t supposed to be your average everyday high school. There’s not many real life high schoolers that look or act like the ones in Euphoria and go through everything that they do. But the series takes all of these topics, all of these issues that are prevalent and shoves them into one place and one story in order to shine a light on them and explore them more deeply.

One episode back now, this second season doesn’t feel necessarily bigger than the first, but it does feel way more tense. Each scene - and especially ones like the part in the car with Nate and Cassie - is filled with this nearly suffocating intensity. Euphoria has already established that feeling before, but now it’s to the point of almost being hard to watch. The premiere grips on to you and doesn’t let go until the credits roll, which will be interesting to see if this holds steady through the remainder of this new season.

These emotional extremes are pulled off wonderfully due to the fact that it seems everyone involved with Euphoria is rightfully flexing their filmmaking muscles. The cinematography is as beautiful as ever, each frame bordering art that could be framed in a museum. The lighting is immaculate and really unlike anything ever seen in any other series or film. And it’s all truly tied together with the return of Labrinth’s soundtrack that’s featured throughout most of the series.

And this is all without mentioning the producing, the writing, the actors involved. It’s impossible to really single out any one of them from season two’s first episode, but there has to be some attention given to Angus Cloud for his portrayal as Fez, who looks to be getting more of the spotlight this season. But literally everyone does a ridiculously fantastic job.

As mentioned with Zendaya’s disclaimer, Euphoria isn’t an easy or even healthy show to watch for some. But for those that are able to: watch it. Season two is already breaking viewership records and production is finally once again leaning more toward normalcy than quarantine restrictions, so the series is more comfortable and confident than ever in what it’s doing. And if the premiere — and that explosive ending — is anything to go by for the rest of season two, there won’t be a single frame that doesn’t have your eyes glued to the screen.

Episodes air every Sunday, so while it’s not a light or laid back way to start the week, it’s a vital and important series that needs to be heard and experienced as it continues to cement itself in television history.

Jackson Horvat is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Jackson by tweeting him at @horvatjackson.

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