Critics’ Corner TV Review: EUPHORIA Two-Episode Special


Sofia Cedeño, Features Editor, Senior

Euphoria is an HBO original drama series created and directed by Sam Levinson. It stars Emmy winner Zendaya, who plays the lead role of Rue, a struggling teenage drug addict and recounts her experience in high school after a summer spent in rehab. The show received great praise from critics and viewers alike, and after an astounding first season the show was renewed for a second. However, days before shooting for the second season would have begun, production was forced to shut down due to COVID-19. Fans were disappointed beyond belief as were the cast and crew, but a solution was quickly curated once they realized the pandemic would be sticking around for a while. 

A two episode special was announced in the beginning of November, the first episode was revealed to be centered around Zendaya’s character Rue. Viewers last left Rue in the season finale after a relapse when her best friend and potential girlfriend Jules ran away from home the night of the big school dance. Everyone was left wondering if Rue had overdosed and possibly died at the end of the season, but episode one cleared up all the speculation. We see Rue meet with her sobriety partner, Ali, on Christmas Eve at a diner. They discuss not only her sobriety and it’s direct tie to her relationship with Jules, but the world around them. Everything from mental illness to the purpose of our existence is touched upon in this episode, all in one-hour long scene of just two characters with two opposing views of the world. The episode forced those watching to wake up and see the world in a different light, to be critical of everything they are told and to remember who we are in our society. 

The second episode of this special revolved around Jules played by the ever so talented Hunter Schafer. We last left Jules in the season finale in the moment she ran away to New York City, leaving Rue behind in tears. Jules has returned back home after her father found her. She now attends therapy, and we sit in on her first session. Jules, for the first time ever, opens up about her transition and how she feels about being transgender. She tells her therapist about her issues with wanting to please men and hurting  herself in the process. Unlike the first episode, which acts as one long conversation, we get to see more about Jules’ backstory and what was going on off camera during season one of the show. This episode pulls back the curtain and explains so many plot points that were left unanswered in the first season, keeping fans excited and wanting more. The episode ends on a bit of a cliffhanger with Rue finally seeing Jules again for the first time since she ran away, and viewers  are left questioning what will happen next. 

Each of these two episodes display what this show does best: telling a story while simultaneously teaching the viewers a life lesson, sometimes without them even realizing it. The two-episode special did a fantastic job moving the story along enough for the fans to get excited, but not giving up too much that spoils anything coming up in the second season. The acting in these two episodes are tear jerking, with both Zendaya and Hunter Schafer doing an amazing job with the level of emotion and seriousness throughout each of the episodes. Both girls put on a show stopping performance which made the experience of watching even better. The fan and critic response has been overwhelmingly positive, once again proving the team behind the show knows exactly what they are doing. 

I recommend that everyone who is a fan of the first season watch this two episode special, and if you aren’t, I still recommend that you tune in. The two episodes have done something I personally have never seen before in a teen drama; they have made it more than just following an overly dramatic storyline. Every single person, no matter your age, race or background, has something to learn from these two episodes. The full first season and two episode special are available to watch on HBO’s streaming service HBO Max.