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Hear Me Out

Euphoria Should Ditch Its Original Format and Just Give Us More Specials

The HBO series could solve its time jump issue by taking a page from Skins Season 7's playbook.
  • Zendaya in the 2020 Euphoria special (Photo: HBO)
    Zendaya in the 2020 Euphoria special (Photo: HBO)

    In Hear Me Out, Primetimer staffers and contributors espouse their pet theories, spicy takes, and even the occasional galaxy-brain idea.

    Despite the show’s popularity, the future of Euphoria looks increasingly uncertain. HBO recently announced that Season 3, which was initially slated to begin production this spring, has been officially delayed. Per Variety, there have been disagreements over creator Sam Levinson’s scripts, which involve a five-year time jump and potential storylines like Rue (Zendaya, who was not on board with the changes) being a private detective or acting as a pregnancy surrogate. At this rate, it looks like filming won’t start until at least 2025. Although HBO maintains that the series has not been canceled, one cast member has admitted they’re doubtful that the season will happen at all.

    While the delay is disappointing, it doesn’t have to mean that all is lost. Euphoria could solve the crux of its Season 3 issues by ditching the show’s original format altogether and just producing more specials instead — in fact, it could take a page from the playbook of another teen drama, Skins.

    Skins, which ran on E4 from 2007 to 2013, has a lot in common with Euphoria. Both shows delve into the harsher side of teenage life by tackling issues like addiction, sexuality, pregnancy, and mental health. For its first six seasons, Skins rotated the main cast every two years. Series 1 through 2 centered on Tony (Nicholas Hoult) and his friends; 3 and 4 revolved around his younger sister Effy’s (Kaya Scodelario) class; and 5 and 6 focused on an entirely new group of students. Then for its final season, the show took a big swing.

    Also known as Skins Redux, Season 7 saw the return of characters from the first two generations, who were now in their early twenties. It was formatted as a collection of three individual stories: Fire, Pure, and Rise, each a two-part episode about a specific character. Although Redux received mixed reviews, its format was unique — it wasn’t a movie, a reboot, or a simple continuation, but something else entirely. And that just might work for Euphoria.

    Euphoria released two specials in between Seasons 1 and 2. The first, “Trouble Don’t Always Last,” centers on a conversation between Rue and her sponsor Ali (Colman Domingo) at a diner. Rue has relapsed, and she blames it on her breakup with Jules (Hunter Schafer). Unlike a typical Euphoria episode, there’s no glitter makeup, partying, or sex. It’s simply just two characters having a conversation about addiction, heartbreak, and life in general. The timing of the special (which aired in December 2020) worked in its favor, basically providing the closest thing viewers had to a collective therapy session during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The second special, “F*ck Anyone Who's Not a Sea Blob,” focuses on Jules. She talks to her therapist about the real reason she left Rue at the train station, abandonment issues that stem from her mother leaving her as a child, and why she’s contemplating going off her hormones. The episode is both captivating and heartbreaking, thanks in great part to Shafer, who co-wrote it.

    Although Euphoria has garnered praise for its storytelling and acting — Zendaya alone has won two Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and a Critics’ Choice Award for her performance as Rue — it’s also been subject to plenty of criticism. Season 2 was a disjointed mess at times, in part because so many storylines were scrapped and completely rewritten at the last minute. There are times when the show is truly exceptional, like Rue’s relapse in "Stand Still Like the Hummingbird," and there are other instances where it’s like a hodgepodge of naked people, nonsensical character arcs, and lines that sound like they were written just for the sake of going viral on TikTok. But the Euphoria specials, which are beautifully written and might even be better than either season, prove that the series is more than capable of delivering meaningful stories.

    Adopting a format like Skins Redux for Season 3 would open up endless possibilities. Instead of eight to 10 normal episodes, Euphoria could produce a handful of hourlong specials and center each one on a different character, which would give viewers a chance to get to know them on a deeper level. Without “F*ck Anyone Who's Not a Sea Blob,” we would have gone into Season 2 without having any understanding of why Jules left Rue at the train station. Similarly, a special about Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) might provide some answers as to why she was acting out so severely last season.

    The post-graduation years have always been tricky for teen dramas to get right. Some shows like Gossip Girl, 90210, and Degrassi: The Next Generation have tried following their casts to college, but this usually results in the characters unrealistically all attending the same university or quietly dropping out after only a few episodes. Others, like One Tree Hill and Pretty Little Liars, have opted to jump a few years into the future and skip over the college years entirely.

    Given that most of the Euphoria cast was already in their twenties or older when it premiered in 2019, a time jump is probably necessary for the show to continue. But this doesn’t mean Levinson should just age up all the characters and hit the fast forward button like Riverdale did. Specials could be a way for the show to slow down and return to its roots. At its core, such a format wouldn’t actually be too different from Season 1 episodes, which similarly focused more on individual characters.

    A series of specials could also prevent any further delays over scheduling conflicts. Although the actors are apparently free to pursue other projects in the meantime, it’s difficult to imagine that this won’t create issues when it’s time to start filming. The Euphoria cast is becoming increasingly more in demand, with Zendaya, Sweeney, and Jacob Elordi (who plays Nate) in particular scooping up major Hollywood roles, so asking them to commit to one or two episodes at a time instead of a full season might be more realistic.

    Ultimately, a Skins Redux-style season might be the best chance we have at getting more Euphoria episodes any time soon. Otherwise, these rewrites might take so long that Season 3 will have to be set in a retirement home.

    Kelly Martinez is a TV Reporter based in Los Angeles. Her previous work can be found at BuzzFeed and People Magazine, among other outlets. She enjoys reading, spending time with her cat, and explaining the plot of Riverdale to people.

    TOPICS: Euphoria, HBO, Colman Domingo, Hunter Schafer, Sam Levinson, Zendaya