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Euphoria can be very good and very bad at the same time

  • "For every pretentious overlong fantasy sequence, there’s a cutting, terrifically delivered Cassie comeback, a mesmerizing performance from Hunter Schafer, or a tense storyline with Eric Dane’s Cal that ends with a confession that is brutal and raw, but also completely and unnecessarily over-the-top," says Dustin Rowles. "There have been several inscrutable choices made this season. Where did Algee Smith’s Chris McKay go, for instance? Why has one of last season’s best characters, Kat, been reduced to a footnote? Why is a violent drug dealer the most sympathetic character on Euphoria? If Sam Levinson cut so many topless scenes with Sydney Sweeney at her request, just how many were written in the first place? Does Sam Levinson — who writes all the episodes himself (except for one episode last season he wrote with Schafer) — ever stop to consider if the show might benefit from some other perspectives? Some of the storylines this season are like something straight out of a CW teen soap, only given the illusion of being more layered by the number of drugs and sex scenes involved. It’s not to say that it doesn’t work — I’m invested in the love triangle between Rue, Jules, and Elliot, even if we’ve seen it a hundred times, only with less oral sex. Likewise, the only thing interesting about the triangle between Maddy, Nate, and Cassie is why anyone would be interested in an abusive POS like Nate — those cheekbones will only get you so far, chief — and also, how far is Cassie willing to push it before she comes completely undone? (I really want to find out. Burn it down, Cassie. Burn. It. Down.)" Rowles adds: "Yet, there are seeds that do ring true in Euphoria, overblown as it may be. Buried beneath the expertly choreographed sex and pretense, Levinson periodically stumbles upon a truly affecting moment, although it usually has more to do with the performances than the writing (a loving glance from Jules; a wounded look from Cassie; Rue’s vacant, glazed stare; a look of self-disgust from Kat). To wit, Eric Dane sold the hell out of a terribly written scene in (Sunday's) episode that saw Cal piss all over the floor of his home’s foyer and confess a double life to his family while his dick was hanging out of his pants."


    • Eric Dane's Cal showcase is Euphoria at its astounding best: "In its new season, Euphoria has asserted itself as a work of startling emotional power, a wellspring of visual and narrative ingenuity that is among the very best things on television," says Daniel D'Addario. "And its most recent episode — a showcase for actor Eric Dane — suggests the unboundedness of the show’s ambition, sprawling beyond the doors of high school to make a statement about the impossibility of human connection." D'Addario adds: "Among the most potent cases made by Euphoria is that one can ultimately never escape oneself. The show’s characters set out to change their lives — shifting romantic partners, ways of being, approaches to sobriety — but end up, again and again, where they started. (The fact that Zendaya, the series lead, plays an addict who keeps deciding not to bother getting sober epitomizes this.) Cal, a generation older, is wiser than his son’s cohort in precisely one way: He knows he’s stuck. And his aggressive break with reality, and with his family, feels less like an attempt to meaningfully change his life than to burn it down. Dane is simply spectacular as he, vision clouded by drink, explores the contours of a memory, then burns through it, playacting violence with the other bar patrons out of an inability to allow himself to contemplate what might have been for any longer."
    • Euphoria is spending too much time with Cal and not enough with Kat and Maddy: "I’ve read quite a few complaints that Euphoria’s second season, so far, is a meandering, pointless mess," says Kyndall Cunningham. "I can’t say that the series has ever been laser-focused on what it wants to say about modern adolescence. And honestly, I have a better time consuming it as a teenage, R-rated Seinfeld. But the time we spent exploring each character in season one felt more balanced, at least. It’s frustrating that Kat and Maddy are being sidelined in order to give Cal, of all people, some interiority. And that interiority is a bunch of crap. As far as the story goes, Sam Levinson has seemingly run out of ways to make Rue’s drug addiction compelling or even nerve-wracking to watch. The fact that he had to throw in a drug-dealing subplot to add more stakes to her already precarious life is telling. She’s had several near-death experiences. Most of her relationships are either significantly damaged or extremely fragile at this point. This episode, she falls into the arms of Labrinth playing a cantor in a literal coming-t0-Jesus sequence after getting high again. Unfortunately, I’m really not sure where else there is to go with this relapse storyline besides the most obvious outcome."
    • Hunter Schafer admits she's avoiding the conversation around Season 2: "I really haven't been looking or talking about (the show) that much," she tells EW. "Especially as it's coming out and it's everywhere, it can be overwhelming, so I try to avoid it a little bit more in day-to-day conversation and stuff." Schafer does understand why fans are concerned with Jules: "I definitely think there's validity in saying this might be the worst we've ever seen Rue," she says. "And there's more than enough reason to be worried about her and Elliot."
    • Sydney Sweeney was really grossed out by Cassie’s hot tub scene: “During the hot tub scene, during the throwing up, I got really grossed out,” she tells Decider. “They had this invisible tube that looked like a horse bit and they put it in my mouth and I had to somehow hold and make it look semi-normal and then throw up over everyone which was… It was so gross.”
    • Porn star Chloe Cherry is making the most of her scene-stealing role as spaced-out prostitute Faye
    • Eric Dane on his reaction to reading the script for Cal's final scene in the house: "I thought, 'This is fantastic.' I thought, 'This is so great.'" he says. "It was so well written. And then I thought, 'Sh*t, I better start working on this now, because this is a mouthful.' And then when we shot it, God, it was so much fun. Everybody was so engaged, so plugged in, so connected, which really helped me hit all these notes in this really fantastic monologue which lets Cal liberate himself within the dynamics of his family."
    • Dane discusses Cal's unraveling and having his penis out: “There are causes and conditions to what made Cal, Cal, and I think watching episode three, you get a lot of insight as to how he became who he became,” Dane tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It doesn’t explain all of it. You know, I think at a certain age, we are responsible for taking care of our own sh*t, and it’s incumbent upon us to do so. We’re no longer able to blame things on our parents....You’re not going to walk away from this thinking, ‘Oh, Cal, what a great guy. I get why he does the things he does, and it’s excusable.’ But there is some insight to give the viewer a better understanding. I don’t condone his behavior. I don’t advocate his behavior. But then again, it’s not for me to judge.” As for having his penis out, Dane says: “I can’t play this character with one foot in and one foot out, so I have to totally commit to it."

    TOPICS: Euphoria, HBO, Chloe Cherry, Eric Dane, Hunter Schafer, Sydney Sweeney