Every Sunday night into Monday morning, the "Euphoria creator-writer-director-showrunner-multi-hyphenate" Levinson's name trends on Twitter. "They’re not just talking about Levinson in relation to his writing for each episode," says Madeline Ducharme. "What they’re saying about him is far more intense: Highly critical fans are mulling over his eternal damnation. They’re bemoaning the sexual interests and escapades of his characters (and accusing him of having non-narrative reasons for including them). They’re even jokingly threatening drastic actions if their favorite characters don’t make it out of this season alive. Scores of viewers like the show enough to spout off hundreds of thousands of tweets and TikToks, fretting over the fates of its (perhaps too many) characters and plot points. But they also find themselves so aggravated with these developments that they take the time to fire digital missives not just at Euphoria the show, but at the man behind Euphoria. And these brassy critiques often move beyond just the show itself, aiming at his entire career. As writer Iana Murray put it in her most recent Euphoria recap for Vulture, Levinson’s writing and “his provocations … are not only a frequent target of criticism but a bona fide meme at this point. How did the Euphoria discourse move beyond all the on-screen teen drama to the off-screen social media drama with a target set on the man who brought the show into existence? I, an ambivalent Euphoria expert, will attempt to explain....For the Euphoria fans online who don’t follow Deuxmoi or read Reddit, their aggravation with Levinson might just be rooted in a general dislike of where the show’s headed this season. Many of the social media complaints about Euphoria center on certain characters and plot-points that have been seemingly abandoned in favor of a shifted focus on characters many fans consider to be loathsome, like Cal and Nate. With a single writer’s name popping up immediately in the credits (and remaining there under the headers 'created by' and 'directed by'), it’s only natural that fans would focus their attention—and frustration—with the show’s disjointed developments wholly on Levinson."
Euphoria has become too emotionally draining to watch: "Sunday’s episode, 'Stand Still Like the Hummingbird,' felt different," says Katherine Singh. "With my sister beside me, I had to look away several times as Rue put herself in increasingly precarious and dangerous positions on her search for a high. As Rue was undressed by Laurie and shot up with morphine, I felt antsy and short of breath. As Rue woke the next morning, trapped and desperately pulling on locked doors and windows to escape, my sister told me she felt physically sick. Ten minutes after the episode finished, while brushing her teeth in the bathroom, she had a full-fledged panic attack. And I’m sorry Zendaya, but no number of Emmy noms is worth that kind of turmoil. Watching my sister have such a physical and visceral reaction to a fictional episode of TV wasn’t only alarming, but eye-opening, making me evaluate whether or not I want to engage with these types of shows, and face these scary realities on screen at all. And TBH, the answer is no. Because — like the draw to true crime — while it may make me feel secure in the moment, ultimately facing these on-screen experiences doesn’t make me fear them less IRL, and leaves me thinking about them long after the show is over. Which, in a post-pandemic world, just isn’t worth it."
What should be a jarring moment is overshadowed by the overall lousy construction of the scene, from its dialogue to its pacing to Zendaya’s cringe-y attempts to appear threatening: "Clearly, (Sam) Levinson has a penchant for capturing lunacy in his work," says Kyndall Cunnigham. "But he still hasn’t mastered a rhythm or found a movement that feels natural for these long-winded meltdowns. Likewise, he seemingly instructed Zendaya to emulate the Tasmanian Devil for the entirety of this 12-minute scene. This cartoonishly psychotic performance ends up being rather comical and made me question why Gia and her mom couldn’t just pin this very small girl to the ground. When things occasionally quiet down for Rue or Leslie to say something hurtful—like when Rue strangely implies that her mother is to blame for her father’s death from cancer—these jabs are extremely limp. Beneath all of Rue’s hysterics, there’s the terrifying revelation that Leslie and Jules got rid of Laurie’s suitcase. I think this scene would’ve felt less sloppy if Rue was primarily reacting to this news. It feels unnecessary that Jules and Elliot are also present for her to yell at. Who cares about Rue breaking off her train-wreck relationship with Jules when the possibility of her being sold to sex traffickers is looming in the background? The rest of the episode is no less sloppy and awkwardly paced. After exhausting all of her energy (for now), Rue agrees to go to the ER to get detoxed, but Leslie actually plans on checking her into rehab. Once Rue realizes this, she pulls a Lady Bird and jumps out of the car, runs through an intersection and disappears into a residential neighborhood. After falling asleep in an alley, she wakes up in more pain from her withdrawal and decides to go to Lexi and Cassie’s house to raid their drug cabinets."
Give Zendaya all the awards for Sunday's episode: "This highly anticipated, highly criticized season of Euphoria has been burning through characters and story lines so quickly you could almost forget Zendaya is at the forefront of the show," says Brooke LaMantia. "However, last night returned her to the spotlight to remind us how insanely talented she is in what was maybe the most devastating, most intense, most delightfully stressful episode yet." LaMantia adds: "Although season two has garnered quite a bit of online debate and discourse, primarily around the dislike of creator Sam Levinson, there is zero debate as to how well Zendaya both continues to play a complicated character I do care about, even though I probably shouldn’t, and portrays the complicated truth of addiction and young adulthood. When are the Emmys, again?"
How Nika King got into the head of a mother whose daughter is an addict: "I went to my mom, even though my mom has never experienced this — she has six kids, none of us are addicted to drugs," says King. "But, she had her own battles. So I was able to communicate with her about different behaviors, like how addicts think, how they act, how they talk, how they behave when they want to get that hit. I think with the combination of my mom, some of the literature that I found and my own personal experiences, I was able to kind of form Leslie."