‘Euphoria’ season 2 review: Zendaya returns for HBO’s dull teen angst drama

Despite Zendaya’s attention and awards, the HBO series remains so bleak and empty that series creator Sam Levinson will over-define the extent to which standards are being pushed around nudity, sex and drug use. (Answer: It’s really far.)

‘Euphoria’ worked overtime to distinguish it from the soapy smell of the airbrush “gossip Girl” or other television contributions to the genre, striving to rival the most original films exploring these areas or premium series “generate + ions” and “13 Reasons Why” is itself a source of controversy.

However, any TV show ultimately boils down to characters, and that’s where the series falls short, even with the fantastical flight — which gives certain plots an almost dreamlike quality — and the harsh narrative provided by Zendaya’s Rue, who shares his relationship with the cast. Addiction struggles persist.

Levinson structured the season as a series of stories involving individual characters, which he gradually brought together over seven preview episodes. However, the problems at work are repetitive, at the heart of which are Rue’s relationship with Jules (Hunter Schafer) and a triangular relationship involving Cassie (Sydney Sweeney), Maddy (Alexa Demie) and Nate (Jacob Elordi), each in their injured and damaged in life. own way.

Despite efforts to flesh out some of their history, the new season doesn’t quite break away from the earlier trend of relegating parents to monsters or ineffective old horses, reminiscent of the unseen voices of old Charlie Brown comics.

Criticizing “Euphora” because someone weaned on earlier generations of teen dramas could risk a certain “off my lawn” quality, and the show also has critical admirers and ardent fans, Win an Emmy for Zendaya Season 1 and the intensity of her acting.

That said, as written, the characters almost dare to make the audience care too much about them, and the show’s attempts to be edgy at times feel gross, including a later encounter in which a gun acts as a sort of ex- The play was waved.

Granted, in the age of streaming, a show like this isn’t intended to be everyone’s cup of tea, and there’s no need to, the advantage being that “euphoria” attracts viewers who may not be watching other shows regularly on HBO or HBO’s largest limit. (It returns with another series that offers a different take on dysfunctional families, “Jewels of Justice,” which isn’t a particularly compatible pairing.)

The teenagers in “Euphoria” (usually played by someone in their 20s) didn’t corner the market with self-absorption, and apparently didn’t invent it. Ultimately, though, the latest batch of episodes unfolds with a grim, unpleasant efficiency that makes every bit as numb as Rue sounds.

The second season of Euphoria will premiere on HBO on January 9 at 9 p.m. ET. Like CNN, HBO is a unit of WarnerMedia.

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