“It’s a series that causes an effect of exhaustion”: the controversial success of season 2 of Euphoria


In recent weeks, it was difficult not to hear about the second season of the series “Euphoria” broadcast on OCS and Canal +. Why is this new season making so much noise and what did our critics think?

The Euphoria series , broadcast on HBO and Canal, created by Sam Levinson, is an American adaptation of the Israeli series of the same name, created in 2012 by Ron Leshem. In France, season 1 – broadcast in 2019 – had discreetly made people talk about it, when season 2 caused a stir on social networks. If the remarkable performance of the actors is widely underlined by the critics, what controversies are brought to him?

So what is the Euphoria series about ?
The series tells the story of Rue Benett, a 17-year-old girl fresh out of rehab. Back in high school, she meets Jules Vaughn, a trans teenager. Around these two characters follow their comrades, painting a portrait of a youth without taboos where the neuroses of the characters, drugs, romantic relationships and social networks intermingle…

Euphoria does not invent anything, it is yet another variation on the genre of the teenage series – high school students staged in the American high school – but the series aims to take the opposite view of this universe full of good feelings, by going into the trash. The objective: to deconstruct the archetypal characters of this universe formed by the captain of the football team, the freaks – to understand the overweight girl, the drug addict, the transgender – But, because there is a but, ” far to deconstruct anything, the series reinforces stereotypes by enclosing the characters in a very summary, very coarse psychologizing characterization , believes Mathilde Wagman,and this is given by the very form of the episodes. Each episode begins with a summary of the childhood of each character supposed to explain to us why the character became what it is. If it was ironic, if it was funny, I would have enjoyed it a lot. I find that basically, it’s very basic and therefore very problematic. ”

And that’s not the only problem for Mathilde Wagman. Certainly the characters are attractive, certainly even more so for young teenagers who would watch the episodes (prohibited for children under 16 😬), but what about the credibility of this series supposed to reflect adolescent torments? ” There is a total implausibility and at all levels, according to Mathilde Wagman. Nobody’s adolescence resembles that, but not only by the extreme side of the violence that these young people undergo and inflict on themselves, but also, for example, on sexuality. How can one represent adolescent sexuality while speaking so little of the reality of adolescent sexuality, namely the complex, obscure, mysterious discovery of one’s own body and the body of the other?”

The dramatization of the extreme sensations experienced by a troupe of restless California teenagers, all of whom are trying to feel alive, can cause you to feel so uneasy that you want to turn on your heels. “ There is an effect of exhaustion, explains Lucile Commeaux, that is to say that it affects me deeply. It seems very artificial, but basically, perhaps because love stories have something something embodied, there is a form of authenticity. Our reception remains the primary one, in front of an adolescent series, in front of the grace of the characters of that age .

Sam Levinson quickly plunges the viewer into a universe without filters: nudity, sex, violence… But according to Lucile Commeaux, it’s not the realistic temptation that concerns the director, “it’s the drive” . And when reality shatters this fantasized adolescent universe, illustrated by a music video aesthetic, it is at this moment “that the spectator is shocked, because he is almost absent” .

Olivier Joyard, critic and director: “There is an intensity at all times. It is both what attracts us and what repels us”

The palpable intensity underlined by the addiction of the characters is sought after by the creator of the series, Sam Levinson. If Olivier Joyard is not “convinced by his way of going to the end of his ideas” , he nevertheless attributes the success of this second season to the director’s work on the very notion of addiction: “The idea of addiction is central in fiction since the character of Zendaya revolves around drugs and she dives back into them […] But also our addiction to our desires, our relationship between spectator and spectator, what happens on screen and who is always a way to bring us back when we thought we were going to turn away. It happened to me several times with Euphoria .

Over time, Olivier Joyard deplores the over-aestheticization of the body by Sam Levinson, to the point of becoming “problematic”, bringing nothing to the series: “We wonder what it’s really for, what it says. Me, I’m not against filming naked bodies, including the bodies of teenagers, it doesn’t seem to me to be forbidden, but simply the way in which he deploys it. do.” Nevertheless, Olivier Joyard highlights the director’s capacity for experimentation, particularly in episode 5 and the sequence of the main character wandering in the city; _”There, something really fascinating is happening. At that moment, I tell myself that we are really touching on the deep subject of _Euphoriawhich is the kind of absolute destitution that we have in the face of the world, the body, and reality in general.”