TV’s most shocking teen drama? This is style rather than substance

In the first 10 minutes of the second series of Euphoria, there were footage of male frontal nudity, plus drug dealing and a scene where a child attacked a man with a hammer. The episode could have been called “Wonky Willies and the Narcotics Factory”.

These visceral images were meant to fill in the back story of hit teen seriess resident lovable drug dealer, Fezco (Angus Cloud). But Euphoria‘s problem remains that its visual punch is not matched by any emotional truth.

Once again, its “teens” – a collection of actors in their twenties led by Zendaya‘s Rue – never came close to capturing the complicated reality of youth.

This was revealed during the New Year party which included the bulk of the installment and where everyone was extremely confident and prematurely tired. In other words, they behaved like world-weary 40-year-olds trapped in the bodies of 18-year-olds.

Angus Cloud as Fezco in Sky Atlantic’s Euphoria (Photo: Sky)

It was hard not to conclude that EuphoriaThe 37-year-old showrunner, Sam Levinson, projected his own fantasies of what it is to be young in 2021. Happily absent was any recognition of Gen Z ‘s commitment to social justice or its anxiety about climate change. Euphoria also takes place in an alternative universe where no one uses TikTok or Instagram.

If it is spiritually empty, it still looks beautiful. With its strobe-lit silhouettes of beautiful young things dancing in slow motion, the New Year’s party had the opulence of a Lana del rey or Lorde video.

The brilliance never wavered, though Rue suffered a drug-induced near-heart attack and then sought out ex-girlfriend Jules (Hunter Schafer) on the dance floor.

There was one last twist when Fezco snapped and beat his jock enemy, Nate (Jacob Elordi), to a pulp. The camera lingered on Nate’s bruised face as the blows rained down. When it did, it hammered on the ongoing problem with Euphoria: that it is far more interested in style than substance.

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