Euphoria Is on Hold — But It Should Be Cancelled

Photography courtesy of Eddy Chen/HBO

Sam Levinson must be stopped!

Zendaya may be everywhere at the moment: on-screen in Dune: Part Two, slaying the Challengers red carpet in custom — and appropriately on-theme — Loewe, popping up court-side in her tenniscore best with BF Tom Holland. But one place we won’t be seeing her anytime soon? On our screens as beleaguered but beloved teen Rue on HBO’s Euphoria.

On March 25, HBO announced that the Sam Levinson-directed series is delayed yet again, with the scripts for season 3 still being written. The third season of the show was reportedly set to begin filming in the next several months. The tentative release date is in 2025, three years after the second season premiered. (So, will we be getting Euphoria: Old Age Home?) In a statement to Variety, an HBO spokesperson said of the delay: “HBO and Sam Levinson remain committed to making an exceptional third season. In the interim, we are allowing our in-demand cast to pursue other opportunities.”

At this point, HBO and Levinson just need to call it. The streaming service’s insistence on an unnecessary third season is indicative of Hollywood’s relentless greed, and poses the question: When is enough, well, enough? And more importantly, how much are we willing to squeeze out of an artistic idea in the name of a few dollar bills?

Here’s why it’s time for curtains on Euphoria.

Euphoria has long faced issues — most of them due to the show’s creator

This is far from the first time the hit series, which first premiered in June 2019, has faced delays. After announcing that the Zendaya-led show had been renewed for a third season, the 2023 Writer’s Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA strikes meant everything in Hollywood was on hold. In the midst of the strike, in July 2023, star Angus Cloud — who played local drug dealer Fezco — passed away from an accidental drug overdose. All of these would be enough to derail a show at the top of its game, but leading up to the release of the second season, Euphoria was already plagued with controversy. Or, more specifically, Sam Levinson, the show’s creator, was.

After premiering to critical acclaim, by the time the second season started airing in January 2022, it appeared that behind the scenes on Euphoria, things were almost as chaotic as Rue’s life on screen. In early 2022, Sydney Sweeney revealed there were supposed to be more nude scenes in the series, specifically concerning her character Cassie. While Sweeney told The Independent that Levinson removed additional nudity when the actress asked for him to do so, saying “I’ve never felt like Sam has pushed [nudity] on me or was trying to get a nude scene into an HBO show,” audiences still questioned the necessity of the proposed nudity at all. (Guest star Minka Kelly, who played character Samantha in the second season, also revealed to Vanity Fair her experience of pushing back on nudity for her character in the show).

And in August 2022, Barbie Ferreira, who played fan fave Kat, announced her departure from the show ahead of the third season. The news came after reports of tension on set between Ferreira and Levinson over her character’s arc and a noticeably diminished role between seasons one and two, and left fans upset and wondering what the heck was happening behind the scenes. (Unconfirmed rumours at the time alleged that Levinson wanted to give Ferreira’s character, the only plus-size person on the show, an eating disorder).

On top of everything else, and most likely prompting the delay of the latest season, is the fact that Levinson — during a time when robust and diverse writers’ rooms are essential to telling authentic stories — doesn’t have one. The creator is writing the entire script himself. Which sounds like a great way to further the marginalized voices of white men. *Extreme eye roll*

TL;DR: Euphoria was, and still is, messy.

HBO and Levinson are squeezing the integrity out of the show

Exacerbating the criticisms of the series is the fact that, after an inaugural season heralded for its realistic depiction of addiction, the second season left much to be desired, with critics calling it “frustrating and exhausting” and a finale that was “overwhelming.” At its core, Euphoria is a show about crippling addiction and the impact it has on those around you. And the first season delved into this theme in a meaningful and heartbreaking way. (That scene of Rue begging for Fez to sell her drugs? Shattering).

Levinson and his cast also created nuanced, complex and relatable characters who were simply trying to find their way, to varying degrees of success. In line with powerful dramas like Normal People and The Night Of, it should have been a one season mini-series.

While the second season did hold onto some of the tenets that made the first so special (episode five specifically left viewers literally gasping for air), overall it lost the plot, bringing in unnecessary storylines and dropping necessary ones as hard as Kat dropped Ethan (played by Austin Abrams) in the second season, with little to no explanation. Quick q, Sam Levinson: Why did Kat do such an abrupt turn on that sweetheart after literally just getting together with him in one of the most romantic moments of the first season?! By the end of season 2, it was evident that they were running out of material.

It’s not like Levinson and HBO are the first creators to try to make something our of nothing. Long before Euphoria, series like the CW’s Riverdale were going off the rails with their storylines, and trapping their talented cast in antiquated roles. Charles Melton may look back on his time on the show with fondness, but as a viewer there’s only so many storylines on the occult and time travel you can take on a show that was originally meant to a mom and pop crime thriller. (TBH, we all knew the jig was up when Chad Michael Murray guest starred in a jumpsuit and child’s rocket ship as the head of a cult). Riverdale, which ended in August of last year, went on for seven seasons.

In these cases, it becomes so clear that the powers-that-be are capitalizing on the dollar bills that come with dragging out the lifespan of these shows. And while money makes the world go round, when we’re ruled by it we lose the integrity and art of these productions. Which, for a premium streamer like HBO, should be the main guiding light.

Ultimately, Euphoria has done its job

At the end of the day, the series has done its job — or at least what any great show *should* do, which is tell a captivating story and catapult its actors on to bigger — and often better — things. Since the first season of Euphoria, former child actor Zendaya has cemented herself as Hollywood elite, taking home two history-making Emmys for her role and starring in a multi-million dollar movie franchise. And up-and-coming actors like Jacob Elordi, Sydney Sweeney and Hunter Schafer have also been catapulted into super stardom, with their performances on the gut-wrenching series leading them to star as Elvis Presley, break romcom box office records and star in the Hunger Games franchise, respectively.

Euphoria introduced audiences up to the next generation of Hollywood elite, and what more could you really ask for?

One thing people aren’t actually asking for? A third season of this show.

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