I was late to Euphoria. I didn’t watch the first season when it premiered in 2019, only catching up in the winter of 2021, as I sought something to fill my long break.
Yet, as season 2 approached, it felt like there was no escaping Euphoria content on social media. On Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram, many fans had something to share, whether it was anticipation for a new episode, theories, memes, or general reactions to the show. Euphoria’s prevalence online led it to hover between first and second on Variety’s Trending TV chart, which tracks Twitter engagement around TV shows. Now, more people are watching Euphoria than ever. Season 2’s viewership increased nearly 100% from season 1; 13.1 million viewers tuned in to the premiere. While part of this is due to Zendaya’s popularity, it also reflects the greater social media engagement with the show in general — opening up the fan base to include people who may not even be keeping up with episodes in real time.
Days before the new season debuted, videos anticipating the release — some with more than 17.9 million views — popped up on my TikTok For You page. I was intrigued, not just by the show, but by the reaction online. Euphoria was dominating social media, and I, quite honestly, didn’t want to be left out. So on Jan. 9, I tuned in to the first episode right as it aired. As early as the day after, social media was flooded with Euphoria content. People were recreating each episode on TikTok, reenacting scenes with very little context — basically rehashing notable moments, in comedic short form. Some of the most popular ones were viewed over 6 million times, and some content creators have devoted their entire accounts to Euphoria recaps.
Those who, like me, had seen the episode could easily understand these TikToks and other social media posts. But they also functioned like recaps for those who hadn’t. Content creators even drew in fans who had never watched Euphoria but were able to get a glimpse into the show without having to pay for an HBO Max subscription. Some jokingly remarked that their Twitter feed after each week’s episode was enough to get them caught up, even if some of it was incredibly out of context.
At the same time, Euphoria stars also added to the social media flurry. Actors who were cast as extras in the season premiere dished about their Euphoria experiences. Angus Cloud, who plays drug dealer Fez, posted a video on Instagram of himself hitting fellow Euphoria star Jacob Elordi on the head with a bottle — behind-the-scenes footage of a scene that appeared in that first episode.
I started working Euphoria into my weekly schedule, trying to watch as close to air time as possible to avoid being spoiled by social media. Like clockwork, as each episode ended — or even sometimes during — social media came alive. On TikTok, users poked fun at the absurdity of Euphoria’s East Highland by pretending to go to “Euphoria High School.” In the trend, a TikToker will walk into the frame with a “normal” outfit. An audio clip featuring Squidward asking SpongeBob “and why aren’t you in uniform?” will prompt them to reenter the frame in an outrageous outfit, like those worn by Euphoria characters, that would certainly violate any other high school’s dress code.
The number of trends has only continued to grow. In a newer one, users remark on how unrealistic Euphoria is and then give a plot about “their high school.” After reading a few lines, it becomes clear that the details about “their high school” are references to another TV show. Often, these are other popular teen dramas like Glee, Secret Life of the American Teenager, and Pretty Little Liars. Some have also posted videos recasting the show with an all-Black cast, former Disney Channel stars, and even popular influencer Trisha Paytas.
Audio that comes directly from Euphoria has also blown up on TikTok. While scrolling through the app, you’ll probably hear Labrinth songs from the show, like “Forever,” “Formula,” “Still Don’t Know My Name,” or “All for Us. These tracks were part of the first season’s soundtrack and have hundreds of thousands of streams on Spotify. Audio from specific scenes has also become popular, even with non-Euphoria-related content. A sound bite from Cal and Fez’s scene in episode 4 (“I’m extremely confused/You’re confused, I’m fucking confused bro”) is featured in nearly 250,000 videos, and Maddy’s reaction to Lexi’s play in the promo for episode 7 (“wait, is this fucking play about us?”) is used in more than 60,000 as of writing. Although this is common on TikTok — audio from TV shows is often used on unrelated videos — it shows just how pervasive Euphoria is on the app.
Euphoria is certainly not the first or last social media fascination. Almost a year ago, WandaVision saw a similar explosion, inspiring countless TikToks and memes about its characters, most notably Jimmy Woo. Before the new season of Euphoria, people were swarming to Yellowjackets with analyses and fan theories galore.
Online platforms have become a popular medium for viewers to process film and TV in general. But Euphoria’s striking aesthetics and complex storylines have made it a natural match for social media. The fact that audiences must wait a week before watching a new episode only builds anticipation, drawing people in. As one TikToker pointed out: “It’s like a book club sponsored by HBO and our obsession with toxic hot people.”
I wasn’t initially interested in Euphoria, but the show has grown on me throughout the past few weeks — thanks to the wild outfits, hilarious recaps, and never-ending stream of Labrinth music on my For You page. I’m looking forward to seeing what creator Sam Levinson has in store for the season finale. And even more so, I’m excited to see the memes it inspires.