Earlier this year, the much-anticipated second season of Euphoria finally hit our screens after being severely delayed due to COVID-19.
Three years after the huge success of Season 1, Rue and co. were back at last, but the holdup meant that the storylines were drastically different from what they would have been.
It’s no secret that the show creator, Sam Levinson, almost entirely rewrote the second season between the time it was supposed to start shooting and when it actually did.
In fact, Zendaya went so far as to say that the “majority of the originally planned season was scrapped,” adding to the Cut: “There are very few things that remain in the version that you are now seeing.”
But in her opinion the rewrites were a good thing, with the star commenting: “The things that didn’t make it definitely needed to die.”
Although fans will never get to see the originally planned season play out onscreen, the stars of Euphoria have offered us drips of information about what would have happened.
Here is everything that has been said about the scrapped storylines so far, and one thing is for sure: There was a whole lot more nudity.
Perhaps one of the biggest scandals surrounding Season 2 is speculation that Kat’s screentime had been massively reduced after actor Barbie Ferreira allegedly had a huge fight with Sam.
Unconfirmed reports said that Barbie ended up walking off set mid-shoot due to the heated altercation, which led to Sam dramatically cutting her lines.
According to anonymous sources, Sam was pushing for Kat to battle an eating disorder in the season, something that body positive activist Barbie wasn’t comfortable with.
While none of this has been confirmed, viewers have noticed that Kat barely features this season, and her bizarre breakup with Ethan in this week’s episode fueled speculation that she and Sam were on bad terms.
In the scene, which marked the most screentime she’s had all season, Kat seemingly lied about having a terminal brain disorder to get out of her relationship and accused Ethan of “gaslighting” her when he suggested that she was lying.
The whole thing felt out of character for Kat, and fans believed that the seemingly redundant storyline was indicative that reports of a real-life feud were very much true.
“Barbie and Sam Levinson need to make up NOW bc what is going on with Kat rn,” one fan tweeted. Another added: “Barbie and Sam L*vinsen must’ve had a crazy fight for that break up scene to be that nonsensical. #Euphoria”.
While Barbie hasn’t publicly commented on the feud rumors, she did admit that Kat’s journey is more “internal” and “mysterious” this season, acknowledging that she isn’t getting as much attention as expected.
“Kat’s journey this season is a little more internal and a little mysterious to the audience. She is secretly going through a lot of existential crises,” the actor told the Cut. “She loses her marbles a little bit — just like everyone else in this season. The theme is everyone’s gone a little crazy.”
But if Kat and Ethan’s breakup was “a little crazy,” then Nate and Maddy’s Episode 6 altercation was completely out of control, with Nate holding a gun to both his and Maddy’s heads in a terrifying game of Russian roulette.
Nate was trying to scare Maddy into giving back a video of his dad, Cal, having sex with Jules, and the jaw-dropping scene ended with Maddy sobbing helplessly in bed after telling him where to find the disc.
Actor Alexa Demie has now revealed that the gun was just one of “many different ways” she and Sam saw the disc being handled, and originally it was much less dramatic.
“There was a moment where I was gonna give the tape to Jules with a letter saying, 'I think you'd want this,' and not say who was giving it to her, but give it back to her, which felt really nice for me,” Alexa told Entertainment Weekly.
“And there was a part of me that really wanted to see that happen,” she added. “But I think the way it goes down keeps the story going, and it's drama.”
And while she acknowledged that Maddy may have wanted to keep the disc due to Nate’s affair with her best friend Cassie, Alexa insisted that she’d actually have had Jules’ best interests at heart.
“She knew it was Jules, which is part of why she was wanting to hold on to it. Part of it was collateral for Nate, because he's just fucked her over so many times, but I think a big part of her really did want to give it to Jules, or not see Jules hurt in any way,” she explained.
But someone who couldn’t care less about causing hurt is drug dealer and sex trafficker Laurie, who featured heavily in the very disturbing fifth episode of Season 2.
Fans watched in horror as Laurie suggested that she would traffic Rue to “sick people” if she couldn’t repay her debts after being given a suitcase full of drugs to sell.
When Rue, battling the depths of withdrawal and on the run from her friends, family, and police, showed up at her door desperate for a fix, Laurie calmly gave her a bath and injected her with morphine.
As if that wasn’t unsettling enough, the actor who plays the villain, Martha Kelly, recently revealed that the scene originally had a “gross pedophilia vibe” that she was uncomfortable to shoot.
While she didn’t divulge exact details, Martha told Variety: “There is that scene where Rue is getting into the tub, and Laurie injects her with morphine — and in the script, it is even creepier, because Laurie is helping her undress and get in the tub, and it is approaching this gross pedophilia vibe.”
“Initially, I was just like, ‘I can’t do this,’” she added. But despite her “discomfort,” she opted against asking Sam to change the scene because she just felt “lucky” to have been cast in the show.
“I would never tell a writer or a director if they could change something for me,” Martha explained. "If I accept a part it’s because I want to do it, and I like the people I am working with, so I do not want to intrude with my own self-centered discomfort.”
However, Martha’s concerns were for nothing, as Sam had a change of heart over the scene during the pandemic and decided to make it more implicit.
Martha said: “I was happy when Sam told me we were going to shoot the bathroom scene slightly out of focus, and that some stuff was altered because of that pause we took in filming due to the pandemic.”
Opting to make things less graphic appears to have been a common theme in the filming of Season 2, with other actors coming forward to share their experiences of asking Sam to reduce their amount of onscreen nudity.
In addition to Laurie, this season also introduced us to Samantha, a rich suburban mom who Maddy babysits for, who was brought in to represent an “older, wiser version of Maddy.”
Minka Kelly, who plays the character, said in a new interview that Samantha was originally only going to appear in one episode, but Sam liked her dynamic with Alexa so much he fleshed out the role.
Proving just how rapidly scenes would change, she told Vanity Fair that Sam gave her and Alexa a brand-new script for the pool scene in Episode 6 on the morning of their shoot.
Although Minka did not reveal what the original pool script entailed, she did say that Maddy unzipping Samantha’s gown in her first appearance was initially much more sexual.
While the scene does still have uncomfortably sensual undertones, Minka actually talked Sam out of her character’s dress falling from her body.
“[He] thought it would be more interesting if my dress fell to the ground,” Minka explained. “That was my first day as a guest on this new show, and I just didn’t feel comfortable standing there naked.”
“I said, ‘I’d love to do this scene, but I think we can keep my dress on,’” the star added. “He was like, ‘OK!’ He didn’t even hesitate. And he shot a beautiful scene and got exactly what he wanted.”
In an interview with the Independent, she said: "There are moments where Cassie was supposed to be shirtless and I would tell Sam, 'I don't really think that's necessary here.’ He was like, 'OK, we don't need it.'"
Sydney said that Sam was incredibly receptive to her feedback, explaining: “I've never felt like Sam has pushed it on me or was trying to get a nude scene into an HBO show. When I didn't want to do it, he didn't make me.”
And in addition to reducing how much Cassie appeared topless onscreen, Sydney also fleshed out the character’s more emotional moments in the season that were originally pretty lackluster.
For example, Cassie and Nate’s huge argument in Episode 4 initially ended when Nate lashed out at Cassie for sleeping with her best friend’s boyfriend.
“Jacob [Elordi, who plays Nate] and I did the scene as it was written, and we were like, ‘There is so much more here that we could do that’s pent up. Let us build it,’” Sydney told the Cut.
Sam ended up writing a dramatic five-page scene between the two characters on the spot that sees Cassie convince herself that Nate will leave her for Maddy before having a breakdown.
“I let any judgment of myself go,” Sydney recalled. “I’m very proud of the meltdown Cassie had this season.”
Jacob also acknowledged how frequently his storylines changed in an interview with Insider.
“Honestly, these scripts were chopping and changing pretty regularly for the longest time,” he said. “I had a general idea of what was happening, but it was also pretty touch and go a lot of the time, which was nice because it kept it spontaneous and you sort of just had to sit in the situation and play with what was in front of you.”
In fact, Zendaya said that Rue’s heart-wrenching intervention in Episode 5 is one of the only things that was kept from the original plan for the season, adding that it was always going to be “a really intense episode.”
While some specifics did shift over the years, the gist remained the same, with Zendaya telling Entertainment Weekly: “The general idea was always the same, which was this idea of, we cut right into an intervention and it's Rue just ripping her life apart and setting her life on fire and kind of tearing everything to the ground to basically come to hopefully what feels like rock bottom for her."
And while Rue reaching “rock bottom” still made it onto our screens, the aftermath of that episode was thankfully changed to something much less bleak.
Zendaya said that halfway through filming she and Sam decided that they had to give Rue a different path to add a sense of “hope” to the season finale.
“The ending of the season was going to be very different and then halfway through, Sam and I were like, ‘We just can’t leave Rue here. We gotta put some fucking hope in this show,’” she explained.
"Episode eight is where we’ll get that sense of redemption. That you aren’t the worst thing you’ve ever done in your life. I think Rue deserves it, and I think anyone who suffers with the same thing she does deserves it,” Zendaya added.
Although Season 2 has faced more than your average amount of rewrites, the first season of Euphoria also endured some huge changes.
In fact, in the original script for the pilot, Rue is said to have murdered Nate, with his body found in a cornfield.
That concept didn’t ever get off the ground, but the fate of fan-favorite Fezco came much closer to the wire, according to actor Angus Cloud.
Speaking to GQ last month, the star said that Sam originally planned to kill Fez off in the first season before changing his mind.
Angus was cast in the show after being spotted in the streets of New York, something that he believes to have been a huge hint about how long his character was going to stick around for.
"I don't know, but apparently, because they cast me off the street, I guess the character of Fezco was [never going to stay],” he said.
Asked how Fez would have died, Angus confessed that he had no idea and never actually saw a script for the scene. “No one ever told me,” he went on.
However, other cast members were in the know, and it was actually Jacob who filled him in.
Angus said: "It was one day when we were filming the pilot that I think Jacob told me, he was like, 'Oh yeah, you didn't know? Your character gets [imitates brains getting blown out].’”
And I think that we can all agree that ~this~ is the rewrite that we are most grateful for.