Regularly scheduled programming: ‘The sidekick is the lead’ on ‘Euphoria’

An illustration of the character Lexi from Euphoria sitting in a theater. She is turned behind her and is staring intensely.
(Bella Pettengill • The Student Life)

This article contains spoilers for “Euphoria.”

When HBO’s “Euphoria” premiered in June 2019, it dominated the cultural conversation for the rest of the summer. The impact was long-lasting: Trends inspired by “Euphoria” were still popular up to two years after the first season came out, and the currently airing second season was anxiously anticipated. In the almost three year period between seasons one and two, fans of the show talked at length about the main characters, notably Cassie, Rue, Jules, Nate, Kat and Maddy, both about what happened last season, and predictions for season two. 

When I first watched “Euphoria,” I found these characters interesting. I disliked (and still dislike) many of them, but as the main characters, it was hard to ignore their plot lines. But I always found that the character I related to the most was the more overlooked Lexi Howard. So far in season two, as a Lexi fan, I finally feel that her time has come. Lexi’s character arc this far into the season shows that she is one of the most compelling characters in the show. 

Lexi (Maude Apatow) is introduced in the first season as Rue Bennett’s (Zendaya) childhood friend and the younger sister of Cassie Howard (Sydney Sweeney). Compared to Cassie’s bold personality, Lexi is almost the complete opposite. She is bookish, quiet and mainly keeps to herself. Her hair and makeup looks, as well as her wardrobe, are more understated and less noticeable. When it was popular to do “Euphoria” season one inspired makeup looks on TikTok, it was pretty rare to see someone trying to emulate Lexi. 

For the most part, Lexi went pretty unnoticed in the first season — but not to me. I knew even from watching only about half of season one that she was one of the only characters I liked. One of the only things I wanted to see from a new season was an expansion of Lexi’s storyline, or, at least, any storyline at all. I was pleasantly and happily surprised when in the first episode, the seeds of an interesting and exciting Lexi plotline were planted, when she sits next to Fezco (Angus Cloud) at the New Year’s Party. 

In episode two Lexi has discovered a newfound confidence within herself. She puts on a new outfit, blasts hyperpop and bikes over to Fezco’s convenience store. Lexi has decided that she is done remaining quiet and being known just as Cassie’s younger sister. Her confidence comes from inside her, and although she is doing it partly to impress Fez, she is doing it mainly for herself. She doesn’t have a cliche makeover montage, where she takes off a pair of glasses and now suddenly everyone notices her. Fez sees her at the party in her own style, and their conversation centers on her. 

When I was in high school, I was definitely like Lexi. Even now, three years out from high school, I still deeply identify with her. Rue’s narration in the third episode of season two described Lexi as an “observer.” She is seen as taking a backseat to the more interesting plot points of the characters around her, choosing to handle her own problems on her own. The episode also showed how she actually deals with her life, which is by imagining her life as a scripted TV show that she is writing, with her friends and family cast as the other characters. As she says, “the sidekick is the lead.” She both believes that she is writing her own show, and is literally writing an autobiographical play to put on at school, with characters exactly like the people in her life. 

This season, Lexi is more of an asset to the plot. While in the last season she mainly operated with concerned looks as her close friend and sister did potentially destructive things, this season she has decided to use being an observer to her advantage and take charge of the narrative going on around her. Literally. The consequences of the autobiographical play she’s writing have yet to completely pan out, but the groundwork has clearly been laid for a blowout reveal before the finale. The drama of the season has definitely been building, with upcoming conflicts inevitable. But, it is incredibly compelling to think about the possibility that the most drama could come from what Lexi’s play reveals. Even though she has been continually overlooked and dismissed by the other characters, they are just underestimating her ability to observe. 

Lexi’s tendency to observe what’s going on around her mirrors how the audience is watching everything play out on their own screens. In a way, her character breaks the fourth wall by noticing the drama of the other characters and plot lines in the same way the audience dissects and breaks down each character and plot point. 

In the grand scheme of “Euphoria,” Lexi might not be one of the most interesting characters, but she’s my favorite because her tendency to observe reminds me of my own. Her confidence and desire to stand up for herself this season has come from inside herself, rather than for someone else. 

Claire DuMont SC ’23 is one of TSL’s TV columnists. She is hoping for more Fez and Lexi scenes in the rest of the season.

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