SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not seen Episode 7 of “Euphoria” Season 2.
Lexi Howard, indisputably one of the most underrated and underutilized characters in Sam Levinson’s glitter-and-grit-infused teenage fever dream “Euphoria,” has finally been given more purpose than being the preppy-in-plaid sidekick to her sister Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) and best friend(ish) Rue (Zendaya) in Season 2. Fans of Lexi, portrayed by Maude Apatow, have gotten to see the character not only open up a potential romantic relationship with other fan-favorite Fezco (Angus Cloud) but also work on her high school theater magnum opus, a play about always being the ancillary character and never in the spotlight — not even in your own life.
In Episode 7 of the show’s second season, entitled “The Theater and Its Double,” viewers are given a glimpse into Lexi’s complex relationship with the young women around her, her father, her mother and herself. Meanwhile, the problems that Cassie and Rue contend with are given significantly more attention through a meta-theatrical production that Apatow told Variety was fun, but challenging to film — a difficulty that is evident when watching the intricate episode.
Lexi’s theatrical debut ends with a high note — literally — as Austin Abrams, who plays Kat’s boyfriend Ethan in the show, gyrates his hips in golden spandex with hordes of high school boys clad in what can only be described as “football, but make it sexy” costumes, dancing around him to the tune of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” and striking suggestive “workout” poses. The choreography, orchestrated by Ryan Heffington, flings an over-the-top middle finger to Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi)— and Abrams had a blast filming it.
“We filmed that over a three-day span, and it was a lot of work. It took a lot of physical exertion. I was doing that dance a million times over those days. But, I loved the dance, I loved the guys that I was dancing with and it felt very real,” Abrams told Variety during a press junket in January. “I loved the energy exchanged between the performers and the actors and the audience because there was a crowd there.”
Abrams has fond memories of the Tyler pop anthem. His earliest memory of the song was hearing it for the first time in “Shrek 2” as a kid. “It’s one of those songs that makes me so happy. It puts everyone in a great mood, honestly.”
The storyline with the play, per Apatow, was a “semi-collaboration” with Levinson, who is famously known for being the sole arbiter of writing decisions for “Euphoria.”
“It was loosely inspired by my high school play that I produced. Everyone in the theater department hated me, but I really wanted to do a good job,” Apatow said. When trying to explain the logic of why a more introverted, neurotic and shy character like Lexi would put her entire family and friends on blast in front of a packed auditorium, Apatow thinks that her character felt that the production was the only thing she felt she had control over as something that made her life feel purposeful. Finally, Lexi wasn’t in the sidelines— she was center stage.
Apatow hadn’t done theater since high school. Though it was grueling work to film each and every sequence, she was excited to act with Abrams and the other “cast-mates” in the play.
“It took a long time to film that sequence because it was so complicated,” Apatow said. “There were a lot of audience shots to consider… Sam had to make sure that the shots in the play connected to real memories and they had to be perfectly timed and interwoven.”
When Variety had spoken to Apatow, the actor had not seen the final or full product yet of her “it girl” episode, but she hopes that they were able to pull it off. “We felt really good about it in the moment,” Apatow said.