Kat’s evolution challenged her friendships, as well: she shall go down in history as one of the first people steel-willed enough to stand up to Maddy. When Maddy calls Kat’s “new personality” unlikeable at a hard-hitting roundtable discussion about Cassie cheating on McKay (Algee Smith), Kat bites back: “Why? Because I won’t sit and listen to you bitch and moan about your psychotic abusive boyfriend who you’ve literally broken up with a thousand times?” Kat was more than a best-friend-of-the-popular girl, and she knew it. Then, tragically, season two relegated her to the margins.
Euphoria’s showrunner Sam Levinson introduced Kat’s backstory—a tween who binges virgin piña coladas on vacation and is dumped by her first love over her weight gain—early on, priming her for a meaty, central role. But just as Kat’s story was getting good, it was sidelined. Her season two screentime was scarce and, at times, confounding. She questions why she doesn’t love the adoring, functional Ethan—but the depth of her internal struggle is barely explored. There was a classically Kat fantasy sequence in which visions of bikini-clad models visit her in her bedroom, commanding her to “Love yourself!” Euphoria scratches the surface in her reply: “But that’s what I’m trying to tell you. I fucking hate myself,” then fails to go deeper. Ten points for the HBO metaverse for thrusting Jason Momoa as Game of Thrones warrior Dothraki into said fantasy—he gores Ethan to death and sweeps Kat off her feet. It’s absurdist and shocking but not nearly enough.
The same could be said for the now-infamous diner scene in which Kat dumps Ethan, citing a (fake) terminal brain disorder. Sure, Kat is emotionally aloof and teenagers, historically, don’t know how to humanely sever ties, but Kat isn’t this flatly one-dimensional. Jules’s eye makeup on any given night was more thoughtfully considered than this breakup. I couldn’t help but feel disheartened, too, that the show’s lone fat character—in a sea of Barbie and Ken bodies—happened to get short shrift, while endless attention was devoted to Sweeney’s prototypically perfect Cassie.
The Katlessness of season two drew considerable online suspicion. Rumors circulated that Ferreira fell out with Levinson over the direction the character was heading in, which led to her role being slashed. (The Ethan breakup scene only fueled the speculation; was Ferreira, like fans, disappointed with Kat’s scant presence?) Ferreira’s absence from the season two premiere in January was noticed, and read into. Ferreira commented on “Kat’s journey” (or lack thereof) in an interview with The Cut, saying it’s “a little more internal and a little mysterious to the audience. She is secretly going through a lot of existential crises.” I can only hope that in season three, we’ll know what they are.