Is Sydney Sweeney the Next Euphoria Star to Pull Off a Surprise Emmy Win?

Two years ago, Zendaya shocked the industry by becoming the youngest ever recipient of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for the first season of Euphoria, but it wasn’t just her age that made this win so shocking. For starters, her nomination for the show alone was a surprise, given that Euphoria received no other Primetime Emmy Award nods and only a handful of Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Award nods – this was not a show that was considered a “high priority” for voters. And furthermore, Zendaya was up against titans like Laura Linney (Ozark), Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show), and Olivia Colman (The Crown), all of whom not only came from bigger shows, but also seemed to have a “higher standing” in the industry on account of their age and experience.

But when voters actually took the time to sit down and watch Zendaya in Euphoria – and specifically in the episode she submitted, “Made You Look” – her talent was undeniable, and voting for her was an irresistible proposition. The buzz for her to win a second Emmy this year is just as big (partially because she’s still riding the high of her first surprise win, and partially because the episode she submitted this season, “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird,” is probably one of the greatest acting showcases an actor has ever been given) and even though she faces credible competition from the likes of Laura Linney (again) and Melanie Lynskey, she’s still very much the frontrunner. However, can her co-star Sydney Sweeney – a first-time nominee this year, with two nominations to her name – pull off the same trick she did for the first season by also winning over supposedly stronger and more “conventional” competition on the merits of her performance alone?

Sydney Sweeney in Euphoria Season 2

In many ways, Sydney Sweeney was the standout – and breakout – star of Euphoria Season 2. This is no knock against the still-astounding Zendaya, but after her performance in the first season, we’ve come to expect greatness from her in this role. Sweeney meanwhile, despite being a memorable presence last season, got much more to do in Season 2, from the first to final episode (and she benefitted immensely from seeing her star profile rise in the two and half years between the first and second seasons, thanks to supporting roles in films and shows like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and The White Lotus). This time around, Sweeney’s Cassie was the character that received the most attention and development aside from Zendaya’s Rue, as we followed her downward spiral after her breakup with her college boyfriend, which caused her to seek comfort in the charming but conniving Nate (played by Jacob Elordi).

Every episode seemed to bring a new meme centered around Cassie, from her bathroom breakdown in Episode 3, “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys,” to her drunk projectile vomiting at Maddy’s (Alexa Demie’s) birthday party in Episode 4, “You Who Cannot See, Think of Those Who Can,” and, of course, to her chaotic interruption of her sister Lexi’s (Maude Apatow’s) play in the season finale, “All My Life, My Heart Has Yearned for a Thing I Cannot Name” – which was followed by a brutal beatdown by Demie’s Maddy, which itself was shared ad nauseam on social media. For two months, you couldn’t log onto Twitter and not see a new gif or clip of Sweeney in Euphoria Season 2, and her performance and omnipresence in pop culture – paired with some savvy campaigning by Sweeney – nabbed her a nom in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category, where she now stands alongside the likes of Emmy winners Julia Garner and Patricia Arquette and Succession standout Sarah Snook.

Sydney Sweeney in Euphoria Season 2

However, after earning her nomination, the conversation didn’t stop there, as the topic then shifted to, “Can she actually win this thing?” In many ways, it feels like the nomination was the bigger hurdle. She had to prove that she was more than just a “Gen Z meme” and show that she was respected enough to be included along the likes of Garner, Arquette, and Snook, and well, she did just that. And not only did she receive a nomination here, but she also nabbed a nod over in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series category as well for The White Lotus, despite not ever being cited as a probable contender as much as co-stars Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton, and Alexandra Daddario, which illustrates that support for Sweeney runs deep in the Television Academy. And since Coolidge is still by far and away the frontrunner to win that award, will the love for Sweeney manifest for a win for her elsewhere?

Currently, Julia Garner remains the frontrunner to win Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and she’s certainly no slouch. For starters, she’s a two-time winner already (and, like Sweeney, a two-time nominee this year alone for Ozark and Inventing Anna), and she may have delivered her best performance yet as Ruth Langmore in the final season of Ozark, particularly in the episode she submitted, “Sanctified,” in which Ruth finds out that one of her last living family members is dead and announces her intention to set off in pursuit of vengeance against those responsible. It’s riveting and emotionally resonant stuff, and if you haven’t seen it (including her rage-fueled line reading of “If you wanna stop me, you’re gonna have to fucking kill me!”), you’re missing out. The aforementioned Sarah Snook and SAG winner Jung Ho-yeon are other strong contenders in this category – while we’re also happy to see Better Call Saul‘s Rhea Seehorn finally get on the board – but as of now, Garner is out ahead.

Sydney Sweeney in Euphoria Season 2

However, for as good as Garner is, Sweeney perhaps has the equally showiest performance in the category, and the one most equipped to go toe-to-toe with hers, thanks to the abundance of “big” scenes she’s given (and how she knocks them all out-of-the-park) and the strength of the episode she submitted, “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys,” which features her previously mentioned brilliant bathroom breakdown. Sweeney’s performance throughout the entirety of Euphoria Season 2 is full of “Emmy-worthy” moments, but even if voters only watch this episode, they’ll likely walk away heavily contemplating giving her the win, given that, in one hour, it highlights some of her best work not just from this season, but throughout the show overall (much as Zendaya’s submission for Season 1, “Made You Look” did). Additionally, there’s always the possibility that Emmy voters feel that Garner has already received enough recognition as Ruth Langmore with her first two Emmys, pushing them to anoint another.

There’s also Euphoria‘s strength across multiple categories at the Emmys to consider. This time around, following a meteoric ratings rise (despite somewhat less strong reviews), Euphoria received an Outstanding Drama Series nod and more than doubled its nominations at the Primetime Creative Arts Emmys Awards from last season, which included two guest acting nominations for Colman Domingo and Martha Kelly. It’s clear that this was the season where the Television Academy finally fully embraced Euphoria, and while many think that keeps Zendaya ahead in Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, it also strongly suggests that there might be enough love for it to nab another major win as well, perhaps for a standout supporting star whose own performance and profile already demonstrates that she’s got the goods to go the distance.

Written by
Though Zoë Rose Bryant has only worked in film criticism for a little under three years - turning a collegiate passion into a full-time career by writing for outlets such as Next Best Picture and Awards Watch - her captivation with cinema has been a lifelong fascination, appreciating film in all its varying forms, from horror movies to heartfelt romantic comedies and everything in between. Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, she made the move to Los Angeles in 2021 after graduating college and now spends her days keeping tabs on all things pop culture and attempting to attend every screening under the sun. As a trans critic, she also seeks to champion underrepresented voices in the LGBTQ+ community in film criticism and offer original insight on how gender and sexuality are explored in modern entertainment. You can find Zoë on Twitter, Instagram, and Letterboxd at @ZoeRoseBryant.

Your Vote

0 1

Lost Password

Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.