Euphoria’s McKay has had a tumultuous time from the changes of the actor, to his surprising absence from season two with no suggestion of his return.
Euphoria is the hit HBO Max teen-drama series that returned for its highly anticipated second season in January 2022. The return was three years in the making, after the first season premiered on HBO Max in 2019.
The second season arguably focussed more on cast members that did not have prominent roles in the first season. This was evident through the absence of one character in particular, Chris McKay, played by Algee Smith.
An integral character in season one, McKay all but disappeared from season two with no word shared about why, just speculation. This matter has caused many to wonder whether he will return for season three.
Why is Euphoria R-rated?
Despite the fact that Euphoria is touted as a teen-drama that deals with themes of drug abuse, teenage sex, and mental health, the series is not quite suitable for a young and impressionable audience. This is because of how explicit and graphic it is, which could be misconstrued as glorifying and romanticising real-life issues.
So much so that the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) highlighted their concerns with a boycott against the series, sharing in part: “It is unfortunate that HBO, social media, television program reviewers, and paid advertising have chosen to refer to the show as ‘groundbreaking’ rather than recognizing the potential negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges.”
Euphoria: McKay’s undetermined future on the show
The character of Chris McKay has been plagued with drama since the beginning of the series. Algee Smith, who played the character, was not initially meant to play the role. Instead, X-Factor alumni and rapper, Brian “Astro” Bradley was originally cast to play the role, but that changed when his character’s storyline changed during production.
Allegedly, Astro was uncomfortable with the direction that the character was taking, as his character’s storyline played on themes of homosexuality. This was allegedly not included in the pilot script that Astro had agreed upon when joining the show.
Following back-and-forth discussions on the matter, it seemed that the parties involved could not reach an agreement, and the role subsequently went to Smith.
McKay, who was not a high school student, but a freshman in college, had a prominent role in the first season as Nate’s best friend and Cassie’s boyfriend. He also had his own storyline, as he dealt with being sexually assaulted by his college fraternity.
In light of his character’s impact, when news of the possibility of a Euphoria season two was shared in 2019, Smith stated, “I’m just ready to come back there now that I’m seeing the storyline, we can see an audience and watch it as a viewer. I know exactly how I want to come back and sharpen myself next time, so I’m really excited.”
COVID-19 disrupts Euphoria season two production
The pandemic hit the world hard in 2020 and halted all production in Hollywood, which caused a delay in the release of Euphoria season two. The delay had long far-reaching implications for the show, as it was alleged that creator, Sam Levinson, wrote a whole new season two of for the series during this time.
This meant that actors like Barbie Ferreira’s character, Kat, appeared less in the season following as a result of allegations that she walked off set after a disagreement with Levison over her storyline.
These changes seemingly also affected Algee Smith’s character as he all but disappeared in season two.
Algee Smith on Euphoria season two
Before production started for Euphoria season two, Algee Smith was quoted as saying, “I can’t wait for Euphoria season two!! I’m excited to get back on set and to be with the Euphoria family again. As far as what we can all expect from Chris Mckay… I can’t tell you… We actually haven’t started creating the second season just yet.”
But the actor spoke too soon, as McKay only appeared in the first episode of season two, when he broke up the fight between Nate and Fez. He returned later in the episode to officially break up with Cassie. This was the last we saw of the character.
Why is Chris McKay not in Euphoria season two?
No official word has been shared about the reason that Chris McKay was not included in the second season of Euphoria. But it was speculated that it was because there was no common factor or connection between him as a college student and the main high school cast of characters.
As such, there was no way that he could be integrated into the season seamlessly, especially in light of Nate and Cassie’s joint storyline, which cancelled relations that McKay previously had with other main characters in the story.