Where Was McKay In Season 2?

Summary

  • McKay’s character was noticeably absent in Euphoria Season 2, leaving fans questioning why his role was reduced.
  • McKay’s storyline in Season 1 was centered around his identity crisis and the trauma he experienced due to a hazing ritual, as well as his rocky relationship with Cassie.
  • Actor Algee Smith is unsure about McKay’s future in the show, and it remains uncertain if he will return in Season 3.


Even amid the tumultuous events of Euphoria Season 2, it’s difficult not to notice that a prominent character from Season 1 was virtually absent. Football star Chris McKay (played by Algee Smith) had been a leading man in HBO’s teen drama. But he was hardly featured in the second season, leaving fans to wonder why his role was reduced so drastically.

McKay was introduced in Euphoria‘s 2019 series premiere as the boyfriend of Cassie Howard. Although he’d already graduated from East Highland, the school where Euphoria takes place, McKay still regularly hung out with his high school friends. And despite being one of the nicer guys in the series, McKay was best friends with the twisted Nate Jacobs. McKay’s life took a sharp turn in the first season that changed everything.

Updated on January 12, 2024 by Katie Doll: The mystery of McKay will likely be one that remains up in the air. While McKay and Cassie had a dramatic turn in their relationship at the end of Season 1, he only had a guest role in Season 2. This article has been updated to expand on Algee Smith’s work outside Euphoria, and if he could potentially return in Season 3.


What Happened To McKay In Euphoria Season 1?

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McKay’s father trained him to become a great football player from a young age. That’s likely why he became the star of his high school team. However, there’s no denying the pressure negatively affected him. His entire identity was built on how well he performed and his star-player status. But McKay was no longer in high school — and his college teammates were better. He soon realized he had little chance of making it to the pro level, which pushed McKay into an identity crisis.

On top of that, McKay and Cassie’s (played by Madame Web‘s Sydney Sweeney) once-loving relationship was becoming rocky, due in part to their differing stages in life. McKay was uncomfortable with the way other guys objectified and sexualized Cassie, and he wrongfully blamed her for it. But what pushed their relationship over the edge was the night McKay gets assaulted by a group of fraternity brothers while having sex with Cassie. In what appeared to be a hazing ritual, they threw McKay to the floor, beat him, and called him names as Cassie screamed at them to stop. When they left, McKay sobbed in the bathroom, then shoved down his feelings, telling Cassie it was no big deal. They had passionless sex — but both parties were traumatized, and their relationship was never the same.

After feeling distant from and cast aside by McKay, Cassie started seeing her classmate Daniel on the side. However, Daniel harshly ended things with her after Cassie told him she didn’t want to have sex. Later on, Cassie learned she was pregnant with McKay’s child. He reacted negatively, telling her she couldn’t keep the baby. Cassie went through with an abortion… and that’s where Euphoria Season 1 left McKay.

Why Did McKay Disappear From Euphoria Season 2?

Euphoria's shirtless Chris McKay looks at himself in the bathroom mirror

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Although Euphoria Season 1 set up McKay for a seamless continuation of his storyline, he was almost nowhere to be found in Season 2, save for two brief scenes. In the season premiere, he showed up at the New Year’s Eve party, where he asked Cassie if their relationship could be mended. She told him it couldn’t. After that, he talked to his buddy Nate — who grossly asked McKay explicit questions about his sex life with Cassie. McKay was then seen again in the second episode, “Out of Touch,” when he helped to take a bloody Nate to the hospital following Nate’s vicious beating by Fezco. But that was it for McKay in the second season.

Fans were left to wonder why McKay had such an anti-climactic end to his storyline in Euphoria‘s contentious Season 2, and actor Algee Smith didn’t really know, either. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Smith said, “I think that’s a question we have to ask our creator [Sam Levinson], where he sees it going. We haven’t even gotten that far in the conversation, him and myself, on this, actually.”

Season 3 is still some time away — so far fans have joked that most of the actors will be well in their 30s and still portraying high school students. But McKay was one of the few younger cast members who weren’t even in high school. He was already a college student in Season 1. Even if Season 3 chooses to do a time jump, ditching the high school setting altogether, McKay doesn’t have a place among the cast. He’s likely moved on from the high school drama and glory by now, as most people do when they set off on new adventures in college and beyond.

But McKay won’t be the only character who’s been left behind in Season 3. In a mutual decision with showrunner Sam Levinson, Barbie Ferreira won’t be returning to the series in Season 3. The actor said that the decision was made based on the fact that there “wasn’t a place for Kat to go.” Ashtray obviously won’t be returning since his character was killed in the Season 2 finale, and unfortunately, Fez’s actor Angus Cloud passed away in 2023.

The False Claims Surrounding McKay’s Absence From Euphoria

Euphoria Season 1: McKay (Algee Smith) leans on a kitchen counter

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There was brief speculation online that McKay was written off Euphoria because Smith was unvaccinated, but that was debunked by HBO. In the same Daily Beast article, a network representative clarified, “McKay’s storyline was written before the COVID-19 pandemic. To suggest otherwise would be incorrect.” Smith also said he complied with the other COVID protocols while on set and his unvaccinated status wasn’t brought up during filming.

It’s certainly puzzling that McKay’s character wasn’t expanded upon in Season 2. What does he base his identity on now that he’s not a high school football star? How does he deal with the trauma from the abuse he endured in the assault? How does he move on after his breakup with Cassie? Unless Levinson decides to bring McKay back in Euphoria Season 3, these questions may never be answered.

Algee Smith Has Been Busy Outside Euphoria

Algee Smith as Larry Reed in Detroit

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Amid many cast departures on Euphoria, the cast is looking slim for Season 3. Even if Smith doesn’t return to continue McKay’s story, he’s doing great for himself outside of the teen drama. Since starring in the first season, Smith has starred in two drama films: Young. Wild. Free. and Shooting Stars. The latter is a biographical sports picture about LeBron James’ high school career, which also stars Stranger Things‘ actor Caleb McLaughlin.

Algee Smith Selected Filmography:

  • Detroit (2017)
  • The New Edition Story (2017)
  • The Hate U Give (2018)
  • Euphoria (2019-2022)
  • Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)
  • Mother/Android (2021)
  • Young. Wild. Free (2023)
  • Shooting Stars (2023)

Before Euphoria, Smith had roles in a few acclaimed films, like Detriot, The Hate U Give, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Mother/Android. So even if McKay’s time on Euphoria has long passed, Smith is well on his way to becoming a leading man in the future of film.

Euphoria Season 3 is expected to air in 2025. The first two seasons are available to stream on Max.

Euphoria

Euphoria

A look at life for a group of high school students as they grapple with issues of drugs, sex, and violence.

Release Date
June 16, 2019

Creator
Sam Levinson

Cast
Zendaya , Angus Cloud , Maude Apatow , Sydney Sweeney , Jacob Elordi

Rating
TV-MA

Seasons
3

Number of Episodes
18

Network
HBO Max

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