Zendaya as Rue in 'Euphoria'

Zendaya Clapped Back At D.A.R.E.'s Criticism Of Euphoria

"Our show is in no way a moral tale to teach people how to live their life."

by Ani Bundel
Eddy Chen/HBO

Euphoria has never pretended to be an easy show to watch. From its series premiere, it’s been up front about teenage drug use and what it looks like. Zendaya’s Emmy win for her portrayal of Rue was not a fluke — the work she’s doing to show people the reality of substance use disorder is stunning. But not everyone is so thrilled with HBO’s series or its target teenage audience, and recently, D.A.R.E. released a statement criticizing the show. However, Zendaya’s response to D.A.R.E.’s Euphoria criticism makes some valid points.

On Jan. 26, the famous anti-drug non-profit D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), released a public statement complaining about the show’s nature. Per TMZ, a representative for the program decried “the glamorization of substance use” in the series, saying Euphoria “chooses to misguidedly glorify and erroneously depict high school student drug use, addiction, anonymous sex, violence, and other destructive behaviors as common and widespread in today’s world.”

The statement continued: “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.”

But Zendaya, who is an executive producer on the series as well as the star, took issue with that characterization. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly after Episode 5 aired, she responded to the criticism. “Our show is in no way a moral tale to teach people how to live their life or what they should be doing,” she said. “If anything, the feeling behind Euphoria, or whatever we have always been trying to do with it, is to hopefully help people feel a little bit less alone in their experience and their pain. And maybe feel like they’re not the only one going through or dealing with what they’re dealing with.”

Moreover, she argued, the show is touching the people it’s trying to reach. “I’ve had a lot of people reach out and find so many parallels from all ages, all walks of life,” she told EW. “Rue means a lot to them in a way that I can understand, but also maybe in a way that I could never understand, and that means the most to all of us.”

Euphoria continues with new episodes every Sunday on HBO and streaming directly following on HBO Max.