MCU star Zendaya has responded after D.A.R.E — which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education — criticised hit TV series Euphoria for its portrayal of drug use. In a statement to TMZ, a representative for the drug education program said that Euphoria “chooses to misguidedly glorify and erroneously depict high school student drug use, addiction, anonymous sex, violence, and other destructive behaviours as common and widespread in today’s world.”
Euphoria, which airs Sunday nights on HBO in the US, centres on a group of high school students as they navigate love, sex, drugs, and other issues. Zendaya, who is also an executive producer of the show, leads the ensemble cast as Rue — a recovering drug addict who has just left rehab at the start of the show’s first season in 2019. Rue’s struggle with her drug addiction is one of the show’s focal, ongoing storylines.
While Euphoria has been widely praised for its no-bars approach towards difficult topics like addiction, D.A.R.E told TMZ, “It is unfortunate that HBO, social media, television program reviewers, and paid advertising have chosen to refer to the show as ‘groundbreaking,’ rather than recognising the potential negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges.”
When asked about these criticisms by Entertainment Weekly, Zendaya defended Euphoria’s portrayal of drug use, saying that the show actually helps people who experience addiction. “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.”
“I’ve had a lot of people reach out and find so many parallels from all ages, all walks of life,” the Dune star added. “So many parallels with Rue and her story, and 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.”
Zendaya also told Entertainment Weekly that her “biggest hope” with Euphoria is that “people are able to connect to it and those who need to heal and grow with Rue hopefully, by the end of this season, feel that hope and feel that change in her.”