Euphoria's Zendaya Responds To D.A.R.E.'s Criticism About HBO Drama's Depiction Of Drug Use

Zendaya in Euphoria.
(Image credit: HBO)

Spoilers ahead for Season 2, Episode 5 of Euphoria, “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird.” 

HBO’s Euphoria is known for getting pretty graphic when it comes to depicting high school students and the mature situations they get into. Plenty of characters, especially Zendaya’s Rue, manage to get their hands on drugs here and there. Not too long ago, the D.A.R.E. program spoke out about the show and its depiction of teenage drug use and, now, the Emmy-winning lead actress is speaking out on the criticisms. 

The latest episode of the acclaimed drama included Rue Bennett's long-awaited breakdown. After those closest to her learned that she had relapsed, Rue ran, isolating herself from the people who wanted to help her. While she admitted to needing help, she refused any. Since the episode's airing, many have praised Zendaya’s acting in it, with some even predicting that it'll be an Emmy-winning performance.

The episode depicted an addict’s breakdown and retaliation, something that Zendaya spoke about with EW. Additionally, she responded to D.A.R.E.’s criticism, which accused the HBO series of “glorifying” drug use. In response, the star discussed what she believes to be the show's true intentions:   

Our show is in no way a moral tale to teach people how to live their life or what they should be doing. 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.

In the past, Zendaya has made it a point to tell her fans that Euphoria is not a show for everyone, especially since she has a lot of young fans. And the latest episode is definitely a clear example of the former fact. In addition to the actress, the show itself tries to get that same point across, as the episodes include disclaimers for potential viewers. Aside from drug use, the show also features realistic scenes that involve nudity.

Despite backlash from some groups, in just a few years, the show has managed to make a significant impact on pop culture. One can look no further than the Internet to see evidence of this, as social media is typically filled with live tweets during premiere nights. It's because of this popularity that HBO recently renewed the series for a third season. So it seems there will be more storylines coming down the road, and one could even involve Spider-Man star Tom Holland.

With a few episodes left in the second season, viewers will likely see the fallout of Rue’s breakdown. The final shot in the latest episode teased a door opening to the Bennett household, before quickly cutting to black. It's hard to say what's being planned for Zendaya's Rue and the rest of the characters before season's end. But based on her recent comments, it seems clear that the actress and her colleagues intend to maintain their style of storytelling.

Euphoria airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on HBO, and those with an HBO Max subscription can stream the series as well.

Megan Behnke
Freelance TV News Writer

Passionate writer. Obsessed with anything and everything entertainment, specifically movies and television. Can get easily attached to fictional characters.