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Zendaya denies claims that ‘Euphoria’ glorifies drug use

The actress who plays struggling addict instead argues that 'Euphoria' promotes empathy for drug abuse

By Charlotte Krol

Close shot of Zendaya's face in a trailer for 'Euphoria' season two
Zendaya in HBO's 'Euphoria'. (Picture: YouTube/euphoria)

Zendaya has defended criticism levelled at ‘Euphoria’ that it glorifies substance abuse.

Last month, Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) issued a statement about HBO’s hit teen drama saying that it “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”.

But Zendaya, who portrays protagonist addict Rue Bennett in the series, has denied that it glamorises drug-taking and instead aims to promote empathy about addiction.

She told Entertainment Weekly: “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.”

The ‘Spider-Man’ star was addressing episode five of series two in which Rue’s family and friends stage an intervention before she escapes home in search of drugs that will help stave off withdrawal.

“I think if we can still care about [Rue] after this then I hope that other people can extend that to non-fictional characters, to real people, or just be a little bit more understanding and empathetic over the experience of addiction and what it does to people, what it does to their families,” Zendaya added.

The actress and musician, who is also an executive producer on the show, previously warned fans that the TV series isn’t suitable for younger viewers.

“I know I’ve said this before, but I do want to reiterate to everyone that ‘Euphoria’ is for mature audiences,” she wrote on social media. “This season, maybe even more so than the last, is deeply emotional and deals with subject matter that can be triggering and difficult to watch.”

Zendaya added to EW that her “biggest hope” is that viewers “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.

“I’ve had a lot of people reach out and find so many parallels from all ages, all walks of life. 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 that means the most to all of us.”

Meanwhile, Labrinth has released two new tracks from the soundtrack to the second season of ‘Euphoria’ – listen here.

‘Euphoria’ airs Sunday nights on HBO and Monday nights on NOW and Sky Atlantic in the UK.