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Zendaya has insisted ‘Euphoria’ isn’t a “moral tale”.
The 25-year-old actress has spoken out to defend her show after anti-drug education group D.A.R.E. slammed the programme for “glorifying” substance abuse and “misguidedly and erroneously” depicting high school drug use.
Zendaya insisted the show has set out to reassure viewers they are not “alone” in their struggles, but it’s never encouraged the audience to live their lives in a particular way.
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.”
Season 2 of the HBO series culminates in an intervention for Zendaya’s character Rue, which the actress called the “light at the end of the tunnel” and she hopes her alter ego’s experiences allow viewers to gain “a little bit more understanding and [be] empathetic over the experience of addiction.”
She added: “My biggest hope 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.”
While working on the show, Zendaya has heard from a lot of viewers who see “parallels” from their own lives and she admitted their messages mean a lot to her.
She said: “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 the most to all of us.”
D.A.R.E. have accused the programme of normalising teen drug abuse.
They said in a statement last month: “Rather than further each parent’s desire to keep their children safe from the potentially horrific consequences of drug abuse and other high-risk behaviour, HBO’s television drama, ‘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
“It is unfortunate that HBO, social media, television programme 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.”