"Our show is in no way a moral tale to teach people how to live their life..."
Emmy-winning star Zendaya has responded to 'Euphoria' being depicted as "destructive" and displaying "other high-risk behaviour" of US teens on television.
HBO's 'Euphoria', which features Zendaya in the lead role of Rue, follows a group of high school teenagers, their relationships at home and in school, drug and alcohol use, and also some pretty dark and dramatic moments. Rue, in particular, battles with demons as she tries to get over her drug misuse. It's not for the faint-hearted, nor should it be seen by a young audience, but the storylines, impressive cast, and overall atmosphere of the series created by Sam Levinson has turned it into a runaway success.
The second season of the drama began in January, and during that month an anti-drug campaign known as D.A.R.E. labelled the show as glorifying teen drug abuse. A representative for the campaign told TMZ: "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 behaviours as common and widespread in today’s world."
Zendaya, who is also an executive producer on the series, told Entertainment Weekly that the portrayal of teens using drugs deserves to be shown on television because it's the reality we live in. She said: "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 latest episode of the series, entitled 'Stand Still Like The Hummingbird', saw Rue's mother Leslie (Nika King) attempt to stage an intervention after Jules (Hunter Schafer) tells her that her daughter has relapsed.
Commenting on the latest development of the series, Zendaya said: "I think if we can still care about her 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."
She added that shooting this episode's scenes were "very tough" and that she still has scars from the chase that unfolded "and got quite a few bruises".
Levinson created the series from his own personal experiences as a teen, which can be seen in the creation of Rue. Speaking with Variety at the season one premiere in 2019, he said: "I spent the majority of my teenage years in and out of hospitals, rehabs and halfway houses. I was a drug addict, and I’d take anything and everything until I couldn’t hear or breathe or feel."
'Euphoria' is available to watch via Sky TV and NOW.