There’s a Euphoria feud currently happening between Zendaya, Euphoria executive producer and star, and the anti-drug education program, Drug Abuse Resistance Education, better known as D.A.R.E.. It all has to do with D.A.R.E.’s perception of the show, which is that it’s going to encourage teens to run head-first into a sexy, cool, alluring world of chronic drug use and spiraling addiction. Zendaya has something to say about that, and she would like everyone to know that getting kids hooked for life on the bad stuff isn’t Euphoria’s mission statement.
Euphoria is currently in its second season on HBO, and in case you don’t know, it’s narrated by Zendaya’s character Rue, a teen with mental illness issues and drug addiction. There’s drug use, booze use, sex, swearing, parties, hidden secrets, scandal. You know, just all the stuff I heard was happening in high school while I was hanging out in the library at lunch reading chapters from Mommie Dearest. Rue’s story arc centers around her relationship with drugs and sobriety. There are plenty of scenes in Euphoria of Rue high out of her skull, and D.A.R.E. thinks that’s kind of irresponsible. Because I guess D.A.R.E. thinks those poor impressionable kids will confuse an episode of Euphoria with Disney Channel re-runs of Shake It Up or K.C. Undercover? A few weeks ago, D.A.R.E. released this statement on the matter. via 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 behavior, 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 program reviewers, and paid advertising have chosen to refer to the show as ‘groundbreaking,’ rather than recognizing the potential negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges. We would welcome the opportunity for our team, including members of our high school-aged Youth Advocacy Board, to meet with individuals at HBO who are involved with producing Euphoria to present our concerns directly.”
That’s where Zendaya comes in. She recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly regarding her character’s journey in the second season, which has Rue in the worst of places, addiction-wise. Zendaya says that if anything, Euphoria gives a voice to any teens or young people who are struggling with addiction themselves. via EW:
“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.
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.”
This isn’t the first time Zendaya has had to stress that this show isn’t for the children (at least the children who should probably be in bed by the time Euphoria comes on Sunday night). Prior to the season 2 premiere, she issued this warning that the show is “deeply emotional,” and that some scenes might be tough to watch.
If D.A.R.E. believes that parents really want to keep their kids safe from the HBO-sanctioned dramatized realities of high school drug addiction, then maybe they could order the DVDs of all seven seasons of Sabrina the Teenage Witch from Amazon or something? Euphoria might not be their thing! But I have to disagree with their assessment that Euphoria makes drug use and addiction seem glamorous. Every time Rue appears on screen after having done any drugs, from weed to coke to pills, she almost always looks like a sweaty, greasy, messy exhausted ball of hair and statement jackets. Rue is the ultimate D.A.R.E. poster. “See this kid? She hasn’t even gotten to the stage in her drug high where she’s yelling at her sister and trying to fight her mom. This is only two seconds after her first bump!”