Zendaya responds to criticism that 'Euphoria' glorifies teen drug use

Zendaya is responding to criticism of her show Euphoria.

On the heels of D.A.R.E. condemning the show for glorifying teen drug use and addiction, the star told Entertainment Weekly that people shouldn't be modeling their lives after Rue's.

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

Last month, D.A.R.E. said the show — in which Rue struggles with addiction — glamorized drug use and addiction among real teens.

Zendaya stars as a teen addict in
Zendaya stars as a teen addict in Euphoria. (Photo: Eddy Chen/HBO)

"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," said a rep for the organization, which has long provided substance abuse prevention education.

The rep continued, "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."

Zendaya was speaking to EW about her character's intervention on Sunday night's show.

"We can't leave her here," she said of her character. "It's really important that there's light at the end of the tunnel for her, because I think she has a lot of beauty inside of her. Whether or not she quite sees that yet, is her own thing."

The star also shared her "biggest hope" for the character and it's "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."

Despite the criticism the show has faced, Zendaya feels Rue's story resonates.

"I've had a lot of people reach out and find so many parallels from all ages, all walks of life," she said. "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."

Zendaya, who has a massive fandom, including for her Spider-Man: No Way Home role of MJ, has used social media to warn young viewers that her storyline in Euphoria is intended for mature audiences and can be hard to watch.