Zendaya is responding to claims that her hit show Euphoria may have a negative influence on teens.
The Emmy-winning actress spoke with Entertainment Weekly to break down Sunday night’s anxiety-inducing episode, “Stand Still Like a Humminbird” which finds her character Rue going through painful withdrawals and on the run after escaping her loved ones’ attempt at getting her back into rehab for her narcotics addiction.
“She’s in the midst of a degenerative disease and it’s taking control of her life,” Zendaya said. “And in many ways, she feels out of control. She doesn’t have the ability to control her emotions, her body.”
That lack of control found Rue lashing out violently and viscerally at those she loves most, in service to quelling the physical pain and mental anguish she was experiencing while in drug withdrawals.
“[Rue has] lost all control of who she is…and you can see there’s a little moment after that where all of it becomes regret. You can see her doing it and then immediately regretting it and wondering why she’s doing it. And then she does it again, like it’s just a really painful cycle to watch her go through,” she added. “And I didn’t particularly enjoy having to watch her deal with that.”
The viewing experience wasn’t particularly a walk in the park for the audience either, many of whom took to social media to express how stressful the episode was. It lends to wonder what program D.A.R.E. representatives were watching when they claimed that the show “misguidedly glorifies” narcotics consumption.
“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,” a representative for D.A.R.E. told TMZ in January.
“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, partially in response to the statement from D.A.R.E. “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.”
Showing the realities of what addiction has done not only to Rue, but to those she loves with an unflinching lens was necessary for authenticity, but still pretty harrowing for Zendaya and her costars.
“We don’t ever leave Rue and what she’s dealing with. We’re with her the whole time. There’s not much internal dialogue, and unlike the other episodes where there’s always an opening, ours just kind of starts immediately with violence,” she said. “After every take, we’re hugging each other, we’re talking through it, we’re embracing, checking in because obviously, it’s like a war zone.”