Zendaya Speaks Out About The Euphoria DARE Controversy

While the long-awaited second season of HBO's "Euphoria" has not come without its own set of controversies, it appears that members of its cast have made it their mission to tackle it head-on. Lauded during its first season as a show unafraid to tackle heavy and complex topics like substance use disorder, sexuality, intimate partner violence, and body image among the teenage Gen Z set, its themes have also drawn an equal amount of criticism from groups like the Parents Television Council

In the middle of its sophomore season, it looks like the fervor over "Euphoria" on both sides isn't dying down. For the most recent example, one has to look no further than the latest kerfuffle kicked up by none other than D.A.R.E. America, the anti-drug education program founded in 1983 as an arm of the Reagan-era "War on Drugs." And as Buzzfeed reported on February 7, it looks like "Euphoria" star Zendaya isn't having any of it.

The controversy started after D.A.R.E. released a statement, per TMZ, in February condemning the show for its depiction of substance use disorder and other activities. Claiming that rather than "[furthering] each parent's desire to keep their children safe from the potentially horrific consequences of drug abuse," D.A.R.E. accused "Euphoria" of "[glorifying] and erroneously [depicting] high school student drug use, addiction, anonymous sex, violence, and other destructive behaviors as common and widespread in today's world." In response, Zendaya asserted D.A.R.E. missed "Euphoria"'s message entirely.

Zendaya blasted D.A.R.E. for missing the point of 'Euphoria'

After D.A.R.E. America went public with their statement condemning "Euphoria," Zendaya (pictured above with "Euphoria" castmates Barbie Ferreira and Sydney Sweeney) came forward with one of her own. In a February 6 interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actor implied D.A.R.E.'s opposition mistook the stylized nature of "Euphoria" with its message. "Our show is in no way a moral tale to teach people how to live their life or what they should be doing," Zendaya explained. "If anything ... [it] is to hopefully help people feel a little bit less alone in their experience and their pain." More importantly, she concluded, the show's purpose is to offer a lifeline: to help others, including teens, "feel like they're not the only one going through or dealing with what they're dealing with."

That D.A.R.E. has spoken out against "Euphoria" in the first place bears its own sense of irony. The program, which many have argued was born with racist intentions during the War on Drugs, per ACLU, has been largely considered a failure. As Vox reported in 2014, data over the years showed that D.A.R.E.'s mix of fear-mongering and misinformation actually appeared to normalize drug use for teens. Though the program was re-tooled in 2001, D.A.R.E.'s approach was still considered one rife with what we now know are falsehoods disproven by scientists and experts, per Scientific American, including that cannabis has no medicinal value.