Zendaya hopes ‘Euphoria’ fans ‘still see the good’ in Rue after she ‘hits rock bottom’
Warning: This post contains spoilers for Sunday’s episode of “Euphoria.”
The fifth episode of the second season of “Euphoria” marked a heartbreaking turning point for Zendaya’s Rue Bennett. And the Emmy winner hopes fans can still sympathize with her distressed protagonist.
Shortly before the hit show’s latest episode, “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird,” premiered Sunday night on HBO Max, Zendaya released a thoughtful statement reflecting on her character’s turbulent battle with grief and drug addiction.
In Sunday’s installment of the gritty teen drama, Rue repeatedly risks her life, breaks down in tears and becomes verbally and physically violent toward her loved ones after her mother and friends stage an intervention to help her recover from her season-long relapse.
“In this show, and this season more specifically, [Rue] hits rock bottom,” Zendaya wrote in a lengthy message shared on Instagram.
“It’s my hope for people watching that they can still see her as a person worthy of their love. And worthy of their time, and that she has a redemptive quality still, and that we still see the good in her even if she can’t see it in herself.”
Since the series premiered in 2019, “Euphoria” has earned a divisive reputation for its unflinching and graphic portrayal of teen drug addiction, sexual assault and violence.
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On multiple occasions, Zendaya — who made a name for herself on the Disney Channel and also stars in more kid-friendly projects such as the “Spider-Man” movies — has discouraged her younger fans from watching the show, created by Sam Levinson and rated TV-MA for mature audiences.
Throughout the series, Zendaya’s Rue has drifted in and out of sobriety after losing her father to cancer at a young age. Her character is often seen wearing her dad’s red hoodie as she struggles to cope with the loss.
“If people can go with [Rue] through that, and get to the end, and still have hope for her future, and watch her make the changes and steps to heal and humanize her through her sobriety journey and her addiction, then maybe they can extend that to people in real life,” Zendaya continued in her Sunday statement.
“If you can love her, then you can love someone that is struggling with the same thing, and maybe have a greater understanding of the pain they’re facing, that is often out of their control. So for me, that is the most important thing.”
“Nobody is getting their head cut off,” Zendaya says.
Sunday’s episode was especially intense — even by “Euphoria” standards — and sparked complex discussions online about exploring trauma on-screen. The program has been accused of gratuitously and excessively depicting nudity and violence and glamorizing drug use.
Zendaya, however, has consistently drawn praise for her performance; she became the youngest actor ever to win lead actress in a drama at the 2020 Emmy Awards for her emotionally demanding turn as Rue. After this weekend’s harrowing episode, “Euphoria” fans unofficially launched the performer’s campaign for Emmy No. 2 on social media.
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“I care about [Rue] deeply,” Zendaya wrote. “I also care about the people who care about her, because I think many of them share her story of addiction and sobriety, and many of them share a lot of her emotional disorders, and ... it’s important that we continue to have that love for her.
“That was a long-winded way of saying that I think it’s important that we have characters that are flawed. And remember that we are not the worst mistake we’ve ever made. And that redemption is possible.”
New episodes of “Euphoria” debut Sunday evenings on HBO Max.
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