America Is Still Dopesick

Entertainment

The Bulwark 13 October, 2021 - 04:53am

When is Dopesick on Hulu?

The first three episodes of "Dopesick" premiere on October 13 on Hulu. Roger EbertHulu's Dopesick is a Compelling, Didactic Look at the Opioid Epidemic | TV/Streaming

Is Dopesick based on a true story?

Knowing that “Dopesick” is based on a true story means also knowing that Richard's proposal to end an “epidemic of suffering” means starting an actual epidemic of opioid addiction, but even viewers entering Hulu's limited series with only a tertiary knowledge of our national health emergency will recognize the telltale ... IndieWire‘Dopesick’ Review: Michael Keaton Leads Hulu’s Dense, Dour Examination of the Opioid Crisis

How many episodes of Dopesick will there be?

In adapting Beth Macy's book “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company That Addicted America” for Hulu, Strong fleshes out the eight episodes with the domestic dramas of invented characters on the front lines of the OxyContin epidemic, primarily Betsy and her doctor, the widowed city transplant Samuel Finnix ( ... The New York TimesReview: 'Dopesick' Depicts the Opioid Crisis From All Sides

"Dopesick" is an ineffective prescription for telling the story of the opioid crisis

Screen Rant 13 October, 2021 - 02:30pm

The pain rating scale's frequent appearances also provide regular reminders of the moderate discomfort created by this viewing experience, but only in its most affecting scenes. In the main, watching the eight-episode limited series is numbing. That's not a feeling a show like this should engender in viewers.

Anyone committed to watch "Dopesick" should expect a tough viewing experience, since it endeavors to show us how our opioid crisis came to be. But while Danny Strong's adaptation of Beth Macy's New York Times bestseller "Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America" provides an adequate explainer of the epidemic's nascency, its hyperactive leapfrogging between 1986 and the early-to-mid aughts is needlessly baffling.

"Dopesick" debuts months after a U.S. bankruptcy judge approved Purdue's plan to resolve thousands of opioid lawsuits by the Sackler family contributing about $4.5 billion of their own cash, selling their pharmaceutical holdings, and forfeiting their equity in Purdue.

In exchange, members of the family will receive lifetime immunity from civil lawsuits over their role in promoting and encouraging the accelerated usage of OxyContin.

Knowing this, this show should enrage you. But it never earns that mood spike, robbing the story of its potency and undercutting the excellent performances from a strong ensemble fronted by Michael Keaton and Rosario Dawson, Michael Stuhlbarg and Peter Sarsgaard, who co-starred in Hulu's other star-studded and very important piece, the fictionalized 9/11 drama "The Looming Tower."

The recent court decision conflicts with the vision of Strong and director Barry Levinson in "Dopesick," in which the narrative places blame primarily on Richard Sackler (Stuhlbarg). Through the script and Stuhlbarg's portrayal of Sackler as a cold, unfeeling, small man determined to leave a giant's footprints in history, the series indicts Richard's ravenous ego and insatiable need to eclipse his uncle Arthur's legacy.

Stuhlbarg, a frequent player in prestige dramas like this one, plays the part well. He makes Richard's perma-frown the first trait we notice, as he rehearses a speech in a dim room that begins, "The time has come to redefine the nature of pain."

Even in those first moments with Richard, his strain to sound both charitable and serious allows us to understand that he's not trying to palliate agony but create it (alongside with profits). And Stuhlbarg's performance is convincingly chilly, despite the fact that he and the rest of the Sacklers are written like low-rent Bond villains.

Granted, this is not expressly Richard Sackler's story. It's also the tale of a determined DEA agent Bridget Meyer (Dawson) screaming into the wind as she tries to warn government officials about what Purdue is unleashing in small towns.

It's also the story of a kind, attentive country doctor, Samuel Finnix (Keaton), who becomes one of Purdue's earliest clients by prescribing the drug to injured coal miners in his Appalachian community — including a young woman named Betsy (Kaitlyn Dever) — and the boyish sales rep (Will Poulter) who gets him on the hook.

Floating between these two stories are Sarsgaard's U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle and John Hoogenakker's Randy Ramseyer, a pair of crusaders who join Meyer's efforts well after she's passed the point of absolute frustration.

Crafting "Dopesick" into an intriguing fictional narrative is no simple task, which is why the job fell to Strong, the guy who gave us "Recount" and later on, "Empire." Purdue Pharma's deliberately misleading branding of OxyContin is a story of massive malfeasance that exemplifies the coziness between multibillions corporations and federal government agencies that are supposed to protect everyday Americans. That requires significant explanations of how the law was bent or broken; and, on top of that, how it was artfully but simply circumvented in some cases.

Some of the most consequential turns in Purdue's favor portrayed here are the result of someone at the Food & Drug Administration either failing to properly read proposed changes; or, more often than not, turning a blind eye to new information brought to their attention. Explaining the intricacies of these developments can bog down each episode's movement, which is why Strong emphasizes the far more relatable irritation our intrepid agents experience when they're intentionally stonewalled.

But it's a mistake to shove at least three made-for-TV movie plots into a single limited series.

A couple of these arcs could stand on their own, especially the one anchored by Keaton's sensitive performance and Dever's raw, painful portrayal of a woman in a small town who, for so many reasons, never stood a chance.

But we don't spend enough time with these characters together, or separately, to wholly connect with their pain. As a result, the series never convincingly establishes why her attempts to nab Purdue destroy the personal life of Dawson's DEA agent character.    

Indeed, none of the characters' tales feel fully realized, or even complete, at the end of the seven episodes made available for review.  Since Strong's script leans heavily on humanizing the toll this emergency is taking on every aspect of American life — save for the people profiting off it — that lack of substance ultimately defeats the story.

With the stylistic details lurk other annoyances, including the Hollywood trope of establishing coal country with a fiddle-heavy soundtrack, made keenly grating by placing it beside the lilting, antiseptic violin concertos that accompany each resplendent Sackler family shareholder meeting. Perhaps if the overall production were better, the musical cues wouldn't even be noticeable; but as it is, they're a distraction on top of multiple detractions.

The opioid epidemic wreaked by OxyContin is amply and ably covered in several non-fiction treatments, whether you seek it out by way of Frontline's ongoing coverage, via a docuseries such as Alex Gibney's excellent "Crime of the Century," or otherwise. "Dopesick" could have provided a moving fictionalized alternative for people who don't watch documentaries but still want to understand how these tiny pills came to be such a destructive force in modern society. Instead, we're given a tragedy lacking adequate conflict and drama whose miserable ending is still playing out.

Melanie McFarland is Salon's TV critic. Follow her on Twitter: @McTelevision

Copyright © 2021 Salon.com, LLC. Reproduction of material from any Salon pages without written permission is strictly prohibited. SALON ® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a trademark of Salon.com, LLC. Associated Press articles: Copyright © 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

"Dopesick" is an ineffective prescription for telling the story of the opioid crisis

TheWrap 13 October, 2021 - 02:30pm

The pain rating scale's frequent appearances also provide regular reminders of the moderate discomfort created by this viewing experience, but only in its most affecting scenes. In the main, watching the eight-episode limited series is numbing. That's not a feeling a show like this should engender in viewers.

Anyone committed to watch "Dopesick" should expect a tough viewing experience, since it endeavors to show us how our opioid crisis came to be. But while Danny Strong's adaptation of Beth Macy's New York Times bestseller "Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America" provides an adequate explainer of the epidemic's nascency, its hyperactive leapfrogging between 1986 and the early-to-mid aughts is needlessly baffling.

"Dopesick" debuts months after a U.S. bankruptcy judge approved Purdue's plan to resolve thousands of opioid lawsuits by the Sackler family contributing about $4.5 billion of their own cash, selling their pharmaceutical holdings, and forfeiting their equity in Purdue.

In exchange, members of the family will receive lifetime immunity from civil lawsuits over their role in promoting and encouraging the accelerated usage of OxyContin.

Knowing this, this show should enrage you. But it never earns that mood spike, robbing the story of its potency and undercutting the excellent performances from a strong ensemble fronted by Michael Keaton and Rosario Dawson, Michael Stuhlbarg and Peter Sarsgaard, who co-starred in Hulu's other star-studded and very important piece, the fictionalized 9/11 drama "The Looming Tower."

The recent court decision conflicts with the vision of Strong and director Barry Levinson in "Dopesick," in which the narrative places blame primarily on Richard Sackler (Stuhlbarg). Through the script and Stuhlbarg's portrayal of Sackler as a cold, unfeeling, small man determined to leave a giant's footprints in history, the series indicts Richard's ravenous ego and insatiable need to eclipse his uncle Arthur's legacy.

Stuhlbarg, a frequent player in prestige dramas like this one, plays the part well. He makes Richard's perma-frown the first trait we notice, as he rehearses a speech in a dim room that begins, "The time has come to redefine the nature of pain."

Even in those first moments with Richard, his strain to sound both charitable and serious allows us to understand that he's not trying to palliate agony but create it (alongside with profits). And Stuhlbarg's performance is convincingly chilly, despite the fact that he and the rest of the Sacklers are written like low-rent Bond villains.

Granted, this is not expressly Richard Sackler's story. It's also the tale of a determined DEA agent Bridget Meyer (Dawson) screaming into the wind as she tries to warn government officials about what Purdue is unleashing in small towns.

It's also the story of a kind, attentive country doctor, Samuel Finnix (Keaton), who becomes one of Purdue's earliest clients by prescribing the drug to injured coal miners in his Appalachian community — including a young woman named Betsy (Kaitlyn Dever) — and the boyish sales rep (Will Poulter) who gets him on the hook.

Floating between these two stories are Sarsgaard's U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle and John Hoogenakker's Randy Ramseyer, a pair of crusaders who join Meyer's efforts well after she's passed the point of absolute frustration.

Crafting "Dopesick" into an intriguing fictional narrative is no simple task, which is why the job fell to Strong, the guy who gave us "Recount" and later on, "Empire." Purdue Pharma's deliberately misleading branding of OxyContin is a story of massive malfeasance that exemplifies the coziness between multibillions corporations and federal government agencies that are supposed to protect everyday Americans. That requires significant explanations of how the law was bent or broken; and, on top of that, how it was artfully but simply circumvented in some cases.

Some of the most consequential turns in Purdue's favor portrayed here are the result of someone at the Food & Drug Administration either failing to properly read proposed changes; or, more often than not, turning a blind eye to new information brought to their attention. Explaining the intricacies of these developments can bog down each episode's movement, which is why Strong emphasizes the far more relatable irritation our intrepid agents experience when they're intentionally stonewalled.

But it's a mistake to shove at least three made-for-TV movie plots into a single limited series.

A couple of these arcs could stand on their own, especially the one anchored by Keaton's sensitive performance and Dever's raw, painful portrayal of a woman in a small town who, for so many reasons, never stood a chance.

But we don't spend enough time with these characters together, or separately, to wholly connect with their pain. As a result, the series never convincingly establishes why her attempts to nab Purdue destroy the personal life of Dawson's DEA agent character.    

Indeed, none of the characters' tales feel fully realized, or even complete, at the end of the seven episodes made available for review.  Since Strong's script leans heavily on humanizing the toll this emergency is taking on every aspect of American life — save for the people profiting off it — that lack of substance ultimately defeats the story.

With the stylistic details lurk other annoyances, including the Hollywood trope of establishing coal country with a fiddle-heavy soundtrack, made keenly grating by placing it beside the lilting, antiseptic violin concertos that accompany each resplendent Sackler family shareholder meeting. Perhaps if the overall production were better, the musical cues wouldn't even be noticeable; but as it is, they're a distraction on top of multiple detractions.

The opioid epidemic wreaked by OxyContin is amply and ably covered in several non-fiction treatments, whether you seek it out by way of Frontline's ongoing coverage, via a docuseries such as Alex Gibney's excellent "Crime of the Century," or otherwise. "Dopesick" could have provided a moving fictionalized alternative for people who don't watch documentaries but still want to understand how these tiny pills came to be such a destructive force in modern society. Instead, we're given a tragedy lacking adequate conflict and drama whose miserable ending is still playing out.

Melanie McFarland is Salon's TV critic. Follow her on Twitter: @McTelevision

Copyright © 2021 Salon.com, LLC. Reproduction of material from any Salon pages without written permission is strictly prohibited. SALON ® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a trademark of Salon.com, LLC. Associated Press articles: Copyright © 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

"Dopesick" is an ineffective prescription for telling the story of the opioid crisis

The Cinemaholic 13 October, 2021 - 02:30pm

The pain rating scale's frequent appearances also provide regular reminders of the moderate discomfort created by this viewing experience, but only in its most affecting scenes. In the main, watching the eight-episode limited series is numbing. That's not a feeling a show like this should engender in viewers.

Anyone committed to watch "Dopesick" should expect a tough viewing experience, since it endeavors to show us how our opioid crisis came to be. But while Danny Strong's adaptation of Beth Macy's New York Times bestseller "Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America" provides an adequate explainer of the epidemic's nascency, its hyperactive leapfrogging between 1986 and the early-to-mid aughts is needlessly baffling.

"Dopesick" debuts months after a U.S. bankruptcy judge approved Purdue's plan to resolve thousands of opioid lawsuits by the Sackler family contributing about $4.5 billion of their own cash, selling their pharmaceutical holdings, and forfeiting their equity in Purdue.

In exchange, members of the family will receive lifetime immunity from civil lawsuits over their role in promoting and encouraging the accelerated usage of OxyContin.

Knowing this, this show should enrage you. But it never earns that mood spike, robbing the story of its potency and undercutting the excellent performances from a strong ensemble fronted by Michael Keaton and Rosario Dawson, Michael Stuhlbarg and Peter Sarsgaard, who co-starred in Hulu's other star-studded and very important piece, the fictionalized 9/11 drama "The Looming Tower."

The recent court decision conflicts with the vision of Strong and director Barry Levinson in "Dopesick," in which the narrative places blame primarily on Richard Sackler (Stuhlbarg). Through the script and Stuhlbarg's portrayal of Sackler as a cold, unfeeling, small man determined to leave a giant's footprints in history, the series indicts Richard's ravenous ego and insatiable need to eclipse his uncle Arthur's legacy.

Stuhlbarg, a frequent player in prestige dramas like this one, plays the part well. He makes Richard's perma-frown the first trait we notice, as he rehearses a speech in a dim room that begins, "The time has come to redefine the nature of pain."

Even in those first moments with Richard, his strain to sound both charitable and serious allows us to understand that he's not trying to palliate agony but create it (alongside with profits). And Stuhlbarg's performance is convincingly chilly, despite the fact that he and the rest of the Sacklers are written like low-rent Bond villains.

Granted, this is not expressly Richard Sackler's story. It's also the tale of a determined DEA agent Bridget Meyer (Dawson) screaming into the wind as she tries to warn government officials about what Purdue is unleashing in small towns.

It's also the story of a kind, attentive country doctor, Samuel Finnix (Keaton), who becomes one of Purdue's earliest clients by prescribing the drug to injured coal miners in his Appalachian community — including a young woman named Betsy (Kaitlyn Dever) — and the boyish sales rep (Will Poulter) who gets him on the hook.

Floating between these two stories are Sarsgaard's U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle and John Hoogenakker's Randy Ramseyer, a pair of crusaders who join Meyer's efforts well after she's passed the point of absolute frustration.

Crafting "Dopesick" into an intriguing fictional narrative is no simple task, which is why the job fell to Strong, the guy who gave us "Recount" and later on, "Empire." Purdue Pharma's deliberately misleading branding of OxyContin is a story of massive malfeasance that exemplifies the coziness between multibillions corporations and federal government agencies that are supposed to protect everyday Americans. That requires significant explanations of how the law was bent or broken; and, on top of that, how it was artfully but simply circumvented in some cases.

Some of the most consequential turns in Purdue's favor portrayed here are the result of someone at the Food & Drug Administration either failing to properly read proposed changes; or, more often than not, turning a blind eye to new information brought to their attention. Explaining the intricacies of these developments can bog down each episode's movement, which is why Strong emphasizes the far more relatable irritation our intrepid agents experience when they're intentionally stonewalled.

But it's a mistake to shove at least three made-for-TV movie plots into a single limited series.

A couple of these arcs could stand on their own, especially the one anchored by Keaton's sensitive performance and Dever's raw, painful portrayal of a woman in a small town who, for so many reasons, never stood a chance.

But we don't spend enough time with these characters together, or separately, to wholly connect with their pain. As a result, the series never convincingly establishes why her attempts to nab Purdue destroy the personal life of Dawson's DEA agent character.    

Indeed, none of the characters' tales feel fully realized, or even complete, at the end of the seven episodes made available for review.  Since Strong's script leans heavily on humanizing the toll this emergency is taking on every aspect of American life — save for the people profiting off it — that lack of substance ultimately defeats the story.

With the stylistic details lurk other annoyances, including the Hollywood trope of establishing coal country with a fiddle-heavy soundtrack, made keenly grating by placing it beside the lilting, antiseptic violin concertos that accompany each resplendent Sackler family shareholder meeting. Perhaps if the overall production were better, the musical cues wouldn't even be noticeable; but as it is, they're a distraction on top of multiple detractions.

The opioid epidemic wreaked by OxyContin is amply and ably covered in several non-fiction treatments, whether you seek it out by way of Frontline's ongoing coverage, via a docuseries such as Alex Gibney's excellent "Crime of the Century," or otherwise. "Dopesick" could have provided a moving fictionalized alternative for people who don't watch documentaries but still want to understand how these tiny pills came to be such a destructive force in modern society. Instead, we're given a tragedy lacking adequate conflict and drama whose miserable ending is still playing out.

Melanie McFarland is Salon's TV critic. Follow her on Twitter: @McTelevision

Copyright © 2021 Salon.com, LLC. Reproduction of material from any Salon pages without written permission is strictly prohibited. SALON ® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a trademark of Salon.com, LLC. Associated Press articles: Copyright © 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Keaton's opioid drama is a harrowing must-watch - Times News Express

Times News Express 13 October, 2021 - 09:36am

We all know the story of the opioid epidemic. Or maybe we just think we do. 

Much attention has been devoted to the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose in the U.S. – nearly 72,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2019 – although the focus on where we are now in the battle against the epidemic can obscure how, exactly, we got here. 

Hulu’s “Dopesick” (first three episodes premiering Wednesday, then streaming weekly, ★★★ out of four) aims to fill in the gaps by tracing the rise of one opioid drug: Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin. Inspired by the nonfiction book “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America” by journalist Beth Macy, the miniseries is a fictionalized account of the epidemic, mixing real-life figures with composite characters whose lives were affected, and sometimes destroyed, by opioids.  

Created by Danny Strong (“Empire,” “Game Change”) and starring Michael Keaton, “Dopesick” is a harsh rebuke of Big Pharma, the health care system and the American government’s long inaction on opioids. Unrelenting in its tragedy, irony and criticism, the series spans the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s as the crisis intensifies across the nation. A devastating series that sometimes gets preachy and slow, “Dopesick” is a vivid, affecting portrait of an American tragedy that you can’t look away from. 

The primary subjects in “Dopesick” are the billionaire Sacklers who own Purdue; DEA agent Bridget Meyer (Rosario Dawson), who’s obsessed with getting Oxy under control; two U.S. attorneys (Peter Sarsgaard and John Hoogenakker) trying to build a case against Purdue;  Appalachian family doctor Samuel Finnix (Keaton) and the Purdue sales rep (Will Poulter) who’s hounding him to prescribe Oxy; and one of his young patients, Betsy Mallum (Kaitlyn Dever), a Virginia coal miner who becomes addicted after taking the drug to help with a back injury. 

The overarching story is remarkably simple: Purdue introduces OxyContin, falsely claiming that – unlike previous opioids – it isn’t very addictive; egged on by aggressive reps, doctors start prescribing it; crime and deaths follow; and law enforcement officers try (but often fail) to do something about it. 

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Add Comments (Max 320 characters)

This will help us improve your ad experience. We will try not to show you such ads again.

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“Dopesick” is adept at bridging the line between the personal and the big picture, weaving its intimate stories among colder, broader scenes in corporate offices and on Capitol Hill. When Bridget appeals to unfeeling Purdue reps or defensive FDA employees to help her save addicts and families in danger, the audience knows how great the need is, having already seen Betsy’s life devolve into chaos. 

More:The 10 best new TV shows to watch this fall, from ‘Dopesick’ to ‘Muhammad Ali’

The series unfortunately follows a recent TV trend of out-of-sequence timelines, jumping from the 1990s to the early 2000s to the mid-2000s repeatedly during each episode. In some instances, it serves to emphasize the points the writers are trying to make about the devastation of OxyContin and opioids in general. But in others, it muddles the narrative and becomes more confusing than emphatic. “Dopesick” is far from the only offender (and far from the worst), but more linear storytelling might have worked better here. 

The cast is excellent and empathetic, helping ground the series. Keaton is at his best, mastering a character who’s a mess of contradictions and transformation. Dever helps prevent her character, a closeted lesbian stuck in a small town, from becoming stereotypical. The true star of the series, however, is Dawson, whose DEA agent is passionate and angry on behalf of the suffering she sees in the world but stymied at nearly every turn in her quest for justice, especially as a woman of color in law enforcement who’s often dismissed by her superiors. 

“Dopesick,” as one might expect, turns its lens onthe most tragic moments, and the grimmest settings, caused by addiction. But even when it isn’t showing the death, illness and strife caused by opioids, it is brutal to watch. Scenes set in the sunlight are full of moments when I wanted to scream “don’t take that pill!” at the TV, as if it’s a predictable horror movie.

But it isn’t a horror film with CGI monsters; it’s based on a true story where the monsters were hidden behind lawyers, inside innocuous-looking pill bottles and in a disease we didn’t understand. There are times when “Dopesick” moralizes its way into after-school special territory, but that can be overlooked for how effective it is at bringing the opioid epidemic – often relayed to the public as a series of statistics – to harrowing life. 

If great art reflects life, “Dopesick” is the kind that’s meant to force us to stare into that reflection and find something better for the future. 

Keaton's opioid drama is a harrowing must-watch - Times News Express

Bustle 13 October, 2021 - 09:36am

We all know the story of the opioid epidemic. Or maybe we just think we do. 

Much attention has been devoted to the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose in the U.S. – nearly 72,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2019 – although the focus on where we are now in the battle against the epidemic can obscure how, exactly, we got here. 

Hulu’s “Dopesick” (first three episodes premiering Wednesday, then streaming weekly, ★★★ out of four) aims to fill in the gaps by tracing the rise of one opioid drug: Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin. Inspired by the nonfiction book “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America” by journalist Beth Macy, the miniseries is a fictionalized account of the epidemic, mixing real-life figures with composite characters whose lives were affected, and sometimes destroyed, by opioids.  

Created by Danny Strong (“Empire,” “Game Change”) and starring Michael Keaton, “Dopesick” is a harsh rebuke of Big Pharma, the health care system and the American government’s long inaction on opioids. Unrelenting in its tragedy, irony and criticism, the series spans the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s as the crisis intensifies across the nation. A devastating series that sometimes gets preachy and slow, “Dopesick” is a vivid, affecting portrait of an American tragedy that you can’t look away from. 

The primary subjects in “Dopesick” are the billionaire Sacklers who own Purdue; DEA agent Bridget Meyer (Rosario Dawson), who’s obsessed with getting Oxy under control; two U.S. attorneys (Peter Sarsgaard and John Hoogenakker) trying to build a case against Purdue;  Appalachian family doctor Samuel Finnix (Keaton) and the Purdue sales rep (Will Poulter) who’s hounding him to prescribe Oxy; and one of his young patients, Betsy Mallum (Kaitlyn Dever), a Virginia coal miner who becomes addicted after taking the drug to help with a back injury. 

The overarching story is remarkably simple: Purdue introduces OxyContin, falsely claiming that – unlike previous opioids – it isn’t very addictive; egged on by aggressive reps, doctors start prescribing it; crime and deaths follow; and law enforcement officers try (but often fail) to do something about it. 

This will help us improve your ad experience. We will try not to show you such ads again.

Add Comments (Max 320 characters)

This will help us improve your ad experience. We will try not to show you such ads again.

Add Comments (Max 320 characters)

“Dopesick” is adept at bridging the line between the personal and the big picture, weaving its intimate stories among colder, broader scenes in corporate offices and on Capitol Hill. When Bridget appeals to unfeeling Purdue reps or defensive FDA employees to help her save addicts and families in danger, the audience knows how great the need is, having already seen Betsy’s life devolve into chaos. 

More:The 10 best new TV shows to watch this fall, from ‘Dopesick’ to ‘Muhammad Ali’

The series unfortunately follows a recent TV trend of out-of-sequence timelines, jumping from the 1990s to the early 2000s to the mid-2000s repeatedly during each episode. In some instances, it serves to emphasize the points the writers are trying to make about the devastation of OxyContin and opioids in general. But in others, it muddles the narrative and becomes more confusing than emphatic. “Dopesick” is far from the only offender (and far from the worst), but more linear storytelling might have worked better here. 

The cast is excellent and empathetic, helping ground the series. Keaton is at his best, mastering a character who’s a mess of contradictions and transformation. Dever helps prevent her character, a closeted lesbian stuck in a small town, from becoming stereotypical. The true star of the series, however, is Dawson, whose DEA agent is passionate and angry on behalf of the suffering she sees in the world but stymied at nearly every turn in her quest for justice, especially as a woman of color in law enforcement who’s often dismissed by her superiors. 

“Dopesick,” as one might expect, turns its lens onthe most tragic moments, and the grimmest settings, caused by addiction. But even when it isn’t showing the death, illness and strife caused by opioids, it is brutal to watch. Scenes set in the sunlight are full of moments when I wanted to scream “don’t take that pill!” at the TV, as if it’s a predictable horror movie.

But it isn’t a horror film with CGI monsters; it’s based on a true story where the monsters were hidden behind lawyers, inside innocuous-looking pill bottles and in a disease we didn’t understand. There are times when “Dopesick” moralizes its way into after-school special territory, but that can be overlooked for how effective it is at bringing the opioid epidemic – often relayed to the public as a series of statistics – to harrowing life. 

If great art reflects life, “Dopesick” is the kind that’s meant to force us to stare into that reflection and find something better for the future. 

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