Dopesick is an American drama miniseries created by Danny Strong based on the nonfiction book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy. Over a series of eight episodes, Dopesick focuses on the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction across the U.S., and specifically the drug OxyContin.
The miniseries does an excellent job in presenting the opioid crisis through the lives of several characters. These characters include, amongst others :
Dr. Samuel Finnix (Michael Keaton), an Appalachian physician who prescribes the drug early on, when convinced by sales agents of its non-addictive nature (a false claim);
Billy Cutler (Will Poutler), an ambitious Purdue Pharma (OxyContin manufacturers) sales agent;
Rick Mountcastle (Peter Sarsgaard), a upright assistant DA working to indict Purdue Pharma;
coalminer Betsy Mallum (Kaitlyn Deiver), an OxyContin addict;
DEA agent Bridget Meyer (Rosario Dawson), and
Richard Sackler (Michael Stuhlbarg), the President of Purdue Pharma.
Ultimately, for anyone familiar with the facts involved in the case against Purdue Pharma, the ultimate outcome might not be satisfactory as the Sackler family has legally protected themselves. However, the importance of the stories of the victims of OxyContin and the Sacklers’ culpability – as presented in this miniseries – deserves to be told.
Themes of greed and corruption run through Dopesick, with the FDA coming off particularly badly, with the pitfalls of unbridled capitalism being exposed for all to see. The miniseries never hides from dealing honestly with the sheer horror of the situation.
The performances in Dopesick are at a high level, with the writing engaging the viewer’s emotions deftly, from righteous anger to helpless sadness, with sheer incredulity common, especially to anyone outside the USA looking in and wondering how the US government could allow the opiod crisis to destroy the lives of so many of its own citizens. Highly recommended.
Now streaming on Disney+.
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