Based on the book by Beth Macy, the new Hulu series travels the Appalachian hills and theatersth Purdue Pharma meeting to tell a story of greed and suffering.
Sitting on your couch, remote in hand, you can select a drama about an intimidating and obscenely well-off family who are torn by internal strife but revel in asserting their wealth and power even as people die. Or you can watch "Succession ".
Unlike this HBO show, Hulu's new eight-part series " Dopesick ”Doesn 't laugh at the bizarre behavior of its industry titans. But the biggest distinction is that " Dopesick ", although this is a ed drama, is about the role alleged real family in creating one of the world's biggest health disastersublique of American history: The Opioid Crisis.
Based largely on Beth Macy's 2018 book, the show seeks to dramatize how the members of the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma, aided by lax regulations, pushed OxyContin onto the public from the 1990s. The introduction of OxyContin is now seen as the start of the epidemic of opioids, which has killed more than 500,000 people nationwide and millions of other addicts.
The Sacklers say they wear no responsibility for the sis cry and will probably never be tried, due to the extended protections integrated into abankruptcy settlement that dissolved Purdue Pharma last month. These regulations made the timing of the new series all the more important to its producers.
"This series is the trial that should have taken place "said Danny Strong (" Empire "), who created and oversaw the show, which debuted Wednesday. "What takes the story to a deep place is that it is about the dark side of American capitalism, where you have the collusion of government and industry.
"Dopesick " stands out from a growing list of high-profile books and documentaries on the crisis, including a recent four-hour documentary on HBO, "The Crime of the Century ", by Alex Gibney, based in part on leaks from a 120- page report of the Ministry of Justice of2006 which remained confidential as the department pushed to settle with Purdue in 2007. (Purdue pleaded guilty and then to a felony charge of" bad brand "from OxyContin; three executives each pleaded guilty to a related offense.) Image Credit ... Patricia Wall / The Hfrance.fr
The new series, which counts Barry Levinson ("Diner", "Rain Man") among its directors, picks up, in a sense, where this documentary ends; Using the freedom of ed television, he ventures into the four-year investigation behind this report - led by a group of federal prosecutors (played by John Hoogenakker, Jake McDorman and Peter Sarsgaard) and a frustrated Drug Enforcement Administration agent (Rosario Dawson).
Making a series also offered "l 'unique advantage,' said Strong, of placing the viewer inside the rooms with the executives of Purdue "when they discuss their manipulative marketing campaigns. These scenes are not perfect recreations, he said. recognized Strong, but they are based on mountains of pre-existing research from Macy, who is an executive producer and helped write the series, and additional research from Strong, Macy and others.
"It 'sa piece of art, with actors saying dialogue ", Strong said. facts. "
At the moral center of" Dopesick "is Dr Samuel Finnix, a family doctor at the city ficAppalachian tive from Finch Creek, Virginia, played by Michael Keaton. (His character, like several others, is an amalgamation of several real people.) Finnix is convinced by aggressive Purdue sellers that OxyContin is a wonder drug - a strong, long-acting pain reliever that they say is addictive. in less than 1% of people who take it as prescribed. Image Rosario Dawson plays an AED agent who in the 1990s began to notice a disturbing trend of preion opioid addiction in the areas rural. Credit ... Antony Platt / Hulu
Finnix knows little that he, like so many real doctors, is being manipulatedwith false and misleading information about its addictive properties - including by a deceptive only FDA approved label . The label was not based on clinical trial results, but on a theory put forward by Purdue that the drug was less addictive than shorter-acting pain relievers.
The truth becomes clear as Finnix watches patient after patient - including an injured young coal miner played by Kaitlyn Dever - becomes addicted. Some of them die.
Keaton, who is also an executive producer, was motivated to participate in the series in part because one of his nephew died of fentanyl and heroin use.
"You become consumed by the deathndance "Keaton said in a recent phone interview." It 'sa soul draw. It brings down some really great people. "
" I am proud to hold these people accountable for the victims of this opioid crisis "he added.
When the series does not snuggle up with investigators and victims of the crisis, it strolls through the council chambers and the homes of its beneficiaries, the Sackler family, whose fortunes were estimated in April at around 11 billion. At the forefront is Richard Sackler (Michael Stuhlbarg), who must navigate family policy and government regulations in his drive to create a blockbuster drug and achieve corporate presidency.
(A spokeswoman for now dissolved Purdue Pharma, Michele Sharp, declined to comment on this article; Paul Holmes and Davidson Goldin, spokesperson for the two branches of the Sackler family with a ownership story in Purdue Pharma, also declined to comment.) Image Michael Stuhlbarg, center, as Richard Sackler. A "unique perk " of doing a ed series, said show creator Danny Strong, was being able to walk into the room with the executives at Purdue. Credit ... Gene page / Hulu
Strong decided early on to make the investigation of American lawyers the "narrative column " of the series ,did he declare. He then decided that the intersection between Purdue's internal machinations and the sufferers at Finch Creek would offer "a true understanding of what happened ". to hire Kentucky novelist Robert Gipe ( "Trampoline ") to make sure the series portrays the small town of Appalachia without stereotypes. She also brought many sources into the writers room, including former Purdue employees and a doctor who discussed the pressure he was feeling from sales reps and his own addiction to it. drug.
Fort and Keaton were both stunned to learn how the drug changes a person 's brain chemistry , even when taken as prescribed.
"The idea that your lobe frontal is impaired and can take two years to recover from this shocked me, "Strong said.
With that in mind, Strong said that 'he had made "recovery and cure a major intrigue in the last few episodes", in the hope of destigmatizing the treatment of disorders related to the use of opioids. For Macy, that meant emphasizing the effectiveness of drug-assisted treatment, in which addicts use a less dangerous opioid like methadone or Suboxone to regain life.
This also meant being sure to include some details to help clarify the record, like the well-documented directive in a 2001 email to" hammer out the aggressors ”and present them as the culprits.
" They blamed the wrong people and got away with it "said Macy." I hope people will understand that a lot of people were addicted through no fault of their own, but because of Purdue getting the message across that opioids are now safe. I hope the show opens hearts and minds to who the real criminals are. " Image Protesters in 2019 outside a courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts, where a judge heard arguments in a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma. Credit ... Charles Krupa / Associated Press
Ryan Hampton, former Bill Clinton campaign staff and author of the newCalf Book "Unsettled" on the Opioid Crisis, Agree; he said the show might help Americans understand that drug addicts weren't the problem.
"We didn't do this to ourselves said Hampton, who was injured while hiking in 2003 and prescribed opioids. He became addicted, abused OxyContin and eventually heroin, then lost his job and home before getting sober in 2015.
"These were the people in the meeting rooms who were bringing death and destruction to our communities," he added. “Having recognizable faces in these roles can be transformative in shaping more positive attitudes.
But Strong and Macy made sure the "Dopesick " ed look beyond Purdue Pharma's behavior to a federal government that has often shut down eyes - or worse - in the dangers while letting campaign fundraising dollars flow in.
"The Sacklers are the microscopic view of history " said Keaton . "But the macro examines all the companies that have caused exponential damage, especially to lower and middle class people and their communities.
Randy Ramseyer, the deputy US lawyer played by Hoogenakker on the show, said in an email that he didn't want viewers to "blame a family and forget about all the systemic failings that are causing our problems ".
"This mindset will not help us make changes to avoid respawns " he continued.
Little seems to have changed since the period c covered by "Dopesick ". In 2016 , Congress rewrites federal law of way to heavily constrained DEA 'ability to keep preion pain relievers off the black market after two-year, $ 106 million lobbying campaign industry.
Meanwhile, the Sacklers, now protected by the bankruptcy settlement, remain one of the most rich in America. (Several states have said they will appeal the settlement.)
Ramseyer, who has not seen "Dopesick ", didn 't say what impact he thought the serie could have. But he stressed the need for change.
"As a society, it seems we haven't learned anything from this experience," he said. he stated about the history of Purdue and OxyContin. "No one is paying attention.