TV review: Dopesick
Rating: 4 TICK
Like the drug at the centre of the drama, Dopesick is, in the most positive sense of the word, addictive.
Now showing on Disney+, it presents the shocking true story of America's opioid epidemic which reared its ugly head in the 90s and persists till today, and its connection to Purdue Pharma, the subject of multiple lawsuits and fines.
And when dosed with terrific performances from a pedigreed ensemble cast, there is no way you won't get hooked.
Created by Danny Strong (Game Change, Empire) and based on the book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America, the ambitious eight-episode series spans multiple timelines and points of view with ease.
Billionaire businessman-physician Richard Sackler (Michael Stuhlbarg) from Purdue launches powerful painkiller OxyContin, which is deliberately misbranded as a non-addictive narcotic but quickly becomes the most abused and accessible street drug in the country.
Michael Keaton's small-town doctor is introduced to the medication by a charming medical sales rep (Will Poulter), then unwittingly prescribes it to patients in need.
One of them is a young coal miner (Kaitlyn Dever) who experiences injury-related pain and eventually spirals down into addiction, her storyline being the most harrowing. Even the doctor himself is not immune to the effects of Oxy.
Meanwhile, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent (Rosario Dawson) goes to war with Purdue, while federal prosecutors (Peter Sarsgaard and John Hoogenakker) embark on an exhaustive criminal investigation.
It is infuriating how Purdue manages to work the system, have medical experts, district attorneys and even the Food And Drug Administration in its pocket and get away with murder.
The corporate greed, callousness, deception and injustice may make your stomach turn, as will the individual tragedies amid the ravaged communities.
The inner workings of Big Pharma is a bitter pill to swallow, but what is being peddled here is also essential viewing. - JEANMARIE TAN