TV Review: Hulu’s DOPESICK is Dope!

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Well that was a bit of a corny, yet, candid article title. Hulu’s new mini-series Dopesick is so good. Now that you know my instant feeling on it, let me tell you why you can’t pass up this show.

I’ll delve into all the elements that make this a must-see series from creator Danny Strong.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT:

Based on the novel by Beth Macy, the story of Dopesick centers on a the rise of the opioid crisis. The characters depicted are interconnected to the opioid epidemic in an Appalachian community.

The story moves focusing on a doctor, a teenage girl and her family of coal miners, the feds and a pharma rep. Each character and storyline connected to the same thing…opioids.

We are introduced to Dr. Samuel Finnix (Michael Keaton), Betsy Mallum (Kaitlyn Dever), Billy Cutler (Will Poulter) aand Rick Mountcastle (Peter Sarsgaard). Those are the “main” characters highlighted in the story. Each of them coming from a vastly different angle in terms to their affiliation with opioids.

Dopesick — “The 5th Vital Sign” – Episode 103 — Doctor Finnix begins to taper Betsy off OxyContin, Bridget sees the toll the drug is taking on communities, Rick and Randy investigate the world of “pain societies”, and with sales climbing, Richard Sackler makes bigger plans for his new drug. Betsy Mallum (Kaitlyn Dever), shown. (Photo by: Gene Page/Hulu)

TAKEAWAYS AND OBSERVATIONS:

The story moves around from different perspectives. All these side stories are interwoven. The main characters cross paths one way or the other. Interestingly each of them has a vastly different motive, which makes it all that more interesting. The show paints the picture from different perspectives and it’s not straight lined by any means.

You’ll also notice that it bounces between time frames, ranging from months to years. Don’t blink or you might find yourself a bit lost as to where and why things are happening the way they do. Personally I didn’t mind the time jumps, but it has the potential to throw you off.

Dopesick — “Breakthrough Pain” – Episode 102 — OxyContin is on the market but faces a potential threat, Purdue’s vast influence reaches the town of Finch Creek, Bridget steps outside her DEA authority, and the criminal investigation of OxyContin begins. Dr. Samuel Finnix (Michael Keaton) and Billy (Will Poulter), shown. (Photo by: Antony Platt/Hulu)

The look of the show feels gritty. It also looks very much like a feature. That’s a good thing. TV shows are at an all-time high in terms of quality, but this one has the feel of a movie. Very crisp production value.

HOW DID THE ACTORS DO:

The cast is electric. When you have a bonafide A-list talent like Michael Keaton leading the way, you’re in good hands. Keaton plays a small town doctor in question. Keaton is so good in this role. He has the everyday man charm and relatability to him, yet, his seedy actions are in question. Do you root for him and feel sympathy, or root against him? Keaton makes it difficult to pick a side. That’s what an elite actor does for a character.

Dopesick — “The 5th Vital Sign” – Episode 103 — Doctor Finnix begins to taper Betsy off OxyContin, Bridget sees the toll the drug is taking on communities, Rick and Randy investigate the world of “pain societies”, and with sales climbing, Richard Sackler makes bigger plans for his new drug. Dr. Samuel Finnix (Michael Keaton), shown. (Photo by: Gene Page/Hulu)

Kaitlyn Dever is a fast rising star. She does nothing to dissuade that fact. She plays a local miner girl who is also trying to live her truth, the character has layers to her.

Peter Sarsgaard is always on-point. He’s one of the best and most underrated actors in the industry. He’s perfect to play a determined DEA agent chasing Purdue Pharma.

I also have to mention Will Poulter’s work on the show. He plays a smuggish sales rep. His character is layered nicely also, on the surface it’s easy to judge and label him a villain of sorts, but he does have some charming and redeeming qualities.

Dopesick — “The 5th Vital Sign” – Episode 103 — Doctor Finnix begins to taper Betsy off OxyContin, Bridget sees the toll the drug is taking on communities, Rick and Randy investigate the world of “pain societies”, and with sales climbing, Richard Sackler makes bigger plans for his new drug. Billy Cutler (Will Poulter) and Amber Collins (Phillipa Soo), shown. (Photo by: Gene Page/Hulu)

SHOULD YOU SEE IT:

There is nothing not to like about Dopesick. It’s highly entertaining and poignant. I have to give it a lot of credit for delving into the opioid crist and hitting it from various angles. It’s a thorough look at it, not much different from the book, which is an ultimate compliment. Movies have been made on the opioid crisis, but none to the level of finesse of Dopesick.

The cast couldn’t be any better. Layered characters with depth and intrigue. The script is superb. It’s one of those shows that you can’t look away or pause. Highly bingable. I also loved the set-up of the cliffhangers at the end of each episode. It leaves you wanting to jump into the next one. All episodes will keep you on-edge until the very end.

Dopesick is one of the best shows out there, yes, I see you coming Succession. It’s unfortunate that it only is limited to eight episodes, but they are all fulfilling. This is must-see TV. Don’t be a dope, start binging Dopesick today!

GENRE: Drama

RUNTIME: 1 hr

RELEASE DATE: October 13, 2021 on Hulu

  • Acting: 10/10
  • Entertainment: 9.5/10
  • Story/Plot: 10/10
  • Impression/Intrigue: 10/10
  • Creativity9/10

“DOPESICK” Score: 97%

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