The opening monologue given by Michael Stuhlbarg’s character Richard Sackler in Hulu's latest mini series DOPESICK hovers sharply on the twisted notion that he can cure pain with an addictive narcotic known as Oxycontin. Spoiler alert! You can't. It has made my stomach twist in ways I never thought possible. Pure evil. Sinister. These slick suit wearing yuckos make me want to projectile vomit on their lavish arrogance which inherently makes them turn the world upside down. A simple lie upends every system that's used to safeguard people from harm and at every single turn, it freaking fails. Just writing this now makes me want to quietly throw a chair across the room. People shouldn't be allowed to do this. As the great philosopher Bonnie Tyler once sang, “Where’s the streetwise Hercules to fight the rising odds?”
Based on the nonfiction book, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America written by Beth Macy has been adapted into a miniseries by Danny Strong for Hulu, which has only released four of an eight episode series, so I can’t give a full review just yet, but watching this has infuriated me, because when you witness a big bully on the playground beat up a kid for having a stutter or a new toy, similarly to a powerful force take advantage of someone’s trust for their own personal gain, how can you not scream in frustration?
“I would never prescribe a narcotic for moderate use” says one the characters in the show, and yet somehow these evil shitbags of a horrendous company called Purdue Pharma with zero soul markets a “Blockbuster drug” to the masses. So the heroes in this David and Goliath tale include a DEA agent and two attorneys from a small mining town of Virginia, who are fighting like hell to protect their community because the ongoing pattern to their case load has a glaring yet consistent anomaly. Why has crime risen? Why are jails full? Why are people now locking their doors? Why have foster homes tripled? Why does the FDA blatantly lie about Oxycontin being addictive? I don’t necessarily believe one can live a painless life, because if that were true we’d all be striving for such a unicorn. Pain is not fully curable whether it’s physical or mental, but there are ways to manage it and cohabitate with it without succumbing to death. It’s hard but so is everything in life.
Even though we’re at the half way point of DOPESICK’S storyline, we have two DA’s Rick and Randy (Peter Sarsgaard and John Hoogenakker) and one DEA agent Bridget (Rosario Dawson) fighting the same fight and they come together to the table sharing similar notes based off their varying different fields of work. Then you have the small town mining community that’s being held hostage as trusting victims to a doctor, named Dr. Samuel Finnix played by Michael Keaton who’s being hoodwinked by the Purdue Pharma company who’s lassoing the Oxycontin noose around his neck by using every trick in the book which is facilitated by these nasty, pesky, fleas known as drug reps. One of the characters in particular is a young money starved 20 something drug rep named Billy (Will Poulter). These marketing bastards go as far as to hire a video production company to create a PSA and later end up finessing it be a promotional video to sell more doctors on its blatant, bold-faced, lie that Oxycontin is less than 1% addictive. And everyone is reading from the same idiotic script.
This chain reaction is nauseating because everyone is a pawn in an elaborate game that’s feeding a private company more wealth than it deserves, and for what? Power? Prestige? Wealth? Triumph? Immortality? Take your pick. It’s a sinister yuck yuck for humanity. And the main villain in this tragedy is Richard Sackler (Michael Stuhlbarg) who has the sickest audacity and demeanor in his performance so spine-chillingly familiar to Marlon Brando’s Don Vito Corleone from THE GODFATHER. It’s his stillness and quiet ignorant self assertiveness whispering a faint command to his group of fiscal addicted cronies to charge into a battle, the war on pain which inadverently is like creating the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Rude. Let’s introduce a drug more powerful than morphine and turn everyone into zombies and if they get addicted, then it’s their own fault for being addicts. Just cure the pain away by upping the dosage. Who the hell cares about side effects. The gall on these narcissistic sociopaths!
And once America is completely conquered and hypnotized, then let's focus on the bigger picture; global domination. By episode three Richard Sackler decides it’s time to crack into the German market, because if he can crack that country it will open the floodgates to all of Europe. Brazen! But also by this point, the small community in Virginia where Dr. Finnix treats most of the miners, is starting to unravel and you know based on the look in his eyes, his gut is telling him that up’ing the dosage feels wrong. His conscience knows better, because he’s starting to tell his patients to taper off, of course when Billy, the pesty drug rep from hell hears of this, he gently nudges him to go against such action and to just up the dosage. This is what drives me absolutely bananas. How and why can a drug rep with adamant confidence hold the upper hand in coaxing a doctor!? A doctor who goes to medical school for a decade, treats patients, and knows the human body like the back of his hand to just go with it? This has got to be along the lines of verbiage cults use to recruit members or multi-level marketing companies AKA pyramid schemes utilize to establish dominance and control. In fact, when certain doctors and pharmacies decide not to continue drinking the KoolAid, they’re threatened. Threatened! I need to go lie down and pet a kitten. Stay tuned for part two. You can catch up on watching DOPESICK on Wednesdays on Hulu. Check it out!