The opioid epidemic that has plagued the U.S. over the last two decades has been a frequent topic of documentaries (most recently with Alex Gibney’s two-part HBO documentary, The Crime of the Century), but now viewers will get a dramatization of the story with Hulu’s new miniseries, Dopesick.
Based on journalist Beth Macy’s book, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug That Addicted America, Danny Strong has created an eight-episode miniseries that dives into many of the different elements of the opioid epidemic, from the those addicted to the bigwig executives that pushed it, enlisting an all-star ensemble to tell the story. A quartet of directors worked on the series, including Oscar-winner Barry Levinson, Michael Cuesta, Patricia Riggen and Strong.
Here is everything that we know about Dopesick.
What is the plot of ‘Dopesick’?
Dopesick chronicles the far reaching impact of the opioid epidemic. Among the specific focuses of the miniseries will be Richard Sackler, who was the head of Purdue Pharma when OxyContin was developed; a rural doctor who is introduced to the drug and begins prescribing it to help the coal mine workers in his town, including a young woman; as well as a DEA agent and prosecutor’s pursuit for justice against those responsible for the drug.
Here is the official synopsis for the first episode of Dopesick, which is titled “First Bottle”:
“Richard Sackler begins to launch a powerful new painkiller, a rural doctor is introduced to the drug, a coal miner plans her future, a DEA agent learns of black market pills and federal prosecutors decide to open a case into OxyContin.”
Who is in the ‘Dopesick’ cast?
Dopesick features an impressive ensemble of actors to tell this epic story, headlined by Michael Keaton, Rosario Dawson, Michael Stuhlbarg, Kaitlyn Dever, Will Poulter and Peter Sarsgaard.
Keaton portrays Dr. Samuel Finnix, a fictional character who represents many doctors that began prescribing OxyContin to their patients as they thought it was a less addictive painkiller. Finnix is a doctor in the small Virginia mining town where the series spends a lot of time. He is a trusted member of the community, which makes the impending damage the drug does even more painful for him.
Another member of that community is Betsy Mallum, played by Kaitlyn Dever, a young miner in the town who is prescribed OxyContin by Dr. Finnix. Betsy will give viewers a first-hand look into just what addiction to OxyContin looks like.
Michael Stuhlbarg plays the big-bad of the series, Richard Sackler, the former head of Purdue Pharma. Will Poulter and Phillipa Soo, meanwhile, play Purdue reps who are responsible for selling the drug.
On the law enforcement side, Rosario Dawson plays DEA agent Bridget Meyer, while Peter Sarsgaard and John Hoogenakker play U.S. Attorneys Rick Mountcastle and Randy Ramseyer, who are on a mission to investigate and take down those responsible for the opioid epidemic.
Also appearing in all episodes of Dopesick are Jake McDorman as John Brownlee and Will Chase as Michael Friedman.
When is the ‘Dopesick’ release date?
Dopesick debuts on Hulu on Wednesday, Oct. 13. The streaming service will release the first three episodes of Dopesick on Oct. 13, which are titled “First Bottle,” “Breakthrough Pain” and “The 5th Vital Sign.”
Following this initial three episode binge, Hulu will then release a single episode each Wednesday for the remaining five episodes. This will make the final episode of Dopesick available as of Nov. 17.
Dopesick is set to premiere in the U.K. on Nov. 12 on Star on Disney Plus.
Are there ‘Dopesick’ reviews?
The word is in on Dopesick (at the very least its first three episodes), with most championing it as an engrossing, epic telling of the epidemic. Special mentions have also been given to both Michael Keaton and Kaitlyn Dever.
What to Watch’s Emma Fraser shared her first thoughts on Dopesick, praising the show’s depth in covering both the machinations of Purdue and the wide-ranging impact of the pandemic, saying the series is all the more richer for the breadth it undertakes.
Currently, Dopesick has an 82% positive score on Rotten Tomatoes, while Metacritic scores it at a 69.
Is there a ‘Dopesick’ trailer?
Hulu released its official trailer for Dopesick a few weeks ago. Check it out in full below.
How to watch ‘Dopesick’
Dopesick is a Hulu series (in the U.S., in the U.K. it is premiering on Disney Plus), meaning that you will need a subscription to the streaming service in order to watch it.
There are a handful of options as far as getting a Hulu subscription. The first is simply signing up for the standalone Hulu service. There are two choices with this, a $6.99 ad-supported Hulu subscription and a $12.99 ad-free subscription. There are additional add ons available with either of these subscriptions (i.e. premium channels like HBO or Showtime, unlimited screens, DVR capacity), but you won’t need any of those to watch Dopesick.
Another option is Hulu with Live TV. This plan not only gives you all the original and archival content that the standalone service Hulu offers, but it also allows consumers to watch live TV from local and cable channels, including live sports. Hulu with Live TV is priced at $64.99 per month.
The third option is a bundling option that is offered by Disney, which owns Hulu. The bundle combines Hulu with Disney Plus and ESPN Plus for a single monthly fee of $13.99.
Whichever option you choose, Hulu can be viewed on Android phones, tablets and select TV models; Apple TV (fourth generation or later); Google Chromecast; Echo Show; Amazon Fire tablets; Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick; iPhones and iPads; LG TVs; Nintendo Switch; Mac and PCs; PlayStation; Roku; Samsung TVs; Vizio SmartCast TVs; Xbox; Xfinity Flex Streaming TV box and Xfinity X1 TV boxes.
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Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.