Monday, August 22, 2022

Emmy Catch-Up: Dopesick (Series Finale)

Dopesick: Season 1, Episode 8 “The People vs. Purdue Pharma” (B+)

I think any disappointment I found in this finale, which is Emmy-nominated for both its writing and directing, is that things never culminated in the way they should because that’s not how history went. Getting a few important people to take the fall and the company to pay out a huge settlements were the best wins they could have hoped for, and seeing the protests in 2019 with people declaring “Shame on Sackler” and demanding that the name be taken off buildings and other institutions was powerful. It was also upsetting to see Billy called into a room to be let go and pressured into signing an NDA so that he could get a severance package or forfeit any compensation or legal protection on the spot if he refused to do so. Fortunately, he made the right choice, but that was surely just one instance of a high-pressure technique that worked all too well to intimidate people into submission. Hearing all of the charges that John, Rick, and Randy were ready to file showed the scope of all this and how there were so many issues with what Purdue was doing regularly. This episode is Peter Sarsgaard’s Emmy submission, and while he does do fine work, I think he’s pretty consistent across the whole series and could have chosen any installment. I do think, in addition to supporting actress Kaitlyn Dever, who played Betsy, and lead actor Michael Keaton, who played Samuel, both of whom have been collecting prizes and are likely to win Emmy too, Will Poulter would be my choice from the supporting actor field for his portrayal of Billy. This show is both very well-done and highly informative, and it’s ultimately just a shame that it had to be made given the horrible history it recreates.

Series grade: A-
Series MVP: Kaitlyn Dever as Betsy

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