By Matt Cabral,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Drug epidemic drama has language, mature subject matter.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Strong focus on teamwork, overcoming obstacles to do what's right, and helping others.
Positive Role Models
Main protagonists make personal sacrifices and work together -- despite their differences -- to fight for justice and help those in need.
A primary character is a Black female DEA agent who displays bravery, leadership, compassion, and perseverance. The series also explores mixed marriages/relationships.
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Violence & Scariness
A character is badly hurt in a mining accident. Drug overdoses are referenced. A drug raid, with armed law enforcement, is shown.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two young women, while clothed, kiss intimately and appear to have sex. A teen girl offers a man sex for money. Women, in their underwear, work in an illegal drug-making facility. The phrase "sleep with him" is used.
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Frequent use of "f--k." "Bulls--t," "p---y," "d--kless," "hell," "sucks," "balls," "bitch," and "blow job." Homophobic slurs, including "lesbo" and "f-g."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Focus of series is on drugs (illegal and prescription), opioids, drug abuse, drug addiction, dealing drugs, drug overdoses. Several scenes of social drinking, including two young girls sharing whiskey.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dopesick is a mature drama series about America's opioid epidemic. It dives deep into drug abuse and addiction (including overdose deaths) and the devastating physical and emotional impact OxyContin has had on the country. In addition to the numerous, regular references to drugs, the series also contains social drinking.
Language includes frequent use of "f--k," plus "bulls--t," "p---y," "d--kless," "hell," "sucks," "balls," "bitch," and "blow job." Homophobic slurs, including "lesbo" and "f-g," are used. Two women are sexually intimate, but no nudity is shown. Teen prostitution is referenced, and women in their underwear work in an illegal drug facility. Armed law enforcement perform a drug raid. The series features a number of characters, including a Black female DEA agent, who make sacrifices and overcome obstacles to bring the drug company to justice and help those affected by the epidemic.
Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
Based on the nonfiction book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy, DOPESICK is a deep dive into the OxyContin epidemic. It tells its story from a number of perspectives, including some fictional characters, like a small-town doctor (Michael Keaton) and his addicted patient (Kaitlyn Dever), as well as a drug sales rep (Will Poulter). Some real-life players, such as Richard Sackler (Michael Stuhlbarg), the head of the wealthy family company Purdue Pharma -- that created OxyContin -- also have prominent roles. Much of the narrative is explored through the work of real-life U.S. attorney Rick Mountcastle (Peter Sarsgaard) and a fictional DEA agent (Rosario Dawson) who both work tirelessly to bring the Sacklers to justice.
Is It Any Good?
If you're craving a fun, lighthearted binge, this deep, layered look into America's opioid crisis certainly isn't it. While Dopesick isn't an easy watch, though, it's a wholly engrossing one you'll be compelled to stick with from start to finish.
It helps that the heavy subject matter isn't hoisted upon a single character or storyline, but rather spread across a number of narrative perspectives. An absolutely stellar cast digs into every angle of the epidemic, from OxyContin's ground zero victim and the doctor who's willingly entwined in her struggle to the crusading, do-gooding attorneys and the evil big pharma family they're trying to take down. The series' timeline can get a bit jumbled, as it hops from 1986 to 2005 -- with plenty of stops in the intervening years -- to cover everything from the drug's creation to the ultimate judgment of its makers. But if you can keep up with its constantly moving calendar, and are prepared for some very serious, often sad drama, Dopesick is a must-watch that's worth the tears.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about series based on true stories. Do you find fact-based shows more or less interesting? What sort of liberties do these series take with the subject matter to make them more entertaining?
What perspectives do the series' various characters represent? Who would you consider to be the heroes? Who are the villains in the story?
Does the series feel educational? Did it teach you anything you didn't already know? Is it more fun to learn about a serious subject through a TV series?
- Premiere date: October 13, 2021
- Cast: Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, Rosario Dawson, Michael Stuhlbarg, Kaitlyn Dever
- Network: Hulu
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, History
- Character Strengths: Communication, Compassion, Empathy, Perseverance, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: June 13, 2022
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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