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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Recovery Road is a drama about Maddie, a high schooler who is sent to a sober-living facility with a group of other young adults. This underage character drinks shots and from a liquor bottle, smokes cigarettes, snorts cocaine, and smokes marijuana on-screen before landing in rehab. There are minor references to sex: The main character is a "virgin by choice." A girl has dreams of her father, who died in a car accident; his injuries are visible in the dreams. Cursing ("ass," "hell") and vulgar expressions ("you got screwed") are infrequent. Characters relate personal problems such as losing custody of their kids through drug abuse; some characters relapse and are seen on-screen high and/or drunk. Family is present and caring; the sober facility Maddie inhabits is supportive and helpful, with effective leadership.
What's the story?
When teenage Maddie Graham (Jessica Sula) wakes up on the lawn after a long, drunken night, she knows something might be wrong. But it's only when school counselor Cynthia McDermott (Alexis Carra) discovers a water bottle filled with vodka in her locker that Maddie and her widowed mom Charlotte (Sharon Leal) are given a tough choice: face expulsion from school or move into a sober-living facility for 90 days to start down RECOVERY ROAD. At first, Maggie believes she doesn't belong in Springtime Meadows with the colorful group of addicts she meets and joins in therapy. But as the days pass and she begins to know her fellow residents, she realizes her drug and alcohol use was just covering up the pain she feels inside. It's a long road to healthy sobriety. But Maddie's already taken the first step.
Is it any good?
Teen-alcoholic redemption tales were 1970s-afterschool-special staples, but this wise, realistic drama is too smart to try to wrap up its main character's issues in a two-hour-with-commercials movie. Maddie is a wonderfully complex character -- by turns snotty and sweet, with a veneer of irony and detachment only thinly masking the pain underneath. As the audience slowly gets to know her and the other residents of Springtime Meadows, we begin to understand the mistakes they made (sometimes repeatedly) to land themselves there, as well as the problems that are holding them back. Maddie soon understands that even if she and the other residents have very different experiences and backgrounds, they share similar pains. As they pull together to repair their shattered lives, Maddie finds that there are other ways of dealing with loss and pain than drowning them in chemicals, and even if she or her loved ones make mistakes, there is a community waiting to support her. Recovery Road is a very human drama that's terrific whole-family fare, particularly for families with members who struggle with substance abuse.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Recovery Road's setting, a sober-living facility. Is this a real type of facility? Do people actually go through the process depicted on-screen? Do you know anyone who's been to rehab or lived in a halfway house or sober house?
Is the audience supposed to believe Maddie is an addict? What details does the story supply to explain her substance-abuse problems? How do these visual clues conflict with what Maddie says about the way she uses drugs and alcohol?
Reality shows in which people with addictions grapple with their problems are common on television. How is Recovery Road different from these shows? How is it similar?
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