Hulu’s Dopesick is a disturbing look into Big Pharma’s seduction of the U.S. zeitgeist

CW: Addiction, drug use

It had been whispered about years prior to Sarah O’Connor’s 2018 article for The Financial Times regarding her article, “Left behind: can anyone save the towns the economy forgot?” Based off of O’Connor’s experiences in the bereft coastal city of Blackpool, England, the article distilled into the cultural zeitgeist the terminology of, “Shit Life Syndrome.” 

What is, “Shit Life Syndrome”? The hamster wheel of poverty which plagues, not only the severely suffering rural areas of the United States and United Kingdom, but also the middle-class. However, by the time this sentence is complete, another billionaire would have earned 98.7 percent more in a lifetime than the average blue-collar worker. 

Hulu’s adaptation of Beth Macy’s journalistic crusade against the opioid epidemic in the U.S. is a grotesque funhouse mirror of addiction bred at the cost of capitalist greed. It’s a thoroughly unnerving examination of the boundlessness the 1% will go through to make a billion dollars in day.

Dopesick illustrates how parasitic pharmaceutical reps were indoctrinated and sent out to rural areas, areas rife with injuries from work such as farming, plumbing, and mining. Preying upon a small-town practice, newly recruited Billy Cutler (played insidiously by Will Poulter of Midsommar), persuades the Capra-esque hero of a coal-mining town, Dr. Samuel Finnix (Michael Keaton in yet another role that highlights his incredible acting depth), to start pushing a magical narcotic that enigmatically evades the FDA’s usual damning of an addictive drug. 

In a somewhat Lynchian fashion, Dr. Finnix watches as each of his patients succumb to addiction, and ultimately, death. All the while, the Draconian wheels of Corporate America and Big Pharma grind against the ephemeral nature of human life, grinding it into nothingness. 

Bureaucratic red-tape and semantics are involved in one of the most disturbing, mind-boggling packaging labels of all time. This egregious labeling of one of the deadliest drugs in our nation’s history ultimately leaves a grotesque amount of casualties to its detriment, all while sailing for years under the Federal and Healthcare radar. Why were such private sectors that represent themselves on a public scale left so unregulated? And what does this mean for the future of these countries as well as their incestuous relations to our nation? How can our justice system be so blind to disgusting corruption? 

All the while, as a viewer, one is left to wonder: what is human life worth if it’s decimated at the price of a billionaire’s fancy? 

Dopesick is available to stream on Hulu. 

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