The problematic backdrop of the opioid crisis
So I think it's fair to say that all of us at Killer Casting are enjoying the HBO Max limited series, "Mare of Easttown." Even with a group of jaded (Full disclosure...this is Brian writing, so maybe it's only me who is jaded) television viewers, the characters, the authenticity of the environment and the story itself make for a compelling television experience.
The one complaint voiced has been the use of the opioid crisis as a storyline/backdrop for the show. Ok...so it's really just the contrarian (Brian again...guilty as charged) who has a problem with it. The first episode feels very ham handed as it efforts to deal with a Bethy's brother's addiction and the impact it has on her and her family. Much more effective is the flashback scene (which happens in episode four) with Mare and her recently deceased son and his girlfriend violently robbing her in order to buy drugs.
As a procedural, it is a fantastic piece of storytelling. The additional layer of how addiction has affected this town, though, does little to shine a light on the opioid crisis. It's too busy using it as a convention or a plot point and that feels exploitive to me.
The opioid crisis is an epidemic that has affected every corner of the country, but fewer spots have been hit harder than the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia. HBO Max premiered a documentary series within the last week or so that does the crisis, and its impact, justice.
Academy Award winning director, Alex Gibney, brings his muscular storytelling skills to bear with "Crime of the Century." It is the tale of how the pharmaceutical companies marketed and overprescribed dangerous opioids to maximize profits starting in the mid-90's. There are several villains to the story: the Sackler family and Purdue Pharamaceuticals, the distribution companies that were complicit in large scale fraud, the government that turned a blind eye and in many cases gave protection to these large companies. It is an important documentary and one that will enrage you, so be warned.
Hollywood entertainment can't capture certain stories in an authentic way, not like a documentary can. Don't believe me? Look for the scene at the end of the second episode where a former DEA agent plays the 911 call of a mother who has discovered that her child is dead from an overdose. The scream of anguish and despair is like nothing that I have ever heard.