Pill Happy

Margot Carmichael Lester

November 16, 2021

Hulu’s new series, Dopesick, reteams Checco Varese, ASC, and Director Patricia Riggen for a searing look inside America’s opioid crisis.

Some projects you do for reasons beyond the paycheck. Some projects you do because you must do them. Because the story is too important not to tell. Because the story is so vast and far-reaching that it begs for context so that people can focus on how we got here and realize the injustice and avoidability of it all. Some projects force you to take them to bear witness.

Hulu’s Dopesick was one of those projects for the creative team of Director of Photography Checco Varese, ASC, and Director Patricia Riggen, whose previous socially themed project, The 33, on the Chilean mine disaster, was an ICG Magazine cover story. [ICG Magazine November 2015]

“Obviously we [make films and TV] so we can send our kids to college,” Peruvian-born Varese explains, “but this one was truly a work of love and a story that had to be told. It’s important to shoot projects that are challenging to the common knowledge of humanity. That’s what we did with Dopesick.”

Hulu’s new limited series, which chronicles the rise of the opioid epidemic via the over-prescription of OxyContin (oxycodone hydrochloride), contextualizes the resulting tragedy as a unique product of American greed and capitalism. It was inspired by Beth Macy’s The New York Times bestselling book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America. Macy is an executive producer along with Danny Strong, Barry Levinson, and series star Michael Keaton, among others.