News, information and random commentary by author Blake Nelson
Saturday, January 23, 2016
By Samantha White
Review of RECOVERY ROAD Season 1
Due to its subject matter, which deals very plainly with drug/alcohol abuse and the struggles one faces throughout the initial stages of recovery, Recovery Road is already set apart from other television shows aimed at teens. It’s certainly not the first teen show to deal with alcohol and drug abuse – “Very Special Episodes” have covered this ground since the ’90s. Nor is it the first to see its leading lady through this fight – The O.C’s Marissa Cooper was social chair by day, and passed out by night.
However, while other shows have confronted addiction in a fairly one-dimensional manner, treating an overdose as a speed-bump or portraying all addicts as strung-out skeletons with bad teeth, Recovery Road aims to paint a complex picture of what it’s like to struggle with this disease, and to provide a more realistic idea of what an addict can look like.
Maddie isn’t shooting heroin or suffering from massive withdrawal, but she has licked cocaine off of a bathroom floor before, and that’s the kind of behavior that crosses the line between fun and full-on dangerous. On Recovery Road, addicts come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their paths to sobriety, helping to demonstrate to young viewers that addiction is deeply complicated, rather than reserved merely for those who are “Bad” or weak.
That being said, the show definitely has a tendency toward preachy and overdramatic qualities. One of the pilot’s weakest moments comes toward the end of the episode, when a patient who has just completed his time at Springtime relapses and returns to wreak havoc on the house. Vases are broken, the lighting is dimmed, and the music stings, as Maddie is given a look at what her life could be like if she doesn’t get clean. It’s a big moment with an After-School Special quality that looks down to its teen audience and undermines the more subtle portrayals of addiction and relapse featured on the show.
If the first few episodes are any indication, Recovery Road is a solid drama grounded firmly in the teen genre, borrowing just enough from its predecessors to achieve a comfortable familiarity. Its identity pertaining to said genre seems to be Recovery Road’s downfall at points – the episodes can feel sentimental and neutered, despite attempts to portray addiction in a multifaceted manner. However, with its quick dialogue and fully realized main character, Recovery Road just might flourish into a series that transcends its early trappings.