This review contains spoilers for the first season of Recovery Road.
Recovery Road S1 | Starring: Jessica Sula, Sebastian De Souza, Alexis Carra, David Witts, Sharon Leal, Daniel Franzese, Kyla Pratt, Emma Fassler, Paula Jai Parker
Recovery Road isn’t a show I would normally watch, but I did a series premiere review for our Or Nah feature and decided to stick with it.
I’m glad I did.
17-year-old Maddie Graham’s journey through recovery for alcohol and drug addiction was, at times, a little unbelievable. Are young adults really placed into in-house treatment centers after their school counselor finds vodka in their locker (and doesn’t tell any other school official)? Probably not. But the season-long scenario wasn’t too hard to swallow thanks to a solid cast, led by the charismatic and gorgeous, Jessica Sula as Maddie.
Maddie is headstrong, a habitual liar, and spiraling out of control since the death of her father. Predictably she doesn’t take to her new environment right away, even refusing to admit that she has an addiction. The recovery house is filled with mostly seasoned recovering addicts including Maddie’s ex-best friend, Rebecca (Lindsay Pearce. Further drama brews when Maddie finds herself drawn to housemate, Wes (Sebastian De Souza) – despite the fact that she has a boyfriend and such a relationship is against house rules.
Maddie spends the majority of the season struggling to follow the steps to recovery while keeping her new living arrangement a secret from her friends at school. The series also spends time exploring Maddie’s mother, Charlotte’s (Sharon Leal) attempts to understand how her daughter got to this place and to take responsibility for her part in Maddie’s behavior. There’s also a great subplot where Charlotte has to learn how to adjust to being the loved one of an addict.
For the most part, the cast is highly likable with only one character standing out as problematic: Maddie’s counselor, Cynthia (Alexis Carra). She’s incredibly tone deaf and a hypocrite, but she’s also a recovering addict and later recognizes her destructive ways as a symptom. Maybe so, but she was still so.hard.to.watch.
As you’d imagine from the subject matter of addiction, the series tackles some pretty grim topics like cutting, relapse, and blacking out and unable to give sexual consent.
One of the best surprises about Recovery Road was how it also took time to develop not just the characters living in the treatment house, but also the friends Maddie can’t bear to be honest with. I appreciate that they took the time to flesh them out to be more than just party kids. When they did, the series displayed some of the best acting, particularly by Haley Lu Richardson as Elle.
By the end of the season’s ten episodes, Maddie is in a slightly better place recovery wise, but the same can’t be said for all of the characters, and it’s enough to guarantee I’ll be back for season two.
Recovery Road S1 = 8/10