Freeform has taken on hot topics before, like same-sex parents (The Fosters), class (Switched at Birth), and teen pregnancy (The Secret Life of the American Teenager – which launched Shailene Woodley to worldwide stardom via the Divergent series), and now they are taking on teen drug abuse and addiction with Recovery Road.
Our main point of focus is Maddie (Jessica Sula), a pretty, sassy 17-year-old who loves to party, if by “party” you mean get-blacked-out-and-forget-where-she-put-her-car. After Maddie’s guidance counselor (Alexis Carra) checks her locker, she finds a water bottle filled with vodka, and Maddie soon has to choose between expulsion or 90 days in an addiction treatment facility.
Maddie reluctantly picks the treatment facility, which she can leave only to go to school, where she is watched like a hawk. And because the teen facility is far from home and school, she is placed in an adult facility, which provides a much different atmosphere and supporting cast than she would’ve probably gotten at the teen house.
Recovery Road’s supporting cast is made up of housemates at Springtime Meadows, some of whom we can guess will be more prominent in Maddie’s story because of the casting. I was excited to see Daniel Franzese was part of the cast, for example, and his purpose seems to be slightly similar to that of his role in Mean Girls: comedic relief, which is absolutely necessary in such a heavy show. Another familiar face in the crowd is Maddie’s roommate Trish, played by Kyla Pratt (Dr. Doolittle, Proud Family), who provides a lightheartedness to the house, despite having been addicted to meth and her baby girl being taken away. We also meet Maddie’s love interest Wes (Sebastian De Souza) and my first thought was, “She’s 17, and if he’s a repeat visitor to the adult facility he’s definitely older than 17, which makes this relationship illegal.” But that’s never stopped Freeform from encouraging those relationships before (Pretty Little Liars, anyone?).
In keeping with Freeform house style, the big story bombs dropped in our lap at the end of each episode. I’ve only watched the first episode – although the first three are available on-demand now! – and we’ve already learned Maddie’s father was killed by a drunk driver, her mother Charlotte is also a recovering addict, and that Charlotte and Cynthia (the guidance counselor) are not only good friends, but Charlotte tipped Cynthia off about the vodka in Maddie’s locker. It’s probably safe to assume this show will be full of drama and average acting with a certain addictive quality (pun intended) that keeps us coming back to see where Maddie’s recovery takes her.