Patrick Melrose, a nuanced portrait of addiction

Lucinda Smyth at Prospect Magazine:

What’s especially impressive about this adaptation is not only that it is enjoyable, but that it directly confronts the problem of addiction without glamorising it. Other dramas about womanising addicts—for example Mad Men or Californication—tend to focus on the debauchery as much as the interior consequences; this makes it easy for the viewer to avoid processing the trauma. Watching Mad Men’s Don Draper pour himself yet another glass of whiskey, having hit yet another rock bottom, doesn’t quell the desire (provoked by the sexy depiction of the world of the programme) to reach for a cigarette and a whiskey yourself. Even in Channel 4’s Sherlock, the detective’s opium habit is seen as a facet of his genius: a necessary method for him to open the doors of perception. There is something beguiling and (literally) intoxicating about watching someone dance so close to the cliff edge. Indulging this behaviour onscreen can make it seem attractive rather than repellent.

more here.