Don't Expect Recovery Road to Be 'an Afterschool Special' as It Takes on Addiction With Edgy Humor

Damian Holbrook
recovery road
ABC Family

Sober doesn’t mean somber in Recovery Road, an engaging new drama based on Blake Nelson’s young-adult novel about a troubled teen coming to grips with her substance-abuse problem. “It was very important to us that the show didn’t feel like an afterschool special,” says executive producer Bert V. Royal, who previously nailed youth gone wild in his script for the Emma Stone comedy Easy A. “One of the things we know about the addiction community is that recovery can bring out a dark sense of humor in people when they get some clarity and finally see the mistakes they’ve made. So we wanted to capture that newfound sense of humor that people in sobriety can have.”

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But first, addicts must hit bottom, and that’s where we find Maddie Graham (Jessica Sula, above right) as the series opens. A boozy party girl prone to blackouts and bald-faced lies, Maddie is ordered into a sober-living facility after being confronted by her mom (Sharon Leal) and high school counselor (Alexis Carra). None too pleased with the arrangement at first, Maddie will begin to “learn something new about herself and her struggles when she meets people [in the house] with similar issues,” executive producer Karen DiConcetto says.

And while there is fun to be had within the house—other residents include a spirited meth head (Kyla Pratt) and a flamboyant alcoholic (Daniel Franzese)—all of the horror of addiction’s grim consequences looms large. “I don’t think there is anyone in the world who can say they haven’t been touched in some way by addiction, be it a friend, a family member or themselves, so we couldn’t do a light, PG-rated version of it,” Royal says. “And to the network’s credit, they have been fantastic about letting us push [boundaries] and encouraging us to [go] further.”

Recovery Road, Series premiere, Monday, Jan. 25, 9/8c, Freeform

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