Will Maddie & Wes Get Together On 'Recovery Road'? The Executive Producers Tease Romance & Drama Ahead
Many critically acclaimed series from Orange Is The New Black to Breaking Bad have depicted characters struggling with substance abuse, and Freeform's new series Recovery Road also features characters battling addiction. But, while the trope is there, you likely haven't seen a series tackle addiction in quite this way. Recovery Road is based on Blake Nelson's YA novel of the same name, and the series was adapted for television by executive producers Karen DiConcetto and Bert V. Royal who recently spoke to Bustle about the series and what fans can expect in the episodes to come.
The show, which expands upon the earlier chapters in the novel, follows bright, hard-partying teen Maddie (Jessica Sula) after she is sentenced to 30 days in a sober living facility to battle an addiction that — if you asked Maddie — she doesn't even have. Despite Maddie's initial reluctance, there's clearly a lot for Maddie to learn on her own "recovery road" — and the series is only getting started. "Like any process, the recovery process has so many ups and downs. You have two steps forwards and then two steps back, and that's what we were excited to explore," DiConcetto tells Bustle.
In Maddie's case, recovery is a bit of a rollercoaster — temptation is always right around the corner. So far, living in the sober house has allowed Maddie to stay just that — sober. But, is she officially done with all illicit activities? "We went into this with the idea that she was never going to touch another substance," says Royal of Maddie's journey. However, while Maddie is sober now, Royal teases that things may change for the show's protagonist: "I'm not going to tell you if we were able to sustain that."
Though Maddie doesn't believe (at least, not yet) that she has a serious problem with drugs and alcohol, there is a moment in the first three episodes that allows her to see how her substance abuse has affected her life in a negative way. Though Maddie is a virgin ("by choice," as she declares in the pilot), her mother finds a condom in her car from a night when Maddie blacked out from drinking. Maddie learning that she could have had sex (or, as the show points out, due to her inability to consent, could have been sexually assaulted) while under the influence causes her to break down.
"The condom ended up becoming one of the more fascinating puzzles for us and the other writers of the show ... We thought, what a horrible thing to go through, but it's a real thing, to black out and not remember certain things," says Royal of Maddie's struggle. "We kind of park the storyline for a while, but yes, we do come back to it. We're moving towards that there will be an answer [to where it came from.]"
Though Recovery Road is a story of Maddie's journey, living in a sober facility means that she's not alone in dealing with addiction: "We very much wanted to focus not just on Maddie, but on everyone else in the house [and how] they got there and stay sober," says DiConcetto. "We wanted to show people in various stages of recovery. Vern, [played by Mean Girls star Daniel Franzese] for example, has been sober for many years."
Other outpatients in the facility include Trish (Kyla Pratt), a recovering meth addict who dreams of getting her daughter back and starring on a reality show. Trish provides a great deal of comic relief on the series, but the writers suggest that her arc may get a bit darker in future episodes:
"We play with [Pratt's] boundaries a lot," Royal says. "[Pratt] will surprise you with her performance, but also the character has a lot of things to be revealed... When we found out early on what she was capable of, let's just say we pushed her to a lot of limits."
And, if there's one other person that fans are curious about, it's Maddie's potential love interest, Wes, another member of the group home deeply committed to sobriety. In Nelson's novel, Wes is called "Stewart" (according to IMDb, "Stewart" is Wes' last name on the show) and he and Maddie fall into an intense relationship. The chemistry between TV show Wes and Maddie, who are just starting to know one another, is palpable, but fans may have to wait for a big romantic moment. "I think there's a slow burn [with Wes and Maddie.] They both know that this shouldn't happen, that this can't happen, so we really wanted to be true to that and what those obstacles are," says DiConcetto. Royal, however, does hint that fans have one thing to look forward to: "Prepare for a lot of flirting."
But, Royal also teases a "big heartbreak" for another couple that is coming in the next 10 episodes of the series. Though he stayed quiet on which character it would directly effect, he did hint that we would see this breakup through the lens of recovery: "How this [recovering] person deals with a breakup is very different."
And, when dealing with the sensitive topics that this show addresses, there are bound to be a lot of opinions on how the subject matter is handled. But, so far Royal and DiConcetto have been pleased with the feedback they have received about the show — and that includes the criticism, says Royal.
There are a lot of things about the recovery world that we're obviously learning. The biggest thing that I've learned is that everybody's story is different. A few of the [response articles] that we've read about the show will say things like, "Well, that's not really what [recovery] is like," and [our response] is that, well, that's not really what it was like for you. Everyone has a different story, and... we've heard [a lot of stories]... some of them are terrifying, some of them are hysterical, and some of them are heartbreakingly sad. It is a world of emotion, sobriety and getting sober.
Tune into Recovery Road Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Freeform. And, check out the first episode of the series below to get caught up on the action: