How to Fix a Drug Scandal premiered on Netflix April 1, and it has told the compelling stories of Sonja Farak and Annie Dookhan. This documentary mini-series follows the stories of these two drug lab chemists, one in Boston and one in Amherst, and how their mistakes led to the wrongful convictions of over 30,000 people.
Throughout the show, audiences see the gritty side of the law and the uglier side of the war on drugs. But there are also some things audiences may have missed on their first viewing. In How to Fix a Drug Scandal, there are some funny moments, surprising details, and shocking facts that are interesting, but hard to catch. Here are 10 things everyone completely missed in Netflix’s How to Fix a Drug Scandal.
10 A Jigsaw Production
This mini docuseries was produced by Jigsaw Productions, the very same production company that worked on the memorable documentaries Citizen K, American Jihad, and Water and Power: A California Heist.
Director Alex Gibney of Jigsaw Productions has been called “one of the most important documentarians of our time” by Esquire, and even The New York Times gave Gibney their praise.
9 Drug Chemists Aren’t A Thing on TV
In the first episode, audiences are revealed a very important fact about television – drug chemists aren’t actually a thing on television. In the documentary, Heather Harris, a forensic chemist, states that drug chemists don’t make for compelling television.
She states “you aren’t going to find a Forensic Files or a CSI: Miami that covers a drug case.” Since most drug chemists spend most of their time testing evidence, it doesn’t make sense to showcase a chemist sitting at a bench, doing their work, when most of the exciting parts are actually catching the criminals.
8 Sonja Farak, Football Star
Sonja Farak, one of the drug chemists put in the spotlight in the documentary, first made headlines when she was the first girl in Rhode Island to play high school football in a public school system! Specifically speaking, she played on the line on offense and defense.
While it’s a small fact said in the documentary mini-series, it’s a mind-boggling one.
7 Shannon O’Neill
In the documentary, an actress plays Sonja Farak for B-roll scenes, and that actress is Shannon O’Neill.
According to IMDb, she’s appeared in HBO’s High Maintenance and will star as Angie in Make America Bake Again, which is currently in production. While she’s gaining traction in the television world, she has much deeper roots in the theater world.
6 It’s A Show About Mental Health
First and foremost, this show is about the utter importance of mental health. Throughout the show, many interviewees state that this isn’t really about a drug problem, it’s about a problem that’s been going on way before drugs came in the picture – mental health.
Since very few people willingly dabble in drugs, it’s more of a question to ask “why is this person using drugs to begin with?” This is even further legitimized when it’s revealed Sonja Farak was dealing with depression since she was 16 years old.
5 “Hi, I’m Mat” Mat
No shot is filmed on accident. In episode 3 of How to Fix a Drug Scandal, there’s a shot of a mat with text that says “Hi, I’m Mat.” In the next shot, it shows the educational diplomas of Matt Segal, Legal Director for ACLU of Massachusetts.
Matt is short for Matthew, and the mat is a play on words of his name. It’s a quick two-shot sequence, but it provides punny humor for those that caught the joke.
4 ACLU and Olivia Wilde
In episode 3, audiences are introduced to the ACLU and its involvement in the case. In one scene, there’s an ACLU poster, and on it is a woman that looks eerily similar to actress and producer, Olivia Wilde.
And surprisingly, it’s actually her! According to the ACLU, she became a voice for the ACLU in 2012, which is right around the time when the Sonja Farak case exploded.
3 It Passes the Bechdel Test
The Bechdel Test is a test that measures the representation of women in fiction. While this series isn’t fiction, it would’ve passed this infamous test if it was. Most of entertainment usually involves male characters or people in some way as the key players of a story, but this documentary shows that that isn’t always the case.
For How to Fix a Drug Scandal, the story is about two women who start the scandals. In addition, the two antagonists of the story were two women – prosecutors who made it impossible for the convicts to be rightfully released from prison. It’s rare for the key players of a story to involve mostly women, but they were in this case.
2 One Of The Largest Mass Dismissals of Criminal Convictions In U.S. History
According to Matt Segal, Legal Director of ACLU of Massachusetts, the justice system is set up to where it is “so easy to hold onto a wrongful conviction and so hard to overcome it.”
Yet, the cases of Sonja Farak and Annie Dookhan became “one of the largest mass dismissals of criminal convictions in United States history.” These simple statements can be easily overlooked, which is why it is important that audiences are aware of the impact that these women had on criminal justice history.
1 Flaw and Order, Mass Exoneration Unit
In the last couple of minutes of the mini-series, there seems to be a reunion at a local Boston restaurant, where many of the key players in the series appear. This is when Matt Segal reveals a T-shirt to commemorate their time on this case.
The T-shirt references the popular television show, Law and Order, but instead of saying Law and Order, it says Flaw and Order, with Mass Exoneration Unit underneath.
NEXT: How To Fix A Drug Scandal True Story: What The Documentary Leaves Out