Winter arts guide

TV Critic’s Corner

Showtime series follows the opioid crisis from its roots

“The Trade,” a five-episode series, looks at the drug crisis from many perspectives.
Our Time Projects/Showtime
“The Trade,” a five-episode series, looks at the drug crisis from many perspectives.

There have been a number of powerful documentaries about the opioid crisis in recent years, including “Warning: This Drug May Kill You,” “Heroin(e),” “Frontline: Chasing Heroin,” and “Heroin: Cape Cod, USA.” And, sadly, there will probably be many more. It’s a problem that’s not going away easily.

Beginning Friday night at 9, Showtime is premiering what promises to be a strong and epic contribution to the canon. It’s a five-episode series called “The Trade” that looks at the crisis from the perspective of all the different people and factions directly involved in it — the growers, the consumers, the cartel bosses, and the cops. It’s directed by Matthew Heineman, who was nominated for an Oscar and won three Emmys for his 2015 film “Cartel Land” and who is known for his access and his ability to put sensitive situations on the record.

Heineman goes to Mexico, to follow the head of a poppy empire and the poor villagers who place their hope in him. He looks at the police war against the distribution of heroin in Columbus, Ohio, following overwhelmed police officers as they make busts. And he introduces us to individuals whose lives have been wrecked by drugs, not just addicts but members of their families. Sounds like there’s no shortage of heartbreak.

Advertisement

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.