‘The Fall Of The House Of Usher’ True Story: Is Netflix Series Based On Purdue Pharma Sackler Family?


Mike Flanagan’s The Fall of the House of Usher is inspired by real-life Richard Sackler, combined with a few short stories written by the great Edgar Allan Poe. The concoction presents an intriguing narrative where the character of Roderick, who seems to be an embodiment of the ideologies held by the chairman of Purdue Pharma, believes that just having ambition is not enough, and one has to have that cruelty and wickedness in them to realize their dreams. It’s a very strange combination where we see the grim and gloomy and, at times, uncomfortable and terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe being very artfully amalgamated with the real story of the business tycoon who brought an opioid epidemic to the United States of America. It is story-telling of the highest order, and we believe that Mike Flanagan and his entire team have outdone themselves.

We believe that the opioid epidemic was no less than a horror for the entire American society, and nothing of that sort had ever been seen by the people of the nation. The legal machinery of the state was not fully prepared to deal with such a complex conflict, and for the longest time, nobody had an answer as to how they should initiate proceedings against the Sackler family, as there was nothing that linked them directly to the deaths of hundreds of people, and their legal team capitalized on the loopholes of the system. So, let’s find out what the similarities are between the Usher and the Sackler families and what happened to them once their crimes came to light.

Why Did Richard Sackler And Roderick Usher Create Painkillers?

After Richard Sackler took over Purdue Pharma, he realized that there was a lot of money that could be made in the pharmaceutical industry, provided somebody had the vision to understand the human psyche and knew what that one thing was that people craved about that they themselves were oblivious to. The other family members did not understand why Richard had asked them to sell off every other subsidiary but keep Purdue Pharma, but Richard was a man with a plan, and he already had a strategy in mind. He knew that they had a drug called MS Contin that was generally prescribed by doctors to patients who were suffering from terminal illnesses. There was a perception around the drugs, and Richard knew that where science wouldn’t help him, marketing and rebranding would. He kept the constituents pretty much the same but rebranded his products and launched them into the market under the name of oxycontin.

Sackler already had an entire army of sales representatives who were going to redefine the rules of the marketing world and take the medical industry by storm. A good product is always backed by a noble philosophy that surprises people as it holds a very unique perspective. Sackler told the world that he hated the word pain and that he didn’t think that enduring pain could do any good. The world had romanticized the idea of pain, and Sackler was adamant about redefining happiness and telling people that they could live a life without any sort of pain. It changed the landscape entirely, and this time, it was not the effectiveness of the magic pill, oxycontin, but the magic of the words spoken by Richard Sackler that made Purdue Pharma earn huge profits.

Roderick had a similar theory which he spoke about in his last moments in The Fall of the House of Usher during the conversation he was having with Auguste Dupin. He said that he wanted to remove pain from the world, but in reality, just like Richard Sackler, he didn’t care about any such thing. He wanted to earn money, and he didn’t care how many lives he destroyed on his way. Even Verna was astonished when she saw the number of people whose lives had become a living hell due to Roderick’s drug, Ligodone. The actions of both Sackler and Usher and the outcomes were pretty much the same, and the only difference that we could make was in the mental states of both men. Where Richard Sackler was well aware of what he was doing, Roderick had become a bit delusional down the line, and it was not until the very end that the curtains were lifted, and he could actually see reality. Still, it was no excuse for what he had done, but Roderick did try his level best to ensure that the accusations didn’t taint his conscience, and he found a way to tell the world that it was not his fault.

What Happened To Richard And Roderick In The End?

Richard Sackler, who now resides in Florida, away from the media attention, was never charged for any offense that he had committed. It was a known fact that the Sackler family knew about the addictive traits of their drug, and still went ahead and made it available for the common people and lied about it all along. They bribed every official who stood in their way, and they knew that unless and until a person with a very strong conscience came, their crime would never come to light. The tragedy was that even after society came to know what they had done, the prosecutors were never able to prove beyond doubt what they were claiming, and so Richard Sackler was never held personally liable for his acts. Oxycontin is still available on the market though there are a lot of restrictions on it and people need proper documentation to get it.

We love cinema because it makes us hopeful and restores people’s faith in concepts like justice and equality. It makes us believe that a bad man always pays for his sin sooner than later, though, in reality, things do not work like that a lot of the time. Auguste Dupin, at the end of The Fall of the House of Usher, got a confession from Roderick Usher, and the pharmaceutical mogul accepted that he was selling Death disguised as Ligodone. Just like Sackler, Roderick knew that he was a brilliant salesman, and he was well aware that his ambition, combined with a lethal concoction of greed and vengeance, had transformed him into a monster. We call him delusional because he tried negotiating with Death and hoped that he could buy his way out of this mess. But it was in the moment when Verna stared into his eyes that he realized that no amount of money would be able to save him from his doom. Roderick Usher was killed by his own sister, Madeline, and The Fall of the House of Usher gave us a twist of fate, which made us privy to the poetic justice that American society was deprived of in real life.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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