Demi Lovato‘s highly-anticipated Youtube Original docuseries, Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil, directed by Michael D. Ratner, premiered its first two out of four episodes on March 23. The show focuses on sit-down interviews with Lovato, her family, and her closest friends, all of whom open up about her near-fatal drug overdose in July 2018. Regarding the events leading up to the overdose and the following repercussions, the group does not hold back, allowing fans and other viewers to hear the story first-hand in an emotional and explicit tell-all. In its first 24 hours, the first two episodes combined have garnered nearly 5 million views. The third and fourth episodes are set to release on March 30 and April 6, respectively.
Lovato, who is a long-time advocate for mental health, had presumably been sober for six years at the time of her overdose. The beginning of the first episode, losing control, shows clips from an unfinished documentary that took place during her Tell Me You Love Me Tour, where she is seemingly happy on the outside but would soon relapse, revealing that when her choice “cocktail” of Xanax and cocaine was not available, she turned to heroin and crack cocaine, which she admits becoming dependent on, though didn’t think she could overdose as she wasn’t injecting it.
In the morning of July 24, 2018, Lovato was taken by an ambulance to the hospital for an apparent drug overdose, when her former assistant, Jordan Jackson, found her unconscious in her bedroom after a night of partying. Though it was not confirmed what specific drugs the singer, who was 26 at the time, had overdosed on, she revealed that she had smoked heroin and ingested fentanyl-laced oxycodone that night. Synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, were involved in 31,335 American overdose deaths that same year.
“I actually don’t think people realize how bad it actually was,” Lovato said in the second episode, 5 minutes from death. “I had three strokes, I had a heart attack, I suffered brain damage from the strokes.”
She goes on to reveal that she had pneumonia from asphyxiation and multiple organ failure, explaining that she still can’t drive a car and she still suffers from blind spots, nearly three years later. The only parts worse than Lovato’s recount of what happened, are the harrowing details told by those who found her and the reaction of her family as they found out what had happened. Jackson recalled paramedics issuing Narcan – a drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose – to the singer and her entire body turning blue at one point. Lovato’s younger sister, Madison De La Garza, remembers visiting her in the hospital only for her to ask who was there, as she was initially declared legally blind.
“Later that day I talked to [Lovato’s] security and he told me the truth,” Eddie De La Garza, Lovato’s step-father, said on learning of her overdose. “That the next 24 hours were gonna be tough. We’ll know if she’s gonna make it in the next 24 hours.”
At one point, Lovato mentions hearing them say she had five to 10 minutes. Most of her friends and family had been receiving text messages from people saying they were “sorry about Demi” before they even knew what had happened.
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Hearing the former Disney star describe that not only was she unknowingly given fentanyl-laced drugs that night, but she was also taken advantage of by her drug-dealer and practically left for dead, adds another aspect to the traumatic experience in which she endured. Lovato was found naked and when doctors asked if she had consensual sex, she said yes after having a flashback of him on top of her, though realizing later on that she was in no state of mind to give consent.
Seeing the 2018 documentary footage from the vault, all in relation to how long it was filmed before her overdose, adds a bone-chilling sentiment. The turnover from tour footage of Lovato celebrating six years sober one month before relapsing to her taking shots at bars, selfies while high on crack cocaine, and dancing videos just hours before her life nearly ended was emotional, vulnerable, and made me feel like she was someone I have known personally my entire life.
Throughout the first two 22-minute episodes, flashbacks are visualized through a mix of the previously mentioned documentary footage and what appears to be media from Lovato’s camera-roll as well as animations for the parts that were not caught on-camera. Although the animations are simple, they are representative and strong, provoking intense emotion with the help of interviewed narration from Lovato, Madison De La Garza (younger sister), Dallas Lovato (older sister), Dianna De La Garza (mother), Eddie De La Garza (step-father), Jackson (former assistant), best friends Sirah Mitchell and Matthew Montgomery, Max Lea (head of security), Dr. Shouri Lahiri (Lovato’s neurologist), and Dani Vitale (former choreographer and creative director), who left Lovato’s house at 3 a.m. before she called her drug-dealer the night she overdosed.
Lovato is no stranger to being candid about her personal life. She acts as an inspiration to the millions of people fighting mental health, addiction, and body dysmorphia issues. The biggest takeaway from the first two episodes was that she had to want to help herself, not be forced by others to find it. She had to want to get clean on her own and for her, it took “crossing a line she had never crossed before in the world of addiction,” to do so. Most importantly, she wants to inspire people to tell their truth.
“It’s like a nice reminder that it wasn’t my time, that there was more life to be lived,” Lovato said.
Going along with the series are the Dancing with the Devil Diaries, where Lovato self-documents important parts of her life throughout the last year from getting engaged (and un-engaged) to the two-year anniversary of her overdose to her spiritual journey. Also accompanying the docuseries is an album – Dancing with the Devil … the Art of Starting Over – set to release on April 2, with the title track coming out on March 26. The album will include features by Noah Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Saweetie, and Sam Fischer.
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“Basically it’s just the most cohesive project I’ve ever made by myself,” Lovato said in a red carpet interview at her Dancing with the Devil premiere in Beverly Hills on March 22. “What you can expect is a lot of songs that basically represent me to a tee. And this album explains who I am, the journey I’ve been on, and it’s been awesome. I can’t wait for the world to hear it.”