Plenty of Hollywood notables have sprouted from the quarters of Newton, Massachusetts—Eli Roth, John Krasinski, BJ Novak, Matt LeBlanc to name a handful—but Sam Mettler is one of the uber-successfuls who flies under the radar. He’s the creator of A&E’s addiction reality series, Intervention—the winner of two Primetime Emmys, and up there with America’s most eminent documentary-style shows.
This year, however, Mettler, who picked up an Emmy himself in 2009, is spearheading another series that runs along the same dark and twisted road. Investigation Discovery’s latest docudrama called Breaking Point, like Intervention, documents the chronic behaviors of addicts, but this time specifically crime addicts. The hour-long episodes follow one particular subject, showing a story arc over a period of ups and downs.
“I love telling very real and honest stories about real people that have high conflict in their lives,” Mettler says. “Drug addiction and criminality are closely related.”
Since wrapping up with shooting the first season of Breaking Point, Mettler says that childhood trauma was a reoccurring motif he’d see in each person, moreover their lack of learning to process it.
“[Trauma] is virtually impossible to keep stuffed,” says Mettler. “There are lots of ways to self-medicate and crime falls into that—whether it’s the thrill, drama of the lifestyle, or ways to pay for medicine.”
While it’s difficult to imagine how crime can be so enslaving, Mettler explains that the subjects are highly relatable at the same time. Their socioeconomic statuses are mainly middle class, some lower, and their stories are empathetic. The subject in the episode airing February 5, for example, is a girl from Boston who’s a prostitute living in the suburbs. Sarah’s tale, though tragic, is compelling, he says.
Part of Mettler’s role as the creator of the show includes spending a lot of time with the subjects beforehand to create a bridge of trust. When asked about finding subjects for the show, Mettler says that the families are the ones that seek out the show. The subjects are also offered treatment afterwards for a minimum of 90 days following the documentation.
“It’s hard decisions to make because we want to help everyone,” he says. “Our show is hard to watch but so important to see. It’s pretty riveting stuff.”
As for returning to his fair city for Sarah’s sequence, Mettler says he always “loves coming back to Boston.”
“It’s such an authentic city. Boston has such great character.” Of course, he may be biased, he jokes, “but I love my town.”
Breaking Point airs on Thursdays at 10 p.m. on Investigation Discovery.
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