Trigger Warning: This article includes topics of sexual abuse, drug addiction, and eating disorders.
On July 24, 2018, we all received the news of Demi Lovato’s overdose, wondering how they got to that point. Lovato then took a step away from the spotlight while they worked on recovering, not performing again until the 2020 Grammy’s performance of their song “Anyone”, which I vividly remember watching: Dressed in a long white dress under a spotlight, and Lovato’s pause to stop themself from crying, their first performance back was a powerful and emotional one.
It was not until the release of “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil” on Youtube, that Lovato finally revealed what really happened the night of the overdose, and what they have been doing to make sure it never happens again. With four episodes worth of emotion-packed scenes, Lovato, their friends, family, and team, discuss Lovato’s addiction, sexual assault, and eating disorders – topics they were scared to shine a light on because of their Disney past. If you plan on watching this, be prepared to cry, and go down the rabbit hole of listening to the Dancing With the Devil album, and understanding the references behind their songs- and crying even more.
Episode 1: Losing Control
Kicking off the docuseries, the first episode reveals how during the “Tell Me You Love Me” world tour, Lovato put up a facade of being perfectly fine, while they were being consumed with guilt over their estranged father who had passed away alone, relapsing back into their eating disorder with over-exercising and extreme dieting, and getting hooked back into drugs and alcohol.
The end of the episode dives into the night before the overdose, and how Lovato had become physically dependent on heroin and crack cocaine. It was worrisome to see how even Lovato’s closest friends and family had no clue of them relapsing again because of how good Lovato was at hiding the addiction. Knowing that Lovato was going to overdose later that night and hearing Lovato recount the moments building up to it was anxiety-inducing, knowing nothing could be done.
Watching Lovato compare themself with the sketches drawn up for their tour costumes, which are typically elongated and skinny versions of artists donned in elaborate costumes, showed me something I had never thought of- just how we ourselves may compare ourselves to these celebrities on Instagram, they are comparing themselves to others, so remember that the next time you catch yourself comparing yourself to a celebrity or influencer who is probably doing the same thing.
Episode 2: 5 Minutes from Death
Episode two dives into how close Lovato was to death. It was revealed that had Lovato’s assistant, Jordan Jackson, waited a few more minutes before entering Lovato’s room and calling the ambulance, Lovato would’ve not been here today.
After watching the series, I recommend watching the Dancing With the Devil music video which shows Lovato re-enacting the night and morning after the overdose. After binge-watching the entire docuseries, watching this music video right after had me bawling at four in the morning.
Episode 3: Reclaiming Power
Episode three helped me see just how much fans can overstep into celebrities’ lives sometimes. Though it’s perfectly fine to admire an artist and follow up with their lives, this episode opened my eyes to how much we as fans tend to see celebrities as not human. When the news of Lovato’s overdose had broken out, superfans referred to as Lovatics, sent about four to five thousand death threats daily to Lovato’s friend and backup dancer Dani Vitale, being pointed to as the cause of Lovato’s overdose.
This episode also showed just how much Lovato struggled with having been taken advantage of by their drug dealer the night of the overdose and left for dead. During their relapse, Lovato tried to take back power by having consensual sex with the drug dealer. What shocked me the most, though, was Lovato revealing that this mirrored what had occurred to them when they were younger. At 15, Lovato lost their virginity in a rape, but because they were part of a Disney crowd, Lovato never revealed this part of their life. Though we may be curious as to who it was, as I saw in the many YouTube comments, it is not something that we should be questioning Lovato about. Also, hearing how Lovato’s abuser was never punished or taken out of movies he was in, showed me why Lovato never bothered to shed a light on his identity.
Episode 4: Rebirth
During quarantine, Lovato had time to work on their mental health and explore their identity after a failed engagement. Since the release of the docuseries, Lovato has come out as nonbinary. Lovato has now made a big change to their looks, chopping off their hair to be free of trauma and cut off the gender and sexual roles that were placed on them.
Growing up watching the Camp Rock movies and Sonny with a Chance, having idolized Lovato, watching this four-part series was incredibly sad, yet eye-opening in the fact of just how much Disney tends to want their young cast members to be the perfect role models, something actors such as Bella Thorne and Miley Cyrus have spoken out about since leaving Disney. While we as children were idolizing Lovato and their Disney costars, there is probably so much they have had to hide, making it even more difficult for them to heal.