Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil is an in-depth interview with Demi Lovato and her team, friends, and family during a time in her life when she spiraled into the darkness and overdosed and nearly died. Lovato gives the audience a look into eating disorders, mental health problems, addiction, and healing.
YouTube was issued a TV-14 rating for Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil. While it doesn’t show aspects that would qualify as TV-MA, they are discussed in the docuseries. I’ll discuss the things that stand out the most to me that I think parents should be aware of before letting their teens watch the series.
The docuseries is broken into four parts that will air weekly on YouTube Originals (premium) starting March 23.
In part one of the show, we see footage from a previous documentary that was unreleased and started filming in 2018. Lovato admits that the film wasn’t a valid representation of her life behind closed doors. Some of the footage makes it into this new docuseries to give viewers an idea of life on tour. We see her asking them to turn the cameras off a few times. She described it as only being the ‘tip of the iceberg.’ The previous documentary was filmed right up until she overdosed on July 24, 2018.
Trigger warning: The below story contains references to eating disorders, sexual assault, and drug abuse. This content may be triggering for some readers.
Parent’s Guide to Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil
Much of Dancing with the Devil involves interviews with Lovato and the people in her life.
Part I – Losing control
Death – She discusses her relationship with her father and how it was estranged because of the relationship he had with her mother and his substance misuse. Her father died and wasn’t discovered for nearly a week. Over this time period, it was father’s day, and you can tell that Lovato is holding on to some guilt about not visiting her father. She attributes her issues with substance abuse to her father and his lifelong struggles with it as well.
Eating Disorders – Lovato has struggled with eating disorders much of her life. She makes something obvious in this docuseries, and that is the mentality that women have to look a certain way in the music and entertainment industry. The designers that create her show outfits draw her like a stick figure with long legs. That she is criticized when her weight fluctuates, she talks about her struggles with bulimia over the years.
The first episode is free to watch, and you can view it below.
Part II – Five minutes from death
Substance Abuse – While on tour, Lovato relapsed from drinking alcohol and started using illicit drugs such as heroin, meth, ecstasy, cocaine, marijuana, Oxycontin, and crack cocaine.
Overdose – The story of her overdose is retold by the people that found her, including her assistant at the time and her head of security. They depict the scenes with a line drawing animation. Lovato discusses how she overdosed on heroin that was laced with fentanyl. If they had found her 5 minutes later, she would have died. She suffered three strokes, a heart attack, multiple organ failures, and woke up legally blind. Lovato admits that the spiritual growth she was looking for in life she was looking for in drugs.
Rape – The man that supplied Lovato with the drugs that nearly killed her also sexually assaulted her while she was too out of her mind to consent. Surveillance footage shows him leaving her home early in the morning and leaving her for dead.
The second episode is free to watch, and you can view it below.
Part III – Reclaiming power
Toxic Fans – After the overdose, fans started sending death threats to her friends, especially Dani Vitate, who couldn’t get a job and was fired due to the accusations circulating that she was the reason Demi Lovato overdosed.
“That’s the tea.” Demi Lovato
Relapsing – Lovato discusses her ways of coping with the traumas that have occurred in her life. She’s honest with the audience and even admits to relapsing after the overdose. She also discusses how she contacted her assailant and had sex with him again as a way to take back her power. This wasn’t the first time that she’s done this also. She recalls a time when she was working for Disney that a similar situation took place when she was young.
The third episode premieres on March 30.
Part IIII – Letting go
Recovery – It’s important to note that Lovato isn’t completely sober; she’s what is called “California sober” in that she still smokes marijuana and drinks alcohol in moderation. Elton John makes an appearance (along with Christina Aguilera and Will Ferrell) and explains that addicts don’t have the luxury of moderation. Artists are placed on this pedestal and looked at as gods; therefore, they can’t just ‘be human.’
“Recovery isn’t a one size fits all solution and you shouldn’t be forced to get sober if you’re not ready. You shouldn’t get sober for other people, you have to do it for yourself.” Demi Lovato
Mental Health – Lovatoa touches on the fact that she may have been misdiagnosed as bipolar when she was younger. While she wants to support the mental health community, she wants to make sure people are getting the help they need for their conditions.
Queer – While she “doesn’t want to put a label on it,” Lovato opens up about her journey as queer and breaking free of her gendered roles placed on her. She has a liberating moment at the end of the series where she cuts all her hair off.
While we don’t get a fully clean and sober Demi Lovato by the end of the series, we do get one that has clearly gone through a transformation of self after a dark time in her life that nearly killed her.