‘Painkiller’ (2023) is this week’s Netflix series | The OxyContin tragedy that still festers to this day

West Duchovny in Painkiller (2023)
Elisabeth Plank

Painkiller‘ is a limited series directed by Peter Berg, and starring Uzo Aduba and Matthew Broderick. The series has premiered on Netflix on August 10th.

It is based on the investigative news articles “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain” by Patrick Radden Keefe and “Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic” by Barry Meier.


This drama delves into the origins and aftermath of the opioid epidemic in America, shedding light on the individuals responsible, the victims affected, and an investigator determined to uncover the truth.

About the Series

Many of us know how the Purdue Pharma / Sackler saga went down. In the six episodes of “Painkiller” we are offered a recount, in fictionalized form, of the events that left the Sackler family in disgrace thanks to the case against Purdue Pharma concerning the pharmaceutical’s pushing of OxyContin into the market, and thereby starting the devastating opioid epidemic.

With the über-talented Uzo Aduba (who has never let us down, be it in ‘Orange is the New Black’ or in ‘In Therapy’) as Eddie Flowers, an investigator for the US Attorney’s Office, Aduba takes on the role convincingly as a resolute, pragmatic bureaucrat full of conviction. Flowers serves as the character whose account introduces us to the early days of the exorbitant amounts of prescriptions of OxyContin given by medical professionals, and provides us with the gruesome details of the case.

Richard Sackler, played by Matthew Broderick magnificently encapsulates Sackler’s distant entitlement and unfeeling demeanor one would imagine him to carry, and his mental disconnect with the reality of his customers.

In this series we are shown the points of view of all the stakeholders in this national tragedy – the victims, the dealers, the head honcho Pusher, the investigators – all wrapped in a thrilling format that counts on good direction, commendable performances, and a rhythm (heightened by a few interjections of relevant archive footage and a good soundtrack) that will keep you engaged in the story.

Our Opinion

‘Painkiller’ will be this week’s, if not this season’s, series par excellence. It counts on commendable and convincing performances, good cinematography, editing that plays with the rhythm keeping the viewer engaged and entertained in this piece of good storytelling. Alas, a story based on true events. Recommended!

Where to watch ‘Painkiller’


When to watch ‘Painkiller’

August 10th

The Cast

Uzo Aduba
Uzo Aduba
Matthew Broderick
Matthew Broderick
Taylor Kitsch
Taylor Kitsch
Sam Anderson
Sam Anderson

Tyler Ritter

Carolina Bartczak

John Ales

Ron Lea

Ana Cruz Kayne

West Duchovny

Jack Mulhern

John Murphy

Share This Article
Television, Series and Trailers
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *