10 TV Shows like Painkiller you must watch

By Romey Norton
Published: September 11, 2023 (Last updated: February 8, 2024)
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10 TV Shows like Painkiller you must watch

We discuss 10 TV Shows like Painkiller you must watch. Add these well-recommended and highly-rated shows to your watch list.

Painkiller is the 2023 limited series about the opioid crisis in America. The Netflix series is based on Patrick Radden Keefe‘s New Yorker article “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain.” While it’s a drama, it is based on real events and is portrayed through the eyes of the victims, their families, perpetrators, investigators, sales reps, and more. 

Each episode opens with a statement from someone who was affected by the opioid crisis in real life and is a hard hit in the face to watch. 

This series is an emotional watch, filled with drama and intense acting. Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), Matthew Broderick (Inspector Gadget), and West Duchovny (Saint X) give excellent, compelling performances.

10 TV Shows like Painkiller

Dopesick (2021)  

Dopesick is a drama miniseries developed by Danny Strong and is an adaptation of Beth Macy’s 2018 non-fiction book, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America.

A stellar cast including Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, and Michael Stuhlbarg help tell the story of exploring the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction, from the boardrooms of Purdue Pharma to a distressed Virginia mining community.

WeCrashed (2022)

This series is based on the WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork podcast and revolves around the real-life married couple who built WeWork, a co-working space, and the unparalleled success also comes with problems. Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway star as the leads, giving memorable performances. 

The Dropout (2022)

This crime-thriller drama is a tale of ambition and fame gone terribly wrong. Elizabeth Holmes develops healthcare technology that puts millions of patients at risk and loses everything in the blink of an eye. Similar to Painkiller, it is a story about the medical industry in the USA and what a powerful, profitable industry it is. 

Ratched (2020)

One for the dark thriller fans. Just like Painkiller, Ratched explores the darkness that breathes behind the act of kindness and goodwill. The story is that of a young nurse at a mental institution who becomes jaded and bitter before turning into a nightmare to her patients.

The Crime of the Century (2021) 

This two-part documentary crime film gives its audience an in-depth look into the American opioid problem and its peripherals (as it’s in two parts and brilliant I’m putting it into this list.) Similar to Painkiller, it’s an in-depth look into the opioid crisis and how it’s affected so many people’s lives. 

Dr. Death (2021)

Dr. Death is a crime drama thriller series based on a podcast of the same name. The series tells the shocking true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch (Joshua Jackson), a seemingly bright, young neurosurgeon with a thriving medical practice, but all is not what it seems. Similar to Painkiller this series delves into the behind-the-scenes world of medicine in the United States. 

The Pharmacist (2020)

In a small town in New Orleans pharmacist Dan Schneider lost his son in a drug-related shooting. He embarks on a serious pursuit to bring his son’s killers to justice. He realizes that seemingly healthy people are coming to his pharmacy wanting high-dose prescriptions of OxyContin.

He sensed this crisis and set a new mission to help the people of his community and take on Big Pharma himself. It’s heartbreaking and compelling to watch and is definitely something you must see if you enjoyed watching Painkiller. 

Inventing Anna (2022) 

Another limited series based on an article is Inventing Anna. Jessica Pressler’s New Yorker article, “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People”, inspired this drama series that revolves around Anna Delvey, the eponymous lead who tricks the elite of New York City for money.

Heroin(e) (2017)

In Huntington, West Virginia, there are some of the highest rates of opioid addiction in America. This striking yet intimate documentary examines three women who are working to help the community through the epidemic. It’s brutally real and will help inform you about the recovery side of the crisis, too. 

When They See Us (2019)

What makes Painkiller so powerful and popular is that it has taken a news story from living memory and dramatizes it to a searing emotional and sociopolitical effect.

This is the same for the series When They See Us, which tells the story of the Central Park Five, aka the Exonerated Five, a group of Black and Latino teenage boys who were falsely convicted of assaulting a white woman in 1989.

Do you have any other recommendations for TV Shows like Painkiller? Let us know in the comments.

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