The Matthew Broderick Netflix Thriller Stephen King Relates To The Most

By TeeJay Small | Published

Matthew Broderick in Painkiller

Though Stephen King has devoted his life to writing some of the greatest literary works of all time, many of which have been adapted into award-winning television series and films, none of his own works have been quite as prescient to his own life as Netflix’s Painkiller.

The thrilling mini-series, which recently premiered all six 40-minute long episodes back in August, stars Matthew Broderick as famed billionaire physician and developer of OxyContin Richard Sackler. Painkiller is currently available to stream in full, on Netflix.

Painkiller dramatizes the true story of the rise of OxyContin, but as Stephen King says, it’s a story that he lived through himself.

Stephen King took to X (formerly Twitter) to describe his unshakable feelings of attachment to the subject matter presented in Painkiller, claiming he could relate to everything presented within the series. King also explained a little of his history and relationship with drugs, namely OxyContin, which the author claims to have loved nearly to the tune of his own demise. Like many Americans, King has fallen victim to the opioid epidemic, which sits at the center of the Netflix original series.

Painkiller dramatizes the now-famous 2017 New Yorker article “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain” by Patrick Radden Keefe, as well as the 2018 book Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic┬áby Barry Meier. Through the series’ 6 episodes, the opioid epidemic is examined and dissected, parsing blame on the notorious Sackler family, who famously pushed the drug through their connections at the massive pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma as a means to enrich themselves at the detriment of public health.

The series centers on Matthew Broderick’s Richard Sackler as he and his family unleash the powerful narcotic painkiller OxyContin into the mainstream, turning the drug and its use into a billion-dollar industry.

Painkiller stars Matthew Broderick alongside Orange is the New Black‘s Uzo Aduba, as well as True Detective‘s Taylor Kitsch, Archive 81‘s Dina Shihabi, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Clark Gregg. The series first premiered in a single batch of episodes on Netflix on August 10, 2023, after undergoing a prolonged post-production schedule. The series finished shooting as early as November 2021, with each of the episodes being directed by Mile 22 filmmaker and frequent Mark Wahlberg collaborator Peter Berg.

The series centers on Matthew Broderick’s Richard Sackler as he and his family unleash the powerful narcotic painkiller OxyContin into the mainstream, turning the drug and its use into a billion-dollar industry. Throughout the series, we follow a team of journalists and pharmaceutical insiders as they tug on the thread of deceit and lies that goes all the way to the top of the industry, making the opioid epidemic one of the most pressing health crises of the 21st century in the United States.

The series follows the marketing campaign that claimed that the painkiller’s long-acting formulation made it significantly safer to those prescribed the drug than traditional painkillers on the market, including a now-debunked study that claimed OxyContin is addictive and habit-forming in less than 1 percent of the population. By now, nearly every person in the United States has at least encountered someone whose life has been impacted by this epidemic, which has proved to be fiercely addicting, even in its prescribed form.

Painkiller may not have done as well with critics as the similarly themed Dopesick, but it’s found an audience.

For a viewer such as Stephen King, who was blessed enough to escape the clutches of OxyContin, Painkiller serves as a bleak reminder that he is not alone and that the medical industry has failed him and countless others.

Though the series has received a great deal of praise from King and a number of other viewers, it largely received mixed reviews and has been compared unfavorably to the Hulu original series Dopesick, which covers similar subject matter. Painkiller currently holds a middling 49 percent critic score on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, a far cry from the 89 percent score held by Dopesick.

Though the show may be difficult for some viewers to watch, the subject matter serves as an important look into the twisted lengths those in power will go to as a means to further enrich themselves, as well as the flawed medical care industry as it currently stands within the United States. All six episodes of Painkiller are currently available to stream on Netflix right now.