Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Like the hit Netflix series Painkiller? Then watch these 3 TV shows just like it

The cast of Painkiller.

Earlier this month, Painkiller premiered on Netflix, and it has remained high on its list of the streamer’s 10 most popular TV series. This miniseries is based on “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain,” an article written by Patrick Radden Keefe for The New Yorker. It’s an examination of the ongoing opioid epidemic that was caused by Purdue Pharma’s most profitable drug, OxyContin. Matthew Broderick stars in the series as Richard Sackler, the former President of Purdue and the man whose actions have been blamed for devastating countless lives.

Painkiller dramatizes several stories of addiction, and it also features gripping disclaimers that are read by real people who talk about the family members that they personally lost to addiction. At times, it’s almost impossible to look away from the unfolding tragedies, and there’s no happy ending here. But once you’ve finished this six-episode series, there are three other shows that share some of the same thematic elements that Painkiller utilizes. So if you liked Painkiller, then you’re going to enjoy these shows.

Dopesick (2021)

Michael Keaton as Dr. Samuel Finnix in Dopesick, sitting and talking on the phone.

If you’ve watched Painkiller, then you’ll be very familiar with Hulu’s Dopesick, which predates it by two years and essentially tells the same story. In this series, Michael Stuhlbarg portrays Richard Sackler instead of Broderick, and The Flash‘s Michael Keaton gets a good deal of the focus as Dr. Samuel Finnix, a man who practices medicine in a small mining town. Due to Sackler’s minions, Finnix initially believes that OxyContin is a wonder drug and less addictive than other painkillers. Much to his horror, it eventually becomes clear to Finnix that OxyContin is even more addictive and destructive. And the damage that Oxy leaves in its wake is immense.

This miniseries follows a large ensemble of characters, including DEA Agent Bridget Meyer (Rosario Dawson), who leads the fight to take down Purdue Pharma, and U.S. attorneys Rick Mountcastle (Peter Sarsgaard) and Randy Ramseyer (John Hoogenakker), who build a case against Sackler and his company in an attempt to make them pay for what they’ve unleashed.

Watch Dopesick on Hulu.

The Dropout (2022)

Elizabeth Holmes staring into the camera, wearing a black turtleneck as Elizabeth Holmes in The Dropout.
Hulu / Hulu

The connective theme between Painkiller and The Dropout is an executive who puts profits over people. Elizabeth Holmes (Amanda Seyfried) may not have ruined as many lives as the Sackler family, but she committed fraud on a grand scale and that’s ultimately what led to her downfall. The miniseries tracks Holmes’ life from her time in college to the present, and she literally does drop out of college to pursue her dream of being the next Steve Jobs.

Holmes claimed to have come up with a way to test blood at home with quick and accurate results, which helped her raise millions for her company, Theranos. However, that success was predicated on a lie because her blood testing tech didn’t work at all. This story chronicles how everything fell apart for her in the end. And Holmes didn’t go down alone.

Watch The Dropout on Hulu.

Dr. Death (2021-Present)

Joshua Jackson as Dr. Christopher Duntsch in Peacock's Dr. Death.
Scott McDermott / Peacock / Peacock

Don’t presume to think that Dr. Death is about the late Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a man who was given that nickname because he advocated for terminally ill patients’ right to commit suicide rather than continuing to suffer. Instead, Peacock’s Dr. Death series focuses on Christopher Duntsch (Joshua Jackson), a doctor whose actions are far more insidious.

Duntsch maimed and even fatally injured his patients in horrific fashion. But the truly unsettling thing about this real-life story is that Duntsch’s colleagues almost immediately noticed that he was dangerously unqualified to practice medicine, but his employers failed to report him for malpractice.

Unlike the other shows on this list, Dr. Death has been renewed for a second season. However, Peacock hasn’t yet set a date for the season 2 premiere.

Watch Dr. Death on Peacock.

Editors' Recommendations

Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
The best romance shows on Netflix right now
Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan as Colin and Penelope looking at each other in Bridgerton.

There aren't many new romance shows on Netflix right now, but there are new seasons of some popular shows, and that's the next best thing! Netflix's breakout romantic drama, Bridgerton, is back for season 3 on May 16. But since that season is being split into two halves, you'll have to wait until June 13 to see the remaining episodes.

The other good news for romance fans is that Netflix has now added the sixth season of Starz's time-traveling romance drama Outlander. There was a two-year gap between the premiere of Outlander season 6 on Starz and its streaming debut on Netflix. That may mean Outlander season 7 part 1 could come to Netflix in 2025.

Read more
3 rom-coms on Netflix you need to watch in May 2024
A man and woman awkwardly smile as they stand next to each other.

Are you looking for more rom-coms on Netflix? Thankfully, you've come to the right place. Netflix's library is a great destination for rom-coms, ranging from feel-good comedies and raunchy adventures to teen romance and critical classics. Some of the best rom-coms on Netflix include No Hard Feelings, The Holiday, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, and Set It Up.

Those four movies are only a taste of what you can find in the romance section. Below, you'll find three additional movies available to stream in May. Our selections include a love story involving two standout entertainers, a charming comedy involving weddings, and the sleeper hit of 2023.
The Wedding Planner (2001)

Read more
Like the Netflix hit series Baby Reindeer? Then watch these 3 great shows now
Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer sitting on a bus with a yellow coat staring forward, the image of deer ears on either side of him.

Netflix’s smash-hit series Baby Reindeer is a mind-blowing true story about Scottish comedian Richard Gadd, who was relentlessly stalked by a woman for years. In the process of telling his story, it also reveals a traumatic event that occurred in his past. The underlying themes in the series hit hard, but it's also a cathartic story of damaged self-worth, loneliness, ambition, desperation, assault, and a system that often fails people.

Chances are you have probably already powered your way through the seven episodes of the black-comedy drama thriller. If you’re looking for something else to satiate your appetite while processing the disturbingly good show, put these three series on your radar to tackle next.
Beef (2023)

Read more