Netflix's new no.1 drama doesn't deserve its 49% Rotten Tomatoes score

Painkiller, Netflix's drama based on America's opioid epidemic, has split opinion

Painkiller (a Netflix Original)
(Image credit: Netflix)

Another week and another new Netflix number one has risen to the top of the stack (in the UK anyway). It's a Netflix Original drama series, based on real events related to America's prescribed opioid crisis, called Painkiller

And I'll put you out of your pain right now, as Painkiller has, well, really not pleased the critics – scoring a mere 49% on aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. It's certainly split opinion down the middle, though, as the audience score is a higher (yet still not exactly shining) 61%. You can watch the trailer below: 

But I think that's harsh, sitting quite some distance from the deserved Netflix new sci-fi scoring a rare 100% Rotten Tomatoes score. It shows Netflix's breadth that the streaming giant is willing to tackle the heavier subject matters too – and that's part of what keeps it in the mix of the best streaming services available right now.

Netflix Original shows are typically shown across eight or nine episodes, but Painkiller is a 'Limited Series', meaning it spans just six episodes overall. It features a stellar cast, too, with well-known Matthew Broderick at the helm, and the excellent Uzo Aduba – I know her best from Orange Is The New Black, and these two roles couldn't be further apart – delivering the goods. 

I'm not going to even try and present Painkiller as a feel-good show. It's really not. But in this bleak summertime that we've been having, it's almost cathartic to watch. As episode one begins, opened by Jennifer Trejo-Adams, whose son, Christopher Trejo, was prescribed OxyContin aged 15, falling into a life of addiction and ultimately leading to his death – and that's not fiction, that really happened – the show is a flag that discussions around health and medicine need to continue.

And once you're done with all six episodes, whether you fall on the side of positive or negative review, there's plenty of opportunity to use your Netflix account to dive into other more light-hearted shows. Especially at a time when it's cracking down on password sharing and has now just scrapped its basic plan, being subscribed for the summer is a must.

Mike Lowe
Tech Editor

Mike is the Tech Editor and AV Editor at He's been writing about consumer technology for 15 and, as a phones expert, has seen hundreds of handsets over the years – swathes of Android devices, a smattering of iPhones, and a batch of Windows Phone products (remember those?). But that's not all, as a tech aficionado his beat for T3 also covers tablets, laptops, gaming, home cinema, TVs, speakers and more – there's barely a stone unturned that he's not had a hand on. Previously the Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint for a 10 years, he's also provided work for publications such as Wired, The Guardian, Metro, and more. In addition to his tech knowledge, Mike is also a flights and travel expert, having travelled the globe extensively. You'll likely find him setting up a new mobile phone, critiquing the next MacBook, all while planning his next getaway... or cycling somewhere.