Painkiller parents guide and age rating: Is the new show appropriate for kids?

Painkiller. Taylor Kitsch as Glen Kryger in episode 105 of Painkiller. Cr. Keri Anderson/Netflix © 2023
Painkiller. Taylor Kitsch as Glen Kryger in episode 105 of Painkiller. Cr. Keri Anderson/Netflix © 2023 /
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Netflix’s latest venture into the true crime genre comes with Painkiller, the new eight-episode scripted drama series tackling the story of Purdue Pharma and their deadly opioid, OxyContin. The fictionalized version of the real-life story was created by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster and directed by Peter Berg, following the rise of the drug and how the billionaires behind it got away with selling it.

Painkiller is not Netflix’s worst show of the year, but it certainly lacks the depth and sensitivity needed to cover this devastating story effectively. One positive that’ll likely attract audiences is the cast, consisting of familiar faces Uzo Aduba, Taylor Kitsch, and Matthew Broderick. But even the talent behind the characters can’t save an exhausting telling of a story we’ve seen better done in Hulu’s Dopesick.

All of that being said, I’m sure people will still check out Painkiller, especially given the fact that it’s only six episodes and there aren’t many other new shows released on Netflix this week. If you’re considering checking out the series and aren’t sure if kids in your household should be watching it with you, let’s get into the age rating and what you can expect.

Painkiller on Netflix parents guide

Painkiller has been given a rating of TV-MA, which stands for Mature Audience Only. It is not meant for children under the age of 17. Having seen the show, I can confirm there is sex and nudity, profanity, death, and expectedly, drug use. The story covered in the show is incredibly dark and upsetting, and while children of a certain age might not fully grasp what’s going on, it’s still not suited for them.

Though Painkiller is unintentionally campy and sometimes a bit ridiculous, it still tackles a very sensitive topic that could very well disturb younger audiences. The OxyContin crisis has plagued the United States since the opioid’s development in the ’90s and its lasting effects have changed this country forever. The story told in the series is not to be taken lightly. This is a fictionalized account of what happened, but it’s still very disturbing.

I would consider Painkiller suitable for teenagers to watch, but it’s likely too mature for preteens or anyone younger. If you want to take a closer look at the series before deciding if it’s appropriate for your kids, you can watch the trailer here:

All six episodes of Painkiller are now streaming on Netflix.

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