Painkiller is an American drama limited series that started on Netflix on August 10, 2023. It was made by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster. The six-part series is based on the New Yorker article “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain” by Patrick Radden Keefe and the book “Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic” by Barry Meier. It shows how the opioid crisis started, with a focus on the company that makes OxyContin, Purdue Pharma.
But how much of the drama is real and how much is just made up? Read on to find out everything you need to know about what really happened in the movie Painkiller.
Is Pain Killer Based on a True Story?
Some of it is true. Netflix makes it clear that the show is made up, but it is based on real events. In fact, Netflix says on its website that the show is a “fictionalized retelling of events” based on “extensive research.”
Most of the limited series is based on real events, but most of the important characters, like Edie, Glen, Shannon, and Britt, are made up. However, the people they represent are very real.
At the beginning of each episode, a real person says, “This show is based on real events. But for dramatic reasons, some characters, names, events, locations, and dialogue have been made up.
Then each person tells a short piece of their own story. “What wasn’t made up was that my son was given OxyContin when he was 15 years old,” a mother says through tears. “He was hooked on drugs for a long time. And at the age of 32, he died alone in a gas station parking lot in the freezing cold. We miss him, too.”
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“Even the parts of this show that are made up are based on the fact that the painful effects of opioid addiction happen every day in America,” says executive producer Eric Newman in the show’s press notes. “That’s what Painkiller is all about trying to figure out how this all started so we can maybe stop it for good.”
Who is Glen Kryger in Painkiller?
In the show, fans meet Glen, who owns a tire shop and lives with his wife Lily, and stepson Tyler. Glen hurts his back at work, which gives him terrible, long-lasting pain. He is given OxyContin to help him deal with his pain.
Glen thought that OxyContin helped him get his life back at first, but he ended up becoming hooked on the painkiller. His addiction to drugs got out of hand, causing his marriage to end and putting a strain on his relationship with his grandson.
Taylor Kitsch plays the role of Glen in the show. Bustle says that Kitsch worked with an advisor and sent producers notes to prepare for his part. He also used what he had learned from helping someone he knew who was abusing opioids and amphetamines.
Is Glen Based on a Real Person?
Glen is a fictional character, but he is based on real people. Peter Berg, the film’s director and executive producer, told Rotten Tomatoes that there have been “tens of thousands of Glens” during the opioid disaster. “So when people ask, ‘Is Glen a composite character?’ I say, ‘Kind of yes and no,'” he said. “I have met Glens. I’m sure you’ve met Glens or know someone who has.
What Happens to Glen at the End?
In one of the last scenes, Glen, whose drug use has been getting worse, tries to change his life. He tells his family that he’s done with OxyContin, gets his job back, and is trying to get along with his family while staying in a hotel.
Things go from bad to worse, which is a shame. Glen finds a bag of OxyContin by accident and then snorts some crushed pills in his car. According to RadioTimes, the audience can hear Glen’s heartbeat getting slower and can see someone shaking him through the open window of his car, but Glen is already dead. The cops then call to say that someone may have taken too much.
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