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Your Weekly Watch List

Netflix Continues the War on Opioids With Sackler Drama Painkiller

Plus: Only Murders in the Building takes Broadway, Winning Time returns, and more.
  • Uzo Aduba and Matthew Broderick in Painkiller (Photo: Keri Anderson/Netflix)
    Uzo Aduba and Matthew Broderick in Painkiller (Photo: Keri Anderson/Netflix)

    Looking for your next binge-watch, or just need to fill an hour? Welcome to Your Weekly Watch List, our curated collection of the best shows on television. Here's what to watch from Sunday, August 6 through Saturday, August 12.

    Two years after Hulu's Dopesick skewered Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, Netflix takes up the torch with Painkiller, a six-episode limited series starring Matthew Broderick as disgraced chairman Richard Sackler. Also this week: Only Murders in the Building investigates a murder on Broadway in Season 3, Winning Time continues the saga of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers dynasty, and MC Lyte and Queen Latifah celebrate women in hip-hop.

    Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty Season 2 Premiere

    Sunday, 9:00 PM ET on HBO

    Fresh off winning the 1980 NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers are riding high. Everyone — from star Magic Johnson (Quincy Isaiah) to owner Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly) — is confident a second championship is within reach, but as the new season gets underway, the Lakers discover that their meteoric rise has put a target on their back, complicating their quest for greatness. As the players and management struggle under the weight of expectation, tensions flare between Magic and teammate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes), while coach Paul Westhead's (Jason Segel) leadership is challenged by assistant coach Pat Riley (Adrien Brody). If there's one thing keeping the Lakers together in Winning Time Season 2, it's their rivalry with the Boston Celtics, which culminates in the blockbuster rematch of Magic and Larry Bird (Sean Patrick Small) in the 1984 Finals.

    While Winning Time's first season took place over the course of a single year, Season 2 is set from 1980 to 1984, a successful but volatile period that saw the firing of Westhead and increased one-upmanship among Buss' team. These major events are dramatized throughout the season, but the HBO series takes liberties with its characterizations — Abdul-Jabbar previously called it "deliberately dishonest" — so while Winning Time remains a captivating look at the Showtime-era Lakers, fans shouldn't mistake it for the unvarnished truth.

    Only Murders in the Building Season 3 Premiere

    Tuesday, Hulu

    Just when our favorite trio of intergenerational podcasters get out of the murder game, they find themselves at the center of yet another shocking crime. Picking up in the immediate aftermath of the Season 2 finale, Only Murders Season 3 tracks Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Short), and Mabel (Selena Gomez) as they investigate the sudden death of actor Ben Glenroy (Paul Rudd), the star of Oliver's stage play. The new setting — goodbye, Arconia; hello, Broadway! — creates a wider pool of potential suspects, all of whom have a motive to kill their narcissistic co-star. Chief among them is bit player Loretta Durkin (Meryl Streep), who aids the investigation in hopes of getting Oliver's show back on track.

    The addition of Rudd and Streep creates an exciting wrinkle in a show that started to feel listless over the course of its second season. New characters played by Ashley Park and Jesse Williams further expand the narrative possibilities, particularly for Mabel, who begins to consider a future beyond the walls of the Arconia. If Mabel's journey does end here, at least she and her technology-challenged pals are going out with a bang. "The wildest season yet," as Hulu describes it, premieres with two episodes, with new episodes dropping every Tuesday thereafter for 10 weeks.

    Ladies First: A Story of Women in Hip-Hop

    Wednesday, Netflix (Full Season)

    Netflix celebrates the 50th anniversary of hip-hop with a new docuseries that centers the women who helped define the genre. A parade of stars — including MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, and Rah Digga, plus contemporary chart-toppers Latto and Saweetie — serve as emcees as they trace hip-hop's roots and examine the obstacles women faced (and continue to face) in a male-dominated industry. After three, hour-long episodes spent looking back, the finale turns to the present and future, as artists and producers reflect on the close relationship that's developed between women in hip-hop and rap and offer predictions about what the next 50 years hold for a music genre inextricably linked with social, racial, and political revolution. That global context makes Ladies First inspiring viewing whether you're a longtime Sha-Rock fan or are just discovering Tierra Whack's work.


    Thursday, Netflix (Full Season)
    *Our must-watch pick of the week*

    Painkiller and Hulu's Emmy-winning drama Dopesick tell the same story and feature many overlapping characters, but the similarities between the limited series end there. While Dopesick approached America's opioid crisis with profound sincerity, Netflix's take employs a Big Short-inspired tone as it satirizes the greedy Sackler family and Purdue Pharma's criminal negligence in marketing OxyContin. Matthew Broderick stars as Richard Sackler, who carries on the legacy of his uncle, Arthur Sackler (Clark Gregg), by overseeing the development of a highly addictive synthetic opiate. Realizing there's a fortune to be made by placing Purdue at the center of the "pain and pleasure" cycle, Richard recruits an army of ruthless sales reps (played by West Duchovny and Dina Shihabi) to convince doctors in rural areas to prescribe OxyContin. Within weeks, patients, including hardworking father Glen (Taylor Kitsch), become addicted and overdoses spike, raising alarm bells for investigator Edie Flowers (Uzo Aduba).

    As the years pass and entire communities are decimated by opioid addiction, Edie becomes even more determined to bring down Purdue, and her voice guides the six-episode series as it works toward the company's 2020 guilty plea. (Disbursement of the associated settlement is still being disputed in the courts.) It's largely thanks to Aduba's gravitas that Painkiller creators Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster are able to strike a balance between the righteous anger on display in this portion of the show and Broderick's kooky performance on the Sackler side of things, which only goes further off the rails as OxyContin becomes a more pervasive threat.

    If You Have...

    An Hour

    The Chi Season 6 Premiere: Sunday, 9:00 PM ET on Showtime
    Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the New York Jets: Tuesday, 10:00 PM ET on HBO
    The Challenge USA Season 2 Premiere: Thursday, 10:00 PM ET on CBS
    Outlander Season 7 Summer Finale: Friday, 8:00 PM ET on Starz

    An Evening

    Kim vs Kanye: The Divorce: Monday, Max
    Strange Planet: Wednesday, Apple TV+
    Red, White & Royal Blue: Friday, Prime Video

    A Full Day

    Zombieverse: Tuesday, Netflix
    High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 4: Wednesday, Disney+
    Swagger Season 2: Complete season available Friday, Apple TV+

    Up Next

    Billions Season 7: Sunday, August 13 on Showtime
    Solar Opposites Season 4: Monday, August 14 on Hulu
    Telemarketers: Monday, August 14 on HBO
    Killing It Season 2: Thursday, August 17 on Peacock

    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: Painkiller, Netflix, Ladies First: A Story of Women in Hip-Hop, Only Murders In The Building , Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, Matthew Broderick, Uzo Aduba