Is Shannon Schaeffer from Netflix's Painkiller based on a real person? (2024)

This article discusses whether Shannon Schaeffer from Netflix’s Painkiller is based on a real person and contains spoilers for the series.

The controversial new limited series Painkiller takes a dramatic look at an incredible situation.

The show explains the situation that arose in the US that allegedly brought about an opioid crisis.

Purdue Pharma is at the heart of the story. The company run by Richard Sackler, played in the series by Matthew Broderick, became hugely successful producing OxyContin, the drug that so many people would become addicted to.

The series is based on facts that are public knowledge, referencing in particular a New Yorker profile of the Sackler family, and a book called Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic by Barry Meier.

The show does everything that it can to present the facts behind the story, but the production does admit that names, locations, and certain incidents may have been changed.

READ: TV Shows like Painkiller

This is probably done to protect some people that were involved in the story, but also to help the narrative flow, and, let’s face it, to make the show more digestible for viewers.

The show has led fans to wonder about the nature of the characters that are on screen, and as you watch, you do find yourself wondering about who is real, and who is fictionalized.

There is a full review of the show right here on Ready Steady Cut, but this short article is going to have a look at one of the main players in the series and answer the question: Is Shannon Schaeffer from Netflix’s Painkiller based on a real person?

Who is Shannon Schaeffer from Netflix’s Painkiller and why is she important?

In the show, Shannon Schaeffer is a young college student that becomes a sales rep for the company.

Shannon’s job meant she had to try and convince doctors about the benefits of prescribing the drug freely and readily to patients while trying to allay the fears surrounding the product.

The rep would defuse any criticisms about the addictive nature of the drug, and she is integral in the show, helping the spread of the opioid and reassuring doctors that everything was safe, even when encouraging upping the dosage for patients.

In the show, she starts to realize the moral implications of her job, however, she also enjoys the wealth she accrues from being in that position.

Over the course of the series, she slowly starts to realize just how dangerous the drug is, and finds herself in a major moral dilemma. Is she just a drug dealer with a ponytail?

Is Shannon Schaeffer from Netflix’s Painkiller based on a real person?

It is safe to say that the Shannon Schaeffer character is not based on any one person but is instead an amalgamation of several sales reps that worked for Purdue Pharma, that may have been involved in pushing the drugs to doctors, and their patients.

Her actions on the show may represent the ambitions of sales reps that can make huge bonuses if they reach a certain level of sales, and we can only assume that the financial remuneration for hitting their targets made it morally worthwhile to them.

It could be argued that the sales reps and marketing for the drug were hugely influential in the opioid crisis.

Who plays Shannon Schaeffer in Painkiller?

Shannon is played by West Duchovny.

If the name sounds familiar, it will not surprise you to know that she is the daughter of David Duchovny and Tea Leoni, and she appeared in an episode of The X Files in 2018.

You might have saw West in the TV series The Magicians, the 2021 movie A Mouthful of Air, the 2022 movie Linoleum and eight episodes of the TV show Saint Xin 2023.

You can watch Painkiller with a subscription to Netflix.

Additional reading:

  • Painkiller Ending Explained
  • Is Painkiller on Netflix based on a true story?
  • Where was Painkiller on Netflix filmed?
  • Is Glen Kryger from Netflix’s Painkiller based on a real person?
  • Is Matthew Stavron from Netflix’s PainKiller based on a real person?

Is Shannon Schaeffer from Netflix's Painkiller based on a real person? (1)

Article by Louie Fecou

Louie Fecou joined the Ready Steady Cut writing team back in August 2018 as an Entertainment Writer and, since then, has published over 1,000 articles for the site. Louie has proven experience in various publications, print and online. To kickstart his journalism career, in 2013, he was a columnist and writer for The Irvine Herald Newspaper.

View All Articles from Louie Fecou

Is Shannon Schaeffer from Netflix's Painkiller based on a real person? (2024)
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