Sometimes the truth can be stranger than fiction. The new Apple TV+ series "Home Before Dark" starring Brooklyn Prince (famously known for "The Florida Project") is actually based on real-life events. The series is inspired by the true story of Hilde Lysiak, a 9-year-old journalist who moves from Brooklyn to a small town left behind by her father. The curious young reporter ends up unearthing a cold case that everyone — including her father — tried to keep hidden. Before we watch the chilling tale unfold on our television screens when it debuts on April 3, 2020, Wonderwall.com is rounding up the best TV shows based on real crimes and scandals. Keep reading for more…
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The chilling events of April 19, 1989 were brought to the small screen in "When They See Us." The 2019 series, which was written and directed by Ava DuVernay, focuses on the real-life stories of the five young suspects who were prosecuted for charges in relation to the sexual assault of a female jogger in Central Park. The accused, who maintained their innocence and fought for justice, were known as the Central Park Five. Michael K. Williams, John Leguizamo, and Felicity Huffman are among the notable names in this moving miniseries.
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"The Act," starring Joey King and Patricia Arquette tells the real-life story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her abusive mother, Dee Dee. For years, Dee Dee abused her daughter, Gypsy Rose, by making up fake illnesses and disabilities as a consequence of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Gypsy fought back and ended up murdering her own mother.
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You might not have thought that the outrageous plot lines of "American Horror Story" featured anything based in reality, but the characters on "American Horror Story: Coven" were actually based on real-life murderers. Kathy Bates's Madame Delphine LaLaurie was inspired by the woman of the same name who killed slaves in her attic, while the Axeman, played by Danny Huston, was based on a serial killer with the same name who murdered four people.
Pablo Escobar's scandalous tale was given the Hollywood treatment on "Narcos." The Netflix series, which starred Wagner Moura as the infamous Colombian drug lord, ran for three seasons before launching a spinoff of sorts in 2018 — "Narcos: Mexico" — which focuses on Mexico's illegal drug trade.
Netflix's hit series "Mindhunter," which debuted in 2017, might be fictional, but it's based on the true story of former FBI agent John E. Douglas, who pioneered criminal profiling at the FBI. The character Holden Ford (portrayed by Jonathan Groff, right) gives us a glimpse at John's career, which involved interviewing serial killers. On the show, the murderers have been fictionalized, but they're still based on real people.
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a tragedy for America that Hollywood has recreated numerous times. Stephen King's "11.22.63," the 2016 Hulu miniseries starring James Franco, features a twist as it follows what would have happened if the past could have been changed and JFK wasn't killed that day.
Did you know that Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope was modeled after a real-life lady? "Scandal," which ran for seven seasons that concluded in 2018, was inspired by crisis management specialist Judy Smith, a former George H.W. Bush administration press aide whose clients have included Monica Lewinsky, the family of murdered Washington intern Chandra Levy, NFL star Michael Vick, the late NBA star Kobe Bryant and more. She also served as the show's co-creator and executive producer.
One of the most famous true-crime stories in Hollywood history? The murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman and the trials that followed after Nicole's ex-husband, O.J. Simpson, was blamed for the slayings. "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" took on this infamous '90s tale in 2016, giving it the Ryan Murphy treatment. Cuba Gooding Jr. played former the NFL star-turned-actor and murder suspect.
"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story" was the well-reviewed second season of Ryan Murphy's true-crime anthology series. The nine-episode show, which ran in 2018, followed the heartbreaking real-life cross-country killing spree that was committed by murderer Andrew Cunanan, who was played by "Glee" alum Darren Criss. The actor's performance was so strong, he won an Emmy, a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for his chilling portrayal.
"Unbelievable" tells the true-story about the rapes that occurred in Washington State and Colorado between 2008 to 2011 and the police investigations that resulted. The series is based on the 2015 article "An Unbelievable Story of Rape" written by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, which was originally published by two non-profit news organizations: The Marshall Project and ProPublica. Kaitlyn Dever, Toni Collette, and Merritt Wever star in this critically acclaimed Netflix series that debuted in 2019.
When it came time to create a terrifying killer, "The Fall" — which ran for three seasons starting in 2013 — took its inspiration from two real-life murderers. Strangler Dennis Rader and Co-Ed Killer Ed Kemper were both borrowed from to create Jamie Dornan's scary criminal, Paul Spector, who's hunted down by Gillian Anderson's Metropolitan Police superintendent Stella Gibson.
One of Netflix's first breakout hits, "Orange Is the New Black," is based on white-collar criminal Piper Kerman's memoir that chronicled her 13-month prison sentence for money laundering. Taylor Schilling stars on the series that began back in 2013. Its seventh and final season is set to debut in 2019.
The Peaky Blinders were a real-life gang from Birmingham, England, who operated from the late 1800s through the start of World War I. The critically acclaimed BBC and Netflix show of the same name took its inspiration from these real life criminals. Cillian Murphy stars as the gang's leader, Tommy Shelby, on the show that debuted in 2013.
The Chernobyl Disaster of 1986 was a devastating nuclear accident that shocked the world. HBO's five-part series, "Chernobyl," explores the occurrence of the nuclear disaster along with the subsequent clean up. While the 2019 series isn't necessarily based on a scandal or true-crime event, the slew of human errors, inadequacy, and negligence that comes to light in the series raises questions about who and what really caused the disaster that both took and changed the lives of many people.
TNT's "I Am the Night" is based on the infamous story of the Black Dahlia murder. Chris Pine starred on the 2019 limited series, which took the interesting perspective of focusing on the granddaughter of suspected murderer George Hodel (played by India Eisley).
Scandalous! "Feud: Bette and Joan" took on one of Hollywood's most famous feuds — the bad blood between silver-screen legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford — and brought it to our television screens weekly. Ryan Murphy's 2017 creation starred Susan Sarandon as Bette and Jessica Lange as Joan.
Viewers are obsessed with Margaret Atwood's book-turned-addictive TV show "The Handmaid's Tale," but one of the author's other works that was adapted for the small screen is actually based on a true story. "Alias Grace" follows the murder mystery of Grace Marks, a teenage servant accused of killing her boss back in 1843. Sarah Gadon played the young woman on the miniseries that also starred Anna Paquin, Zachary Levi and Edward Holcroft. The six-episode project debuted in 2017.
The Golden Globe-winning drama series "Boardwalk Empire," which kicked off in 2010 and ran for five seasons, was a fictionalized take on the life of Enoch L. Johnson, a corrupt and powerful political figure in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition era. Steve Buscemi played the infamous city treasurer (right) as the show unfolded during this controversial time in America where the mob ran rampant in assisting with illegal activities.
"The Assets" was a 2014 miniseries based on the tale of CIA officers who tracked down an internal leak within their organization. With stories coming straight from the real-life officers as told in the book "Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed," the show chronicled all the chaos that the agent's betrayal caused. Paul Rhys played the traitor.
The period crime drama "Aquarius" took place in the 1960s. Based on real people and events, the show, which ran for two season in 2015 and 2016, followed David Duchovny as Sam Hodiak, an LAPD detective investigating a case in which a teenage girl goes missing that leads him to take on the infamous murderer Charles Manson.
Christina Ricci starred as Lizzie Borden on "The Lizzie Borden Chronicles," a fictionalized version of the true-crime story that took place in 1892. In real life, Lizzie was accused of killing her father and mother but was acquitted of the murders. The limited series dramatically recreated the tale for Lifetime in 2015.
Jack the Ripper's story got a modern retelling on the first season of "Whitechapel," a BBC series set in the London neighborhood of the same name where the notorious serial killer committed unspeakable acts. Rupert Penry-Jones starred as Detective Inspector Joseph Chandler on the show that ran for four seasons before its cancellation in 2013.
Another show that took on Jack the Ripper was "Ripper Street." This BBC drama, which ran for five seasons and concluded in 2016, was set in the late 1800s and kicked off in the wake of the notorious killer's death run. Jerome Flynn, Matthew Macfadyen and Adam Rothenberg starred.