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4 TV Shows You Might Not Know Were Inspired By a True Story!

Written by Anya Bergstrom. Published: September 13 2023
(Photo: Netflix)


In this day and age where non-scripted shows and documentaries are all the rave, we love a good show that is based on a true story. Whether it’s historical dramas or crime podcasts (calling all true crime girlies!), media that is inspired by true events seems to easily pique the interest of viewers. While many true story retellings of real people and real events have grown in popularity in recent years, such as “The Dropout”, “Dr. Death”, and “Candy”, here are some lesser known TV shows that are also inspired by a true story. Beware: any resemblance to real life characters and events is completely intentional!


1. "GLOW"

Did someone say "female Fight Club"? Because this series inspired by true events is exactly that. “GLOW” tells a fictionalized version of the women’s professional wrestling circuit, Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW), founded in the 1980s. The series follows struggling actress Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), who auditions for a professional wrestling promotion campaign called GLOW. Drama ensues as these ladies have to navigate their professional acting careers, which are surprisingly more intertwined with their personal lives than they think. Strap in for a wild ride – or rather, a wild match. Stream on Netflix.




2. "Special"

"Special" is a show that is based on show writer and star Ryan O’Connell’s memoir I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves. The series is a semi-autobiographical re-telling of his life as a gay man living with cerebral palsy. Ryan plays an unpaid intern at a content creation company and the show follows his life in Los Angeles as he navigates new friendships, lovers, and the stigma around his disability. The show is light-hearted yet poignantly emotional, an inspiring but comedic tale that shows us that living with a disability doesn’t have to be impairing, and the important thing to a fulfilling life is to stay true to yourself.Stream on Netflix.




3. "Dickinson"

WhileEmily Dickinson is far from unknown (thank you, high school English class!), her own story may not be as familiar to all as her incredible fictional works. “Dickinson” is a comedic re-telling of Emily Dickinson’s life story. It follows Emily’s (Hailee Steinfeld) life as an aspiring poet as she fights against the cultural and gender norms of the time to express herself artistically. The show expertly blends modern language with historical events, all while keeping true to its integral themes of female empowerment and the exploration of female sexuality. Not to mention, “Dickinson” features some pretty unexpected guest stars:Wiz Khalifa playing Death, John Mulaney playing Henry David Thoreau, andBilly Eichner as Walt Whitman. If you’re looking for a historical drama spruced up to the tone of a YA fiction novel, this is a must-watch for you! Stream on Apple TV+.




4. "How To Sell Drugs Online (Fast)"

This German dark comedy follows the life of high school teenager Moritz Zimmermann, who goes from selling ecstasy online to impress his girlfriend to being involved in large scale drug trafficking. The series follows Moritz’s seemingly normal high school life, all while he balances the elaborate drug empire he accidentally created. The story, while pretty far-fetched, is based on the true story of Maximilian Schmidt, a Leipzig teenager who started a drug ring from the inside of his childhood bedroom. In real life, Maximilian’s drug earnings were seized by the German government after two years of operating his drug-selling website and he was ultimately sentenced to seven years in prison.Stream on Netflix.