AMC’s Parish: Does the Crime Show Build on Real Events?

Developed by Sunu Gonera and Daniel Brocklehurst, AMC’s  ‘Parish’ is a crime drama series on AMC that chronicles the life of Gracián ‘Gray’ Parish during one of his most challenging periods. Gray is grappling with significant losses, including the death of his son, the crumbling of his marriage, strained relations with his remaining son, and acute financial distress. It is at this juncture that ghosts from a life that he previously led start creeping up on him.

Parish, once a getaway driver for criminals and gangsters in New Orleans, finds himself drawn back into that world when financial struggles become overwhelming. Taking a job as a driver for a criminal once again sets off a series of events that not only endangers Parish but also threatens the safety of his family. The crime drama TV series relies heavily on well-developed characters whose depth adds nuance to the storyline. The authenticity of these characters prompts speculation about whether the series draws inspiration from any true story on some level.

Parish Garners Authenticity in Different Ways

‘Parish’ is an adaptation of the BBC One miniseries ‘The Driver’, originally aired in 2014. Daniel Brocklehurst, the creator of the British series, also played a key role in co-writing and developing the American version along similar lines. Contrary to any true events, Brocklehurst crafted the story purely from his imagination and creative prowess. In interviews, he reflected on his lifelong passion for writing, which began in childhood when he would invent stories and lyrics, honing his skills over the years. When conceptualizing ‘The Driver,’ Brocklehurst revealed that his vision of having Dave Morrissey in the lead role influenced the development of the series.

Giancarlo Esposito, portraying the lead role in ‘Parish,’ expressed his enthusiasm for the series, revealing that he was already a fan before being approached for the role. Fully committed to the project, he not only embraced his role as the protagonist but also took on the role of an executive producer for the series. Esposito found resonance with the trajectory of the protagonist’s life, seeing parallels with his own experiences. By infusing his own emotions and experiences into the character, he believed that it added truthfulness to the portrayal.

While talking about how he was inspired by the original and if he took any creative departures from it, Giancarlo said, “Oh, I’m such an original in what I do—at least I strive for originality and strive for organic newness. Even the word remake; this is a reenvisioning on a theme, is the way I would put it. I loved what I saw in the original and was intrigued by it, but it was really the story and the journey of the man and the family that attracted me. Naturally, when you start writing it, the original was so good, and it was three two-hour movies, but we were asked to create six episodes. We were already in a land that’s different in terms of length and timing than the original, and we had to create a bible for more than one season.”

‘Parish’ has been remarkably authentic in portraying New Orleans, particularly in its exploration of the city’s criminal history. This depiction resonates with the historical context of New Orleans, which has long been known as a hub for gambling, bootlegging, and prostitution, especially during the Prohibition era. The city’s diverse cultural influences, stemming from French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean traditions, further enrich the narrative. The creators have also shown glimpses of underlying factors such as poverty, racial inequality, and systemic corruption that contribute to the city’s present social dynamics.

Above all, ‘Parish’ encapsulates the innate human capacity to persevere against insurmountable odds and to fight for survival at all costs. The show portrays the agony and despair of a man who has lost everything, which makes him adopt a role that is morally ambiguous and ethically challenging. It invites viewers to empathize with his plight and to immerse themselves in his journey. This deeply human element of the story resonates with audiences, as it prompts them to imagine themselves in the protagonist’s shoes and to experience the same emotions and struggles firsthand. It is this raw authenticity and emotional resonance that ultimately makes ‘Parish’ an unforgettable viewing experience.

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