Anthony Van Biervliet’s Dutch Netflix drama show ‘High Tides’ closely follows the lives of three young people in the beachside town of revelry and richness, Knokke. Daan Paroti, a biracial young teen, arrives in town with his mother, Melissa, to spend his summer familiarizing himself with the new area and the experiences it can offer. Consequently, he catches the eye of Louise Basteyns, a wealthy girl who has bipolar disorder. The spark between them could have promised a summer romance unlike any other if it weren’t for Louise’s boyfriend, Alexander Vandael. Worse yet, the other boy might just have a connection to Daan’s missing aunt, Claudia.
The show delves into the chaotic and dramatic lives of wealthy teenagers in Knokke and Daan’s precarious inclusion in it. Through the complicated dynamic between the central trio, the show presents a tale ripe with friendship, romance, and betrayal. However, the question remains: is there any truth behind Daan, Alex, and Louise’s experiences?
Is High Tides Based on a True Story?
High Tides, better known by its original title ‘Knokke Off,’ is not based on a true story. As a drama, the show is entirely a work of fiction created for entertainment purposes without the intention of paralleling or emulating real life. Yet, as with any good drama, the show’s narrative relies on presenting relatable storylines and characters to compel the viewers to empathize with the tale unfolding on the screen.
Screenwriter Luk Wyns, who co-wrote the series alongside Nele Vandael and creator Biervliet, is well-versed in crafting such fictionalized but relatable stories for the screen. Viewers might recognize him from his well-loved Flemish sitcom, ‘Familie Backeljau,’ rich in comedic but grounded characters. With ‘High Tides,’ a similar scene unfolds. More than the events explored within the show, the characters that make up each storyline’s narratives inform the story’s sense of realism.
The protagonists, Daan, Louise, and Alex, each present a different version of reality that the younger population can find relatable. Through Daan, the show touches upon the struggles of being biracial, particularly in a less diverse environment. Furthermore, his standing as the only character who isn’t ludicrously rich provides a specific insight that many people will appreciate. Yet, most of all, his experiences as a flawed teenage boy with volatile emotions present a compelling story about the mistakes and joys of youth.
On the other hand, Alex, a young boy perpetually haunted by his past and his father’s anger, introduces a nuanced take on the classic spoilt rich kid cliché. While the boy certainly fills up the cracks and crevices of a stereotypical spoilt brat character, he also showcases moving vulnerability. Likewise, Louise presents a similar narrative highlighted by her bipolar disorder, which defines a majority of the trio’s evolving dynamic.
In fact, through Louise’s character and her struggles with bipolar disorder, the show ends up providing a great representation of a relevant real-life issue. According to SingleCare statistics, 46 million people have bipolar disorders in varying degrees across the globe. As such, by authentically displaying the nature of this mental health disorder, Louise’s character imparts invaluable realism to the show.
Lastly, the combination of these storylines creates a riveting account of betrayal, teenage love, and familial drama, as each character’s experiences and personalities overlap and clash with each other. Therefore, through different storylines, whether it be Alex’s struggle with his father’s domestic abuse, Louise’s complicated family dynamics, or Daan’s social life, viewers can find a number of different experiences that may reflect their own realities.
Nevertheless, these storylines remain fictitious in nature, without any specific real-life inspirations behind them. The show’s creative team, including the aforementioned screenwriters and director Tom Goris, fabricated the details explored within the narrative with the intention of creating a gripping and relatable drama. Consequently, the show only utilizes the reality of Knokke’s famed, expensive lifestyle, defined by its beaches and nightlife, to tell a fictional story about fictional characters.