Fox’s ‘Accused’ is an anthology series created by Howard Gordon, adapted from the British series of the same name. Every episode focuses on a different case, giving the audience a new story and characters to ponder upon. In the fifth episode, we follow the story of a drag queen named Robyn. She falls in love with a closeted gay man. Several complications arise between them, most of which have to do with the man’s own inability to accept his own sexuality. Blood is spilled and Robyn finds herself in the court of law defending herself in front of a jury that she knows is biased against her. The episode raises several questions for the audience, and the realistic depiction of events makes one wonder if it’s based on a true story. Let’s find out.
Is Accused “Robyn’s Story” Based on a True Story?
No, all episodes in ‘Accused’ are fictional in nature. However, the creators seek inspiration from real-life events and people to tell these stories and bring a touch of realism to them. When the script with a drag queen as a protagonist came to creator Howard Gordon’s attention, he took it to Billy Porter. Porter talked about the making of the episode with Pride Source, and said: “Howard Gordon saw the script and did the thing that allies are supposed to do and picked up the phone and called me because he knew that I was one of the people on this planet that could deliver that story in the way that it should be.”
For Porter, this was not only a chance to bring representation on the screen but also a way to reflect his personal experiences through Kevin, aka Robyn’s life. “It’s one of those moments where you just… I stand in awe of what has happened to me once I chose my own authenticity. I got a second chance. I failed as somebody else very early in my career, and I’ve decided to choose myself. And so when you watch that episode, it’s a manifestation of that. It’s a manifestation of living a true and authentic life, and I get to then be able to tell the story of what that feels like in a really real way.”
Porter called the episode a chance to have “tough conversations” and “create safe spaces to have conversations that otherwise are rejected.” In an interview with Jake’s Takes, he revealed that “the episode is ultimately about shame and choosing to free ourselves from shame or not and the consequences that come with that.” Relating it to his own experience as a “black gay queer out HIV+ man”, he related a lot of things with Robyn’s character and focused on the idea of freeing oneself from shame. We see Robyn’s boyfriend Jamie stuck in a place where the prejudice and the walls that he has created for himself become the reason for all the devastating things that happen in the episode.
Porter also noted that in his time, there was a clear lack of representation of black gay men on the screen, but all that has changed in the recent year, with him being instrumental in bringing about that change. “Something has cracked open where not only are there more types of stories being told with different kinds of people, but we’re also moving into this space where the actual people whose story you’re telling are the people who get to tell it. I am grateful to be on that trajectory in this business. It’s been a long time coming,” he said.
With ‘Robyn’s Story’, he continues on that path of bringing more of such stories to light and hopes that seeing them reminds the audience of “our collective humanity”. “There’s a dehumanization that’s prevalent in this world right now, and I’m hoping that my work can remind people of our collective humanity because that’s what heals,” he said. Considering this, it is clear that while ‘Robyn’s Story’ might not be based on a real story, Porter and other people who worked on this episode have done their best to make it as realistic and authentic as possible.
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