Fox’s ‘Accused’ ends its first season with the story of a singer charged with the death of his son, Leo. Titled ‘Billy’s Story,’ the episode recounts the events in the life of Billy Carlson and the final days of his son Leo’s life. Billy is in the final stages of cancer and is focused on releasing the last album celebrating his life and career. Things get out of hand when Leo relapses, leading the family to reconsider their priorities. It is a heart-aching portrayal of a family going through a tough time. Eventually, Billy and his wife find themselves in a position that can make or break their lives. This makes one wonder if someone could actually go through with what the Carlsons do. SPOILERS AHEAD
Billy Carlson is Not Based on a Real Person
No, Billy Carlson is not based on a real person. He is a fictional character created for the final episode of ‘Accused.’ His struggles, however, are real. Parts of Billy’s story remind us of a couple of cases where famous singers lost their children to drug abuse. In 2020, singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge took to social media to reveal the death of her 21-year-old son, Beckett Cypher, who died of an opioid overdose.
“Today, I joined the hundreds of thousands of families who have lost loved ones to opioid addiction. My son Beckett, who was just 21, struggled to overcome his addiction and finally succumbed to it today. He will be missed by those who loved him, his family and friends,” she wrote. The Oscar and Grammy winner talked about her grief and added: “We struggle with what else we could have done to save him, and in the end, we know he is out of the pain now.”
In 2015, Australian singer-songwriter Nick Cave’s 15-year-old son, Arthur, died after taking LSD and falling from a cliff. Reportedly, he had taken the drug with his friend her Rottingdean windmill and was seen by witnesses “staggering on a grassy area around the top of the cliff between Ovingdean and Rottingdean.” He fell minutes later and sustained a brain injury that claimed his life.
In ‘Accused,’ when Billy and Anne find their son overdosed on heroin, their first instinct is to help him, as they’d done many other times. Billy wants to do the same, but Anne wonders if this is what their son wanted. She destroys the injection that could have saved Leo, but she argues that their son had previously expressed dejection with life, and perhaps he overdosed because he wanted to die. Eventually, Billy is charged with manslaughter for going through with the act.
In 2002, Mary and Lewis Hockenbury were held accountable for being partially responsible for the death of their son Leonardo who died of a drug overdose. While Leonardo was with his friends when he took drugs, he had a history of overdosing and also selling drugs in the case that led to another victim dying of an overdose. The case against Hockenburys raised the question of the responsibility of parents towards their adult children.
“Certainly, there is a parental obligation with minor children, but with their adult children and people who may not be related, I don’t think so. The states don’t have ‘Good Samaritan’ laws [for those situations]. … You have a duty to not hurt, not to help,” the report said. With all this in mind, it is clear that Billy Carlson is not based on a real person. However, his struggles are a realistic representation of what parents go through while trying to help their children who have fallen into addiction.