FOX’s police procedural series ‘Alert: Missing Persons Unit,’ also known as ‘Alert,’ revolves around Nikki Batista, who heads Philadelphia Police Department’s Missing Person’s Unit (MPU). Nikki and her ex-partner Jason Grant are dealing with the disappearance of their own son Keith, which led the former to lead the MPU since she doesn’t want other parents to live without their loved ones. Jason eventually joins his ex and the two of them start to solve several missing person cases. Each episode of the series deals with a particular missing person case and the overarching storyline of Keith’s disappearance. Intrigued by these cases, we have found out whether they are based on real-life happenings. Here’s everything you need to know about the same! SPOILERS AHEAD.
Is Alert Based on the True Story of Real Missing People?
‘Alert’ is partially based on the true story of real missing people. Some of the missing-person cases that feature in the individual episodes of the show are based on reports concerning real cases. “Some of the stories are ripped from the headlines. We’re always looking for the most relatable and emotional core to the story,” co-creator John Eisendrath told Deadline. ‘Alert’ is co-created by Jamie Foxx, who learned about Amber alerts in detail when his daughter didn’t “come home one day.” The incident inspired the Academy Award-winning actor to conceive a show that explored missing person cases in detail.
Foxx then pitched the idea to Eisendrath, who also had a similar experience and scare when his son was out of his sight momentarily. These relatable experiences of the creators, combined with the real cases, form the foundation of the series. Eisendrath used his experience as a father to follow fictional or partially fictional “loved ones” at the heart of every missing person case that features in the series. “When you’re thinking about a missing persons story, it’s easy to start thinking about what would be a circumstance that just would be so terrifying or tragic or sad or serious. Everyone has their own fear of one. So the writers, we just imagine putting caring, loving people in that situation,” the co-creator clarified to Deadline.
Although certain real-life cases have inspired Eisendrath and his writers to conceive some of the missing person cases feature in the show, fiction acts as the series’ pillar. Still, the co-creator tries to make his series as grounded as possible to evoke the fears and concerns of his viewers. “I think missing persons also is something — which I thankfully was wrong — but experienced a few hours of thinking that one of my children had once been taken. And I think that it is something so many of us live with, so many of us fear, so many of us can relate to,” Eisendrath added.
Irrespective of whether the cases are fictional or real-life inspired, ‘Alert’ tries to represent the several real-life individuals and groups who went missing due to several reasons such as sex trafficking, as per Tyrin Turner, one of the executive producers of the series. Sex trafficking and forced prostitution are two of the several reasons behind abductions happening all over the world, as Zoey Roth’s case in the third episode of the show makes clear. In addition, Eisendrath and Foxx’s show tries to be authentic as possible. Kemi Adebayo in Nikki’s team heavily resembles a “background specialist” officer, who studies the backgrounds of evidence concerning a case to determine the location of the victims, Foxx met while learning about Amber alerts.
The most significant missing person case in ‘Alert’ revolves around the disappearance of Nikki and Jason’s son Keith, which is fictional. Eisendrath and his fellow writers conceived the same as a storyline “everyone can connect to.” Furthermore, he wanted to explore the irony of two MPU officers missing their own child. “You have this great irony of the two experts who spend all day trying to find other people’s missing loved ones who have lost a loved one of their own and then are so desperate to get him back that they may miss some clues that other people see about whether or not he is their child,” Eisendrath explained in the same Deadline interview.