I Am the Night: Is the Series Inspired by Real People?

Created by Patty Jenkins and Sam Sheridan, ‘I Am the Night’ is a drama series that follows Fauna Hodel (India Eisley), a young Caucasian girl who lives with her mother Jimmie Lee Greenwade (Golden Brooks) in an African American community. Always the subject of scrutiny by her neighbors and alienated by them, Fauna goes in search of her birth parents after finding out that she’s been adopted. Her search leads her to Los Angeles, California, where with the help of Jay Singletary (Chris Pine), a journalist, she uncovers her family roots and the dark secrets attached to them.

The story is a slow-paced mystery thriller laced with a slew of flawed characters that are no different from the people one meets in real life – all of them have things they would rather not disclose and would go to great lengths to hide. Of course, being a thriller, the secrets and the different ways to hide them all lean toward the extreme. But the human aspect of the characters remains nonetheless and makes one question just how true-to-life these people on the screen are. Well, just like you, we wondered the same thing and went diving into it. Here’s everything that we found out!

I Am the Night is Based on Fauna Hodel’s Memoir

Yes, ‘I Am the Night’ is a true story. It is based on the memoir of the real-life Fauna Hodel, titled ‘One Day She’ll Darken: The Mysterious Beginnings of Fauna Hodel.’ The book was published in January 2008 and instantly became the topic of conversation because of the secrets it spoke about. Admittedly, these secrets had long been in the public eye for decades, but the book provides a unique perspective on the events that transpired. Fauna Hodel’s story begins long before her birth, with the horrific murder of an up-and-coming actress named Elizabeth Short in 1947.

Often referred to as Black Dahlia, Elizabeth Short’s murder case remains unsolved to date. True crime enthusiasts everywhere would definitely be familiar with the gruesome case. ‘I Am the Night’ is set in the 1960s, over a decade after the brutal and clinical murder took place. The prime suspect, in this case, was Dr. George Hodel, a surgeon. This was due to the fact the victim’s body was carved up intricately, which the police concluded was done by somebody with experience with a scalpel.

As per reports, no evidence was found against him, though. However, George Hodel was never truly cleared off the list of suspects, for the police were still bugging his house in 1950. In fact, one of the recordings from the wiretap has George saying, “Realise there was nothing I could do, put a pillow over her head and cover her with a blanket. Get a taxi. Expired 12:59. They thought there was something fishy. Anyway, now they may have figured it out. Killed her.”

Image Credit: KOLO TV

What’s closer to home for Fauna Holdel is the fact that George was accused by Tamar in 1949 of sexually assaulting her, a case for which he was later acquitted. The reason this is relevant, and which ‘I Am the Night’ addresses as well, is because George has been allegedly suggested to be Fauna’s real father. However, an investigation by ‘Root of Evil Podcast’ using Fauna and George’s DNA proves that they weren’t father and daughter.

Despite its many twists and turns, at the core of it, ‘I Am the Night’ is a story about a young girl grappling with her identity in terms of race and family legacy, being an adopted child. But that also never deterred Fauna Hodel from being anything but the best version of herself. “I’ve never met anybody who told me a story like this. And it was told by such a beautiful and wonderful spirit; the combination of those two things ignited me, and I’ve wanted to tell this story for a long time,” Patt Jenkins said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, about her experience speaking with Fauna and what inspired her to tell her story on-screen.

In the same interview, co-producer and writer Sam Sheridan revealed that Fauna’s story is ultimately about a woman who had gone on a challenging journey and found peace at the end of it. “There were so many fascinating elements, but particularly she was a woman who had set out to find out who she was and found out the worst things were true,” Sheridan explained to the Hollywood Reporter. “And yet, she had found peace, and that journey was fascinating to me.”

Though the show is credible in its details about Fauna Hodel’s life and that of the Hodel family, it does mix in some fictionalized elements to narrate this true story. The most prominent of these imaginative elements is the character of Jay Singletary, which is depicted in the series by Chris Pine. Through Jay, ‘I Am the Night’ keeps the story together and down a linear path, which makes it easier for the audience to understand all the twists and turns as well. And it is these twists and turns that make Fauna Hodel’s story seem stranger than fiction, despite being a true narrative.

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