Is In from the Cold Based on a True Story?

‘In from the Cold’ is an espionage action series that follows Jenny Franklin, who is revealed to be a former elite Russian spy after living undetected in America for twenty years. When a former CIA operative discovers Jenny’s secret, she is forced to take on a sinister conspiracy. We also see the protagonist’s origin story through flashbacks, where she undergoes harsh training as a young spy in Russia.

Though some aspects of the show (like body-morphing) seem to be from the realm of fiction, other parts, especially those dealing with international espionage and terrorism, seem ominously real. There is also mention of some intriguing experimental warfare techniques. So just how much of ‘In from the Cold’ is based on reality? Could it be based on a true story? Let’s find out.

Is In from the Cold a True Story?

No, ‘In from the Cold’ is not based on a true story. The show was created by Adam Glass, who also penned the narrative along with a team of writers. The idea for the premise was one he had from much before the meeting with Netflix, where he pitched ‘In from the Cold’ and subsequently got a series order. According to Glass, the action spy series imbibes a lot of his previous projects — his work on ‘Cold Case’ and ‘Criminal Minds‘ seemingly inspired the procedural elements of the show. The showrunner has also drawn from his well-known involvement in comic book writing (‘Deadpool Pulp’) and related areas to give his show slightly sci-fi angles like body morphing and mind control.

Image Credit: Samantha López/Netflix

Interestingly, the otherworldly aspects of the show, like body-morphing, are seemingly also inspired by Glass’ work on ‘Supernatural.’ Grounding special powers with an emotional core and making them seem more authentic is an aspect of ‘Supernatural’ that has clearly been carried over to ‘In from the Cold‘ and can be seen in Jenny’s frequent struggles with her morphing ability.

Of course, for a narrative with so many different angles, some aspects are inevitably drawn from real-world experiences. Glass uses his observation of women in their 40s (like the protagonist), their untapped potential in society, and the questions of identity that arise in them to inform a central character that essentially leads double lives and has multiple identities. The combination of a spy drama with questions of self-identity is, as the show creator said, a perfect marriage.

The show also draws authenticity from its Russian heritage, and, in an interview, Glass revealed that one of the show’s writers was a Russian refugee who immigrated to the United States. Lead actress Margarita Levieva, who essays Jenny Franklin, grew up in Russia and underwent rigorous training as a rhythm gymnast — both aspects that make her relate to the script (especially the character of Anya, who is Jenny’s younger self) and bring authenticity to her own character.

Despite its sporadic authentic depictions of some real-world aspects, ‘In from the Cold’ is a decidedly fictional narrative that blends a variety of entertaining plot points and twists to entertain viewers. The showrunner’s previous work also reflects in his show and adds a further layer of creative blending of ideas (Soviet era spies that body-morph)! Of course, there are some intriguing real-world stories of actual Russian spies apprehended in the US. However, ‘In from the Cold’ is almost entirely in the realm of fiction.

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