Netflix’s Celebrity: Is the Show Based on a Real Life Influencer?

Directed by Cheol-gyu Kim, Netflix’s ‘Celebrity’ is a South Korean mystery drama show that unveils the glamor and scandal surrounding Seoul’s online influencer community. A low-income worker, Seo Ah-ri somehow ventures into the world of e-celebrities in search of money and success. In the process, she peels the curtain back and peeks behind the staged personas of Seoul’s most influential. However, after gaining considerable popularity herself, Ah-ri decides to expose the industry’s true colors.

Starting a live stream, Ah-ri discloses the story behind her rise to fame, sending the city’s high-society influencers’ lives down a spiral. Draped in high fashion with a critical commentary on classism, ‘Celebrity’ delivers an enthralling tale through the life of elite socialites. With an array of backbiting influencers and their interpersonal drama, the show examines themes of fame, jealousy, and social privilege. Due to the show’s focus on online celebrities and their lives, viewers might be curious to know if the show has any truth behind it. Let’s find out!

Celebrity is a Fictional Story

‘Celebrity’ is not based on a true story. The characters and events explored within the plot are all works of fiction created by the show’s screenwriting and creative team. However, by centering the narrative around the world of social media, the show inherently holds a connection to the real world. During the show’s development, director Cheol-gyu wanted to focus on authentically portraying social media’s presence in people’s lives due to its crucial role in the narrative. Citing the grip the considerably new technological advance has on the younger generation, the director wanted to infuse motifs of online culture into the story by employing modern trends and fashion.

However, on a deeper level, the show also depicts the addictive hold online relevance and celebrity culture have on the general audience. Influencer culture is a rapidly growing industry in South Korea. According to statistics, 95% of the country has an online presence, and 85% is on social media. Additionally, Instagram, the platform showcased in ‘Celebrity,’ is the second most popular platform among the younger generation. As such, social media and the influencer culture that comes with it is a highly relevant topic in South Korea.

In fact, the themes explored within the story have a more significant global relevance since it tackles the timeless topic of celebrity worshipping. In contemporary society, people fanatically obsess over various celebrities, from Taylor Swift to Lionel Messi. Across industries, popularity and fame seemingly come hand-in-hand with a cult-like following. This phenomenon has gotten more noticeable and prevalent since social media’s emergence. Therefore, the story showcases a socially pertinent splice of life by presenting e-celebrities like Oh Min-hye alongside Yoon Shi-hyeon, who carries societal significance without an online residence.

Similarly, the show discusses class and privilege by pitching its financially bereft protagonist against wealthy individuals. Through the gradual exploration of the upper-class world, the show repeatedly needles the entitlement and legal freedom that people with wealth possess. As the story progresses, and Ah-ri’s popularity with it, her character undergoes a subtle but noticeable change that comes with her social standing. In doing the same, the show makes statements about wealth disparity’s impact that many viewers might be able to relate to.

Over the years entertainment industry has seen multiple TV shows and movies with a kindred subject matter as their foundation. The show uses “bbbfamous,” an omnipotent mystery account with a vendetta against the city’s most affluent, morally ambiguous individuals, to add further drama and intrigue to its storyline. As such, viewers may find undeniable parallels between ‘Celebrity’ and the late 2000’s infamous teen drama series, ‘Gossip Girl,’ featuring Blake Lively and Leighton Meester.

As a conglomeration of all these details and their connection to reality, viewers are bound to find familiarity within the show’s storyline. With gripping mystery built around engaging characters, ‘Celebrity’ provides ample entertainment while still having a sense of social relevance and realism. Nevertheless, it’s not based on actual events or people.

Read More: Where is Netflix’s Celebrity Filmed?