Netflix’s ‘Keep Breathing’ follows the story of Liv, a lawyer who gets stuck in the Canadian wilderness while trying to make her way to an important meeting. Stranded in an environment that is way out of her natural habitat, she has to rely on her survival instincts to keep herself alive. Created by Martin Gero and Brendan Gall, the show offers the audience a thrilling ride, wherein one can see their own reflection in Liv’s actions as she comes up with ways to save herself. With no prior experience with the situation, Liv’s thought process and her reaction to success and failure feel very relatable. If that makes you wonder whether Liv is a real person and if ‘Keep Breathing’ is a true story, here’s what you should know.
Is Keep Breathing A True Story?
No, ‘Keep Breathing’ is not based on a true story. It is an original story written by Martin Gero and Brendan Gall. Both the writers are Canadian and have worked on many shows previously. In quite a few of them, their experience was to tell an American story filmed in Canada. They wanted to change that by setting a story, as well as filming it, in Canadian nature to give the audience a more authentic sense of the surroundings.
“We really wanted to, as Canadians, bring the world to Canada as Canada, and not have it be a substitution for something else. We started to come on this idea of trying to figure out how to get all of the world to the Canadian wilderness in a way that could also be thrilling,” Gero told City News. The use of nature in the story was also a great way to explore human nature while going deep into the psyche of a person caught alone in it. “It feels like there’s a survivalist instinct that has been activated in all of us. I think watching the most extreme version of that onscreen can be deeply, deeply cathartic,” Gero added.
Gero and Gall created a protagonist who is just another regular person with no experience in the wilderness to make the story more relatable for the audience. They wanted Liv’s survival instincts to seem very natural, which is why they allowed actress Melissa Barrera to add to the role by throwing in her own inexperience with the situation. In an interview with EW, Barrera explained how she was filmed “while feeling her own way” in the process of building a shelter and finding food. “She’s [Liv] a problem solver, but she doesn’t know much about surviving in the wild. Those moments are super real because they let me experience and do what I felt the character would do in that moment,” she said.
While ‘Keep Breathing’ is a story about survival in the wilderness, it also explores the personal and emotional challenges that Liv has to survive through. “She’s incredibly competent as a lawyer. She’s incredibly confident as a human in New York City. But she’s been on sort of a full-time mission to keep herself from herself,” said Gero. “Along with having to survive, get enough to eat, not die of the elements, she also is forced to sit with herself out there and sit in silence. She doesn’t have anywhere to hide. She’s forced to kind of reconcile her past in order to move forward through this landscape and into her future hopefully.”
Confronting her inner demons becomes an important part of Liv’s journey because that’s what decides how she’ll react in a given moment. She is caught in the trap of wanting to give up and pushing herself to keep going, especially after all the losses she’s faced. For Barrera, this role was the opportunity to explore Liv’s fractured state of mind. “I love seeing strong women portrayed on screen and at the epicenter of the story, but I also love that she is so broken,” she said. “It’s more of an emotional journey to seek answers to a lot of her childhood trauma, so the fact that she’s stranded in the middle of the forest alone and how she survives is a beautiful metaphor for what’s going on inside of her.” Considering all this, one could say that while the show does not take inspiration from a true story, it does an excellent job of exploring what it’d be like for a normal person to end up in such a trying situation.