‘Pieces of Her’ is a Netflix thriller series that delves into a mother and daughter’s shadowy past. When Andy watches her mother slit an attacker’s throat with ease, the young woman begins to wonder just how well she knows her family. The plot, which is based on Karin Slaughter’s 2018 novel of the same name, follows a twisting journey that reveals a remarkable truth that Andy’s mother Laura has kept hidden for many decades.
A seemingly dangerous group known as the Army of the Changing World remains ominously present in the backdrop through most of the narrative, eventually revealing Laura’s decades-old connection to it. If you’ve been wondering whether the Army of the Changing World is inspired by a real group, we’ve got some answers for you.
Is Army of the Changing World a Real Group or Movement?
No; first things first, the dissenting group depicted in the Netflix series (and the novel that inspires it) is not a real group. Army of the Changing world, on the show, is led by Nick Harp, who is a student at Stanford University (though it is unclear whether he graduates). The group is seemingly against big pharma companies that downplay the adverse side effects of their drugs in favor of profits.
Nick also seems to strongly dislike unchecked corporate greed and makes his feelings clear to pharma billionaire Martin Queller. Unfortunately, Queller is subsequently murdered at a conference, and Nick is forced to go into hiding after becoming the prime suspect behind the killing. The group is also blamed for kidnapping a professor, and flashbacks reveal that Nick masterminded an ink bomb attack that was meant to embarrass Queller on the world stage.
Though the extremist group is not real, it does have some real-world inspirations. In an interview, author Karin Slaughter revealed her long-standing fascination with cults and extremist groups that people dedicate their lives to. In fact, one of the first true crime books she read was Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry’s 1974 ‘Helter Skelter: The True Story of The Manson Murders,’ which is a first-hand account of the cases of prominent members of the Manson Family, including Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel.
The book seemingly had quite an impact on Karin and fuelled her fascination with groups and leaders who take violent action to achieve their goals. Apart from this, the activities of the fictional Army of the Changing World also seem to loosely draw from groups like ACT UP, which came to prominence in the late 1980s when the author was a teenager.
Formed around 1987, ACT UP (full form: AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) was a protest group aimed at drawing attention to the alleged lack of government action to stem the spread of AIDS and help those affected by the condition. The group became widely known for its dramatic interventions and outrageous stunts at public events, drawing attention to the issue. Nick’s idea of covering a pharma company head with ink during a global economic summit could be inspired by the author’s memories of ACT UP.
And so, despite the Army of the Changing World being a fictional group made for the benefit of a broader thriller plot, there are some intriguing sources of inspiration that it seems to draw from. Karin Slaughter seemingly has used her fascination with the subject of extremist groups, as well as some memories from her teenage years, to breathe life into the volatile fictional group seen in ‘Pieces of Her.’