‘Surface’ is an Apple TV+ psychological thriller series created by Veronica West and directed by Sam Miller. The story revolves around Sophie Ellis (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), whose life will seem perfect to an outsider observer. She appears to have a loving husband and great friends and is part of the upper tier of society. And yet, a few months before the story begins, Sophie tried to take her own life by jumping from a ship near its propeller. The injuries she suffered weren’t just physical. She now has severe amnesia and remembers very little of her past life. As Sophie tries to regain normalcy in her life, she ends up going back to the question: If her life was so great, why did she try to end it?
In many ways, Surface’ is a classic mystery series. Each episode ends on a cliffhanger, expanding and further complicating the central mystery of the show. If you are wondering whether the plot of ‘Surface’ is inspired by actual events, we got you covered.
Is Surface a True Story?
No, ‘Surface’ isn’t a true story, nor is it based on any book. West wrote the script herself and served as executive producer along with Mbatha-Raw, Reese Witherspoon, and a few others. Asked in an interview with Screen Rant about her inspirations behind writing the series, West stated, “I think it all comes down to the premise. I was looking for a situation that could lead us down some really dark, twisty paths, and this idea that Sophie’s brain has essentially been rebooted by this injury, it’s really a terrible thing to happen but in some ways it’s also this gift. It’s a second chance for her to write all her wrongs or evolve into another person and it’s a second chance for all those around her to sort of shape the narrative of their relationship into what they wanted it to be. Now, that’s something that can come back to feel dishonest to Sophie as the season continues.”
West spoke in detail about her writing process with such a layered and complex show like ‘Surface’ during the same interview. “From the beginning, you write a five-page synopsis of what that season’s gonna look like and it continually develops and gets more detailed until we had a season pitch that all of these different moves were planned out,” the ‘Hart of Dixie‘ producer explained. “So, we got to go back and say, as a group of writers, which episodes are the best thematically, what ties together, what’s the most beautiful reveal, like the gala at the museum in episode 5 when Sophie gets to this truth or this secret, and map it all out — which is really the fun part of it.”
West revealed they always knew who Sophie was at her core and built the story by backtracking from it. “We see a loving marriage, we see a best friend. How can we get from that point to what we know to be the truth, which is a lot darker and a lot more complicated than that,” she said.
Mbatha-Raw told The New York Times that she was intrigued by the notion that Sophie herself was the mystery. She added that while there were plenty of amnesia dramas, she hadn’t seen one with a woman that looked like her serving as the protagonist.
To prepare for the role, the ‘Loki‘ actress couldn’t rely on her regular methods. “She [Sophie] is a blank slate, she is looking for clues, and her information comes from those around her,” Mbatha-Raw stated. “It was the opposite of creating a back story; here I was building the character as Sophie is building herself throughout the show.” Evidently, ‘Surface’ isn’t based on a true story, but it’s perfectly understandable if someone thinks it is.