Is Tell Me Your Secrets Based on a True Story?

‘Tell Me Your Secrets’ is a thriller series centered on morally complex characters with mysterious and troubling pasts. Emma is in a witness protection program after the man she was in a relationship with turns out to be a serial killer. Emma was actually Karen in her past who goes through serious trauma during her incarceration. Mary, on the other hand, is a grieving mother of a missing young woman. She suspects that Emma has a role to play in her daughter’s disappearance.

Mary enlists John, an erstwhile criminal, to help her find Emma. John is on the road to redemption as we see the three characters desperately trying to find a firm footing on slippery grounds. These characters imbue within themselves dangerous secrets which keep us hooked on the quest to find their motives. As each of them is at the brink of moral turpitude, the truth is further convoluted, erasing the distinction between the victim and the perpetrator. So, let us find out whether the mysterious characters have any semblance of reality.

Is Tell Me Your Secrets Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Tell Me Your Secrets’ is not based on a true story. However, the characters’ situations and their criminal past were inspired by actual notorious criminal cases where the killer’s female partner is shrouded in mystery. The fictional story and the characters were written by Harriet Warner, who also penned the series ‘Dangerous Liaisons.’ Warner decided to associate Emma with a serial killer because she felt that their complicity was borne out of love and the ensuing trauma that stems from guilt.

These contrasting emotions are the central tenets on which the characters’ relations are hinged on. Another running idea of the series is the capacity to keep secrets within the dark corners of the human mind. These secrets refuse to come out even in the face of strong relationships, which raises the question — can we have intimacy without complete knowledge of the thoughts of our spouses? After all, Warner declared her interest in exploring the relationships where love blossoms despite huge truths waiting on the horizon.

Another show dealing with similar themes is ‘Behind Her Eyes,’ based on Sarah Pinborough’s best-selling novel. These complex characters and themes are ensconced in literary fiction, which corroborates our fascination with the secrets of other people. Harriet Warner tapped into this aspect effortlessly and created the layered narrative of ‘Tell Me Your Secrets.’

Woman in danger is a running trope of the series, but Warner negates the wilful introduction of this concept in her writing. She did not think of gender while writing the narrative, and she also said that the characters sort of drove themselves. She explained that the plot was centered around women and how society tends to judge feminine ideals. Moreover, the desperation of Mary’s character is driven by her loss. It gives her a platform to reinvent her purpose as she is determined to uncover the truth. In essence, the loss enables us to empathize with the character and follow her journey throughout the ten episodes.

Lily Rabe, who plays the role of Emma/Karen, was also motivated to join the cast because of the strong writing. She had given birth to a newborn and wasn’t eager to play such a mentally challenging role. Despite her reservations, Warner’s script reading session changed Rabe’s mind. She was hooked to the unique sensibility and approach behind Warner’s creation, and needless to say, so were we while watching the drama. Evidently, even though the series is not based on a true story, it details the human mind’s complexities and dangerous machinations.

Read More: Where Is Tell Me Your Secrets Filmed?