Developed by Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay, ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’ is a mystery–adventure series that follows a ragtag group of surprisingly skilled spies who make it to the secret-shrouded boarding school known as the Institute. Little do they know that they are recruited by Mr. Benedict, a scientist from an alternate universe who is concerned about the evolution of the socio-political environment of our world.
He believes that the anxieties that threaten social cohesion emanate from a secret educational institute and are deliberately propagated to disturb harmony by targeting people using subliminal messaging. Now, the young spies must use their intellect and empathy to take on their mysterious rivals to save the world. The exciting story of these kids fighting for the greater good has impressed viewers worldwide who may be curious to learn more about the show’s origins. In case you are wondering about the same, we have got you covered.
Is The Mysterious Benedict Society Based on a True Story?
No, ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’ is not based on a true story. The series is an adaptation of Trenton Lee Stewart’s popular young adult book series of the same name. Speaking about his inspiration for the book, Stewart named one of the chapters from J. R. R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ titled ‘Riddles in the Dark,’ which revolves around Bilbo Baggins and Gollum’s riddle contest. The author was mesmerized by the life-or-death stakes of their contest, and since then, he had always wanted to write a book that was entirely based on a similar theme.
Stewart’s experience of studying in classes for gifted students, coupled with his mother’s extensive teaching experience, eventually led to the creation of the now-famous book that follows extraordinary children, who, despite putting their lives in danger (like Bilbo Baggins), fight for the greater good. However, the television adaptation of a book series that has a considerable fan-following comes with its own challenges. Although Stewart is the consulting producer for the mystery-adventure series and is involved in the show’s ideation and adaptation process, the writers still had a crucial role to play.
Talking about the series, the writers pointed out that although there are benefits one can drive from the book’s fanbase, it is still a double-edged sword as one can possibly disappoint many fans if the essence of the story somehow gets misrepresented in the adaptation. So, they have to not only ensure that they don’t experiment too much with the crucial plotlines of the source material but at the same time, come up with something that the people who have read the book are not expecting. Therefore, the writers have stayed true to the book, but there are still some creative additions to the plot.
Another interesting aspect of the series is its relatability with the modern political climate. Everyone is well-aware of the misinformation age we are living in, which has fueled the political divide that now threatens to push the human race towards isolation, fascism, and hatred. It is similar to the anxieties caused by deliberate subliminal messaging that we see in the show. Talking about the same, co-developer Phil Hay explained in an interview that nowadays, even children are not spared by the tide of anxiety that has shockingly been normalized. He wanted to explore how one can navigate these experiences and get to the bottom of the problem to fix it.
The series primarily deals with these questions and gives the message that only through empathy and kindness can one truly find a solution to the issue. These themes have amalgamated to create the foundation of the mystery adventure series. So, even though ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’ may feel real because of its relatability with the contemporary political climate, the show is driven by a fictional narrative that takes inspiration from some of these modern concerns and is based entirely on Trenton Lee Stewart’s book series.