Is Who Killed Sara Based on a True Story?

‘Who Killed Sara’ (stylized with a question mark) is a classic murder mystery with Netflix’s signature stylish flair injected into it. The Mexican series follows Alex on his quest for revenge from the powerful Lazcano family for his sister’s death. And not just that, after being wrongly framed for her murder and tricked by the Lazcanos, Alex has spent the last 18 years in prison.

Hell-bent on getting even, Alex launches an attack on the family only to realize that his suspicion was wrong and that he does not know which member of the family is responsible for his sister’s death. A fictional murder mystery or a tragic real-life tale of misguided justice? Which is it? If you’re wondering whether ‘Who Killed Sara’ is based on a true story or not, we have some answers for you.

Is Who Killed Sara Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Who Killed Sara’ is not based on a true story. Originally titled ‘Quién Mató a Sara?,’ the series is created by the famous Chilean writer Jose Ignacio Valenzuela, who has a career spanning over 30 years writing scripts for films and TV shows as well as books for children and adults. Coming from a family of authors and having lived in Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Europe, and the US, Valenzuela has written over 20 telenovelas, including the award-winning ‘Santa Diabla.’

Valenzuela is open about his habit of including experiences from his own life in his work. In an interview with ADN Radio about his most famous literary work, ‘El Filo de Tu Piel,’ which is being made into a series by Sony Pictures Television, the creator reminisced about when he started his writing career in 2002 and said, “I went to my aunt Ana María Güiraldes (a well-known children’s literature writer) and she told me ‘lend the main character your past and your conditions, and it will not get out of hand because you are writing about someone you know.”

The protagonist of ‘El Filo de Tu Piel’ is a gay playwright who, after coming out of the closet, moves to New York and starts a torrid new life with a man he meets there. There are multiple similarities with Valenzuela’s own life here. We also see this clearly with a character on ‘Who Killed Sara’ – Jose Maria (Eugenio Siller),’ who Valenzuela has clearly based on himself. In the show, Jose and his partner, a gay couple, struggle to find surrogates as they try to have a child and also face disdain from Jose’s homophobic father.

In real life, Valenzuela is also in a same-sex marriage and has an adopted daughter. He is a vocal advocate of LGBTQIA+ rights and often talks about the inequalities he faces due to his sexual orientation. We see Jose show very similar indignation in the show to his parents’ closed-mindedness. Another influence on Valenzuela has been that of Augusto Pinochet, Chile’s military dictator from 1973 to 1990, under whose rule Valenzuela spent his childhood and early youth. The militaristic attitude of the head of the Lazcano family most likely draws from Pinochet, something Valenzuela has done in the past as well.

Apart from the characters, the plot of ‘Who Killed Sara’ itself draws inspiration from the creator’s childhood. Valenzuela is well known for his family dramas and mystery plots. In an interview with The Impartial (Oaxaca), the writer stated that he was a huge fan of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle whilst growing up. Interestingly, the plot of ‘Who Killed Sara,’ at its core, is a classic whodunnit – a style widely popularized by Agatha Christie.

In most of the novels of Agatha Christie, a murder occurs, followed by a list of possible suspects who are all part of the same family or a group of strangers, and each has their own motivation to commit the crime. Quite often, it is the least suspicious person who is the murderer. Despite starting as a revenge story, ‘Who Killed Sara’ very quickly becomes a murder mystery with the protagonist Alex as well as the audience trying to figure out who committed the murder. A not-so-subtle clue as to the inspiration for the story is also the starting of the first episode, which opens with an Agatha Christie quote.

Therefore, ‘Who Killed Sara’ is a work of fiction derived from real-life experiences from the creator’s life and inspired by the books he read as a child. Valenzuela, who is the first Chilean writer to write for Netflix, is helped by Rosario Valenzuela and Jean Pierre Fica in the writing process but gets sole credit as the creator of the show.

Read More: Where is Who Killed Sara Filmed?