Missing: Is Unfiction Based on a Real Netflix Show?

‘Missing’ is a thriller film written and directed by Will Merrick and Nick Johnson and a spiritual sequel to 2018’s ‘Searching.’ It revolves around June Allen, a teenager who learns of her mother’s mysterious disappearance during a vacation in Colombia. As a result, June must rely on her wits and knowledge of technology and social media to find her mother before it is too late. The true crime-like plot features June watching a streaming series ‘Unfiction,’ which retells stories of real-life crimes. Hence, viewers must be wondering whether ‘Unfiction’ is a real show. SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Truth Behind Unfiction in Missing

In ‘Missing,’ protagonist June Allen (Strom Reid of ‘Euphoria‘) is a technology and social media-obsessed teenager like many of her peers. As a child, June enjoyed filming videos with her father, who died from a brain tumor when she was very young. It is implied that this childhood trauma pushes June away from her mother, Grace Allen (Nia Long of ‘You People‘), into the virtual world. June is an avoid true crime watcher, and we see several news reports on her computer screen that confirm the same. One of June’s favorite shows is ‘Unifction,’ a Netflix true crime series she is seen streaming in the film’s opening and closing acts.

In the film, June watches an episode of ‘Unfiction’ revolving around a missing person’s case. The series is not an actual television series but a fictional creation that exists only in the movie’s world. The show’s title seems to be a tongue-in-cheek reference to sensationalization and dramatized versions of true crime incidents that real true crime documentaries and docuseries use to captivate audiences. Furthermore, the fictional television series serves as the connecting tissue between the 2018 mystery thriller ‘Searching’ and ‘Missing.’ The latter is a spiritual sequel to ‘Searching.’

In the opening minutes of ‘Missing,’ Jane watches an episode of ‘Unfiction,’ which covers the case from the first film in the franchise of screen life thrillers started with ‘Searching.’ In the original film, John Cho stars as David Kim, who searches for Margot Kim, his 16-year-old daughter who disappears under mysterious circumstances. The episode of ‘Unfiction’ June watches retells the events surrounding Margot’s disappearance but with actors portraying people from the true crime case. The final moments of ‘Missing’ feature June watching another episode of ‘Unifction.’ This episode is based on June’s own story and her search for her mother, Grace.

While watching the episode, June quickly realizes that true crime shows cannot be considered an actual representation of real people and their suffering in some of the most excruciating circumstances. Thus, the movie provides subtle and poignant social commentary about the nature of true crime shows. Ultimately, ‘Unfiction’ is not an actual show but a narrative tool used to further the character arc of June. It is similar to real Netflix true crime shows such as ‘Unsolved Mysteries,’ which seemingly capitalize on the storytelling format by bending real narratives and sensationalizing them.

Read More: Is Missing (2023) Based on a True Story?