Bored with Fictional Shows? These Series are Based on the Wildest True Stories

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From scandalous politics to gruesome crimes, these series will keep you on the edge of your seat (or couch).


A mini-series that has only four episodes tells the story of a girl from the orthodox Hasidic Jewish community. It is based on Deborah Feldman's biography, Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots, which made a lot of noise in its day and seriously offended some of the believers. Both the book and the series, in the first part, give the viewer the feeling of looking at something very intimate. And not just in the moments when the husband tries to have sex with his wife through a sheet, but in general — we know very little about life in the orthodox Hasidic community. And they do manage to live in modern New York according to their own laws, separate from ours.

The main character is Esty and her main goal should be to marry and have children. The more we learn about this world, the louder we shout at her to run, knowing full well from the beginning that she has already run away. To Berlin, where she found her mother and was even able to do something she actually likes.


The story is about a girl, Alex, who has to work as a maid to provide for her daughter. And nobody could help her: her ex is so busy with his war on alcohol that the girl has to run away from him in the middle of the night, while her own mother needs support herself, since she has bipolar disorder. The government seems to promise something, but the bureaucratic machine is slow and clumsy, and often takes a wrong turn. She grew up in a dysfunctional family, so she simply does not know how to accept care and help, and her decisions often lead to nowhere. Watching the misadventures is sometimes scarier than any thriller, but you somehow believe that Alex will be fine at the end.

The series is based on the bestseller Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive, in which Stephanie Land told the whole world her own story.

Masters of Sex

Another series with pioneers as main characters is Masters of Sex. Dr. Masters and his beautiful assistant Virginia don't have to survive as with the previous series, but they do have to explore human sexuality, or rather, explore human sexuality in the 50s, when only Freud could talk about orgasm without embarrassment. While their test subjects are copulating, wrapped in wires and various sensors, they record all the data, and sometimes participate in the experiment themselves.

The series is based on the biography of the same name, respectively, the characters have very real prototypes. Of course, the information available in the literary source was not enough to create three seasons, so the writers had to come up with some of the details themselves.


The series is about the very real story of the rivalry between two of the greatest movie stars, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.

The two former divas competed during their best years and continued to do so at the end of their careers, seemingly because they got used to it, on the set of a film. A psycho-biddy or simply hag horror, as critics have dubbed it. Using this strange material, Ryan Murphy creates a very human story of love, forgiveness, loneliness and fading. Because growing old is scary for everyone, not just Hollywood divas, and growing old alone is even scarier!

Mrs. America

The action takes place in the 70s in the United States: freedom, the struggle for rights, the birth of the feminist movement. But the main character is a conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, who launches a whole campaign against the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. She gathers around her an army of similar model housewives who want to preserve their privileges and do not want any equal rights (and responsibilities). This rhetoric is familiar to everyone living in the modern world.

It's funny that the main characters are so caught up in the struggle that they themselves become the working women they're up against. And the image of their leader is not very perfect either — it seems that with the help of her friends and associates she is trying to gain political weight and earn authority in the male dominated world.


It’s 1876, the town of Deadwood in South Dakota is a real cesspool that gathers the criminal scum from all over America. The murders get less attention than the girls dancing in the local saloon. This is the kind of unique western where the times of the gold rush are not romanticized, but shown as they were — in a very unsightly way. But you can’t argue with the creators, since the series is based on very specific events and personalities. Though, it had a lot of room left for writers to fill with their own interpretations of history.

The Durrells

The book and the series both tell the story of Gerald's family and their life on the island of Corfu before World War II. His mother, Louisa Darrell, tired of English stiffness, bad weather, and their own financial problems, takes her whole family to the sunny and completely non-touristy Greek island of Corfu. They settle in a large house without any amenities and gradually arrange their lives. Watching all this for some reason is unusually pleasant, you get attached to the characters, and you never really want to say goodbye to them.

American Crime Story

Each season is about a different crime that has left its mark on the history of the United States (and the world at large, of course).

The first season is about the famous trial of O. J. Simpson, the second season explores the murder of designer Gianni Versace, and the third season takes a pretty detailed look at what happened between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. And if you're not familiar with the details of the story, we strongly recommend you to watch the third season, Ryan Murphy sincerely sympathizes with Monica, the girl who fell in love with the charismatic politician, and ended up involved into the political scandal and listened to so many insults, that not many people could withstand. Murphy, like a true knight in shining armor, stands up for the girl's honor, albeit many years later.

Orange is the New Black

Piper Chapman is an ordinary Connecticut resident. She loves her quiet life and all its pleasant little things. Shower in the morning, a nice breakfast, sex. But it so happens that thanks to her fleeting affair with a major drug dealer, Piper finds herself imprisoned for fifteen long months. From now on, she must not only get used to her new surroundings, but also simply survive.

The show is based on Piper Kerman's 2010 book Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison. Sentenced to 15 months, Piper spent 13 months in a federal penitentiary in Danbury, Connecticut. In the series, Kerman's real last name was changed to Chapman.