How Much of ‘I Am the Night’ Is Based in Reality?

27475_007 One Day She'll Darken Episode 104 03.07.2018
Spoiler Alert
TNT/Clay Enos

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1, Episodes 1-4, of TNT’s I Am the Night]

TNT’s crime drama I Am the Night may be rooted in reality, but not all aspects of the series are factual.

The six-part limited series, which is currently four episodes in, continues to baffle audiences as they dive more deeply into the mystery surrounding Fauna’s (India Eisley) parentage, her grandfather’s connection to the Black Dahlia murder and Jay’s (Chris Pine) search for truth.

But how much of the drama and intrigue is actually real? It would appear taking stock in every detail is inadvisable.

'I Am the Night': 5 Things to Know About the True Story Behind the TNT SeriesSee Also

'I Am the Night': 5 Things to Know About the True Story Behind the TNT Series

Learn about the dark-side of Hollywood's golden days.

In the show’s latest chapter, “Matador,” the action began ramping up as Fauna was invited by her step-grandmother Corinna (Connie Nielsen) — the ex-wife of her known grandfather, George Hodel (Jefferson Mays) — to a “Happening.” The peculiar performance art event brought Fauna and persistent reporter Jay back together again after their short first meeting in the prior installment.

But it’s the event that brought them together that calls into question the show’s basis in truth, when Fauna comes face to face — or, rather, blunt object-to-head — with semi-stalker Sepp (Dylan Smith). The man who had been following Fauna since her days in Nevada and was revealed as one of George Hodel’s strong-arm lackeys came close to killing her before Jay stepped in and turned the sharpened wrench on her attacker.

Before viewers start buying too much into the scuffle, it should be known that Pine’s washed-up reporter is no more than a fictional creation. Without Jay’s real-life presence, it’s safe to say Fauna never withstood such an ordeal as fans saw in “Matador.” Of course, Jay isn’t the only fictional component to the show — Corinna isn’t a real person, either.

A simple bit of research on the heavily documented George Hodel would prove that the prim and proper Los Angeleno is no more than a curated character who fits the noir setting of I Am the Night‘s era. The show doesn’t ignore its reality roots, though; the real Fauna recounted her experience in the memoir, One Day She’ll Darken: The Mysterious Beginnings of Fauna Hodel.

Roush Review: 'I Am the Night' Delves into Hollywood's Deepest, Darkest CornersSee Also

Roush Review: 'I Am the Night' Delves into Hollywood's Deepest, Darkest Corners

Flawed hero, femme fatale, creepy villain: What more could a crime drama want?

As far as confirmed real-life characters in the series go, Fauna, her adoptive mother Jimmy Lee (Golden Brooks), Jimmy Lee’s sister Big Momma (Ebony Jo-Ann), George Hodel, and Tamar Hodel are among the short list. Fauna’s struggle to fit in as a “mixed-race” girl in the midst of the civil rights movement is also based in reality giving the show an authentic aspect to hold onto.

George Hodel’s oddities in the show are also somewhat based on truth as the prominent Los Angeles doctor ran in many circles from the art and film world. He was considered a prodigy of the time and like Jay mentions in “Matador” was believed to have performed abortions, which were illegal at the time.

The Black Dahlia aspect also has a ring of truth in it. Even though Jay’s not real, his belief in a connection between George and Elizabeth Short (the woman famously murdered in the ’40s) is considered accurate. Later on in life, George’s son, who had become an LAPD member, publicly accused his father of being the one behind the famous murder.

Ultimately, the series will have to prove whether or not it will dabble more in truth with only two episodes remaining. Until then, fans should enjoy the mystery for what it is — pure entertainment.

I Am the Night, Mondays, 9/8c, TNT