A surprising number of scripted television shows are based on real people and true events, even if they don't always stick strictly to history. Here are five shows that are based on great adaptations of real people or true events...
Homeland narrates the story of CIA operative Carrie Mathison who is on the lookout for an American prisoner who may have joined forces with Al-Qaeda. Released from hostage after eight years, Marine Nicholas Brody becomes her suspect. Claire Danes plays Carrie Mathison, a CIA agent, in TV's Homeland whose role is based on the life of Valerie Plame who actually worked for the intelligence agency until her alias was leaked in 2003 after she failed to find WMDs in Iraq. Carrie Mathison character is inspired by Valerie’s life as a CIA operative. Like Carrie, Valerie was a highly trained, glamorous agent with a license to kill. While working undercover for the CIA, she spent long periods away from her husband and twins, on dangerous operations around the world. Her mission was to prevent terrorists from developing nuclear weapons and attacking the country.
This ABC drama stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, a character inspired by Judy Smith — a real-life crisis management expert who has become well revered among CEOs, celebrities and heads of state for helping them get out of trouble. Smith is the co-creator and an executive producer of the show, which first aired in 2012. In real life, Smith advised former president George H.W. Bush, infamous intern Monica Lewinski and NFL quarterback Michael Vick during their times of scandal.
This iconic show had Jerry Seinfeld playing himself. Sometimes he would be doing some of his stand up, but most of the time it showed him getting into funny situations with his friends Elaine, Kramer, and George. Most of these situations had to do with dating in New York. The plot lines were not only based on his own life, but writer, Larry David’s life as well. Hilarious episodes such as “The Revenge” is taken from the writer’s life from the time he worked at Saturday Night Live.
4. Mad Men
Although it is debatable if Don Draper actually personified a real life Ad man, the series certainly wove numerous real life incidents into the plot as the company continued to create magic with their ad campaigns and communication. Some examples are the approval the birth control pills in May of 1960, when Kennedy beat Nixon in November 1960, Marilyn Monroe’s death in August of 1962, the Cuban missile crisis in October of the same year, the devastating Kennedy assassination in November of 1963, The Beatles concert at Shea Stadium in August 1965 – the most famous concert in the history of rock, The Vietnam war – November 1955 to April 1975, Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in April of 1968 and The moon landing in July 1969 among many others. The show creators did not just weave these incidents as passing by but showed every character of Mad Men go through an array of emotions during these situations and how it affected the ad world.
5. 'The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story'
Popular series creator Ryan Murphy of 'American Horror Story' series, 'Glee' and 'Scream Queens' brings alive America’s most controversial and publicized criminal trial in ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story’ – The O.J. Simpson murder trial.
With its mix of race, gender, celebrity status and politics, the OJ Simpson trial gripped America in 1995 and 20 years after the verdict, Ryan Murphy’s 10-part series revisits and unfolds the events of the eight-month criminal trial wherein a famous basketball player and actor (O.J. Simpson) was accused of brutally killing his wife (Nicole Brown Simpson) and her friend (Ronald Goldman). The case that started off as a high profile celebrity case quickly went on to become famous with a magnitude that affected the American economy greatly costing the nation an estimated $480 million in loss output on the day of the verdict. The series focusses on exploring the chaotic behind-the-scenes dealings and manoeuvring on both sides of the court, and how a combination of prosecution overconfidence, defense shrewdness and the LAPD's history with the city's African-American community gave a jury what it needed: reasonable doubt.