Is Unbelievable Based on a True Story? Full Story Explained

Unbelievable Overview

“Unbelievable” is a true crime mini-series available on Netflix, which focuses on a series of rape cases that occurred in Washington State and Colorado. The show stars Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, and Kaitlyn Dever, and was co-created by Susannah Grant, Ayelet Waldman, and Michael Chabon. It was released on September 13, 2019, and produced by Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly, and Katie Couric. The series is based on a 2015 news article titled “An Unbelievable Story of Rape” by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, and their 2018 book “A False Report.” The show has received widespread critical acclaim.

Is Unbelievable Based on a True Story?

“Unbelievable,” an eight-episode series on Netflix, portrays the real-life story of an 18-year-old woman named Marie (portrayed by Kaitlyn Dever) who was raped by an intruder in her Lynwood apartment. During the investigation, the police charged her with filing a false report, showing little regard for the trauma she had endured. Three years later, two female detectives (played by Merritt Wever and Toni Collette) in Colorado uncovered a series of sexual assaults with the same modus operandi and connected them to Marie’s case, providing evidence that she had been telling the truth all along.

Marie Adler Real Story

The compelling true crime series portrays the real-life account of Marie Adler, an 18-year-old woman from Washington state, who reported being raped by a masked intruder in her home. However, the detectives investigating the case accused her of fabricating the incident, further traumatizing her.  The heart-wrenching narrative, created by Susannah Grant, the screenwriter of Erin Brockovich, is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning article published in 2015 as a joint project by T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project.

When Marie reported the rape, she was repeatedly questioned by the police to recall every detail of the incident. As revealed in Miller and Armstrong’s article, Marie began to contradict herself and eventually recanted her report due to the pressure from the investigation. She was then charged with filing a false police report and accepted a plea deal that required her to pay $500 for court fees.

According to Armstrong, when the police began to doubt Marie’s account, they turned against her and interrogated her as a suspect instead of a victim. This resulted in Marie buckling under pressure and recanting her story, which provided a sense of relief for her as though she had unburdened herself.

Unbelievable Plot

Marie was repeatedly questioned by the police about the details of her rape, causing her to contradict herself and ultimately recant her report. She was then charged with making a false police report and accepted a plea deal that involved paying $500 in court fees. According to Ken Armstrong, one of the journalists who reported on Marie’s story, the police’s focus shifted from investigating the crime to questioning Marie’s credibility, leading to her being treated as a suspect instead of a victim. This pressure caused Marie to recant, which she described as a relief. Armstrong believes that police are now more aware of the dangers of skepticism towards rape victims, as it can reinforce the belief that many rape claims are false, creating a harmful cycle.

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