While on a brief vacation back home, I decided to spend a few rainy days back home catching up on television shows that I had wanted to watch during the semester, but could never find the time to do so. One of these shows was the critically acclaimed TNT miniseries “I Am The Night” on Hulu, which stars Wonder Woman’s Chris Pine and India Eisley, who is most known for playing Ashley Juergens on The Secret Life of the American Teenager. The series was also directed by Patty Jenkins who you may have heard of considering she directed the 2017 movie “Wonder Woman”, which also starred Chris Pine. If your interests are not peaked already, here are 5 reasons you should stream this show!
1. Engaging and Mysterious Plot
The show follows Fauna “Pat” Hodel (Eisley), as she embarks to find out who her mysterious familial history, along with the help of reporter Jay Singletary (Pine). Fauna Hodel, who was raised as Pat Greenwade, by her black adoptive mother Jimmie Lee Greenwade, believed herself to be mixed race all her life, as she never knew the truth behind her origins. While she claimed to be mixed race, the black community she was surrounded by doubted this to be the case. As a result, curiosity gets the better on Fauna, and she soon discovers her real birth certificate, which leads her on this tumultuous path, where she gets most of her questions answered, but realizes maybe they were ones she never wanted to know.
While I had seen brief trailers of the show in January, I did not really know what to expect other than a thriller/mystery. At first, I assumed the show was some type of fiction in response to the horrific black Dahlia murder. However, at the conclusion of the pilot episode, I noticed creators chose to include real photos to remind viewers that Fauna Hodel was a real person, as well as many of the other characters in the show, including her adoptive black mother Jimmie Lee Greenwade.
2. Based On The Real Life Of Fauna Hodel
Like I do when watching any true crime show, I googled the story of Fauna Hodel and to my surprise much of what was spoken about in the show is true. This includes the incest that George Hodel, the grandfather, and father of Fauna Hodel, inflicted upon her mother and his daughter Tamar Hodel, as well as the trial that took place, which deemed her as mentally ill in what was determined “false allegations”. It also sheds light on George Hodel’s suspected involvement with the infamous Black Dahlia murder, where victim Elizabeth Short’s body was cut in half.
3. Chris Pine As Jay Singletary
Of course, major creative liberties were taken, including the fictional Jay Singletary. But anyone watching the show would most likely agree that Pine’s portrayal of the eccentric Singletary would be amiss. Viewers are given the background story that Singletary was at one point an aspiring journalist, but suffered PTSD from his time served in the Korean War. With a combination of charm, humor, emotion, and bravery, Singletary proves himself to be a hero, as he is determined to reveal Fauna Hodel’s truth no matter the cost. Even though a figure like Jay Singletary may not have crossed paths with the real Hodel, his character arc represents those more concerned with her finding the answers to her identity, instead of just using her to get more information about her famous grandfather.
4. The Chemistry Between The Two Main Characters
The chemistry between Fauna and Jay is electric and this was hard to do, as there was no type of romance between the two, but rather a mutual displacement in their respected worlds. Jay finds Fauna as he is still searching for answers regarding the Black Dahlia case, and he has a strong hunch that her grandfather/father played a major role in the incident. All she wants to do however is find her mother Tammar to learn details regarding her abandonment and who her father may have been. Fauna sees that Jay still struggles with his PTSD over his killings of soldiers in Korea, and she helps him eventually see himself not as a murderer, but her savior.
5. Historical Context
Not only does the show have impeccable acting and plot, but it also does a great job depicting race relations in the mid-1960s. It is unique to see how accepting many blacks were of Fauna, a white female, who come to find out, was actually from an incredibly wealthy background. The interactions between Fauna and her adoptive relatives is something special and showcases a more connected side of race relations at the time, rather than what we typically think of for this time period. This is not to say that the creators portray the time as anything but pleasant, as the idea of riots over police brutality against blacks is brought to the forefront to show that in some ways we have not evolved as much as we would like to think we have from over fifty years ago.
Almost Flawless But…
My only fault with the show is its short length. As a limited series, the show only has six episodes total and will not have any further seasons. While the ending tied up some loose ends, I was left with many questions surrounding the Hodel family. I feel a full ten-episode arc would have been able to tell more of the story and would have tied up loose ends in my mind about Fauna Hodel. But I think the point was to give a brief taste of her life and encourage viewers to want to learn more on their own.
So if you’re like me and love a good true crime, as well as Chris Pine, head over to Hulu or TNT and stream “I Am The Night”.