I Am the Night captivated audiences from its promos to its ending. Chris Pine's performance as troubled journalist Jay Singletary, accompanied by India Eisley's performance as Fauna Hodel, kept audiences tuned in each week for the six-part limited series that aired on TNT. The series was inspired by the autobiography One Day She'll Darken: The Mysterious Beginnings of Fauna Hodel, written by Fauna Hodel before her death in 2017. For all those wanting to know what was real and what was embellished for entertainment, here it is!
10 Jay Singletary
This character is completely fictional. Chris Pine helped create his character. He added the improvisational shrieking in a knife-fight in one episode and diagnosed his character with PTSD. According to series screenwriter Sam Sheridan, Jay is based on characters that did exist in real life. There were reporters that were sued for libel and George Hodel won those cases, disgracing many reporters in the same way Jay is disgraced.
Jay's character is dynamic and integral in the entertainment sense, helping Fauna find out the truth and reinventing himself in the process by seeking justice once and for all.
9 Corinna Huntington Hodel
Like Jay, Corinna's character is also artistic embellishment. However, Corinna is based on a real person. Specifically, Dorothy Huston Hodel, George Hodel's second wife and an ex-wife of classic movie director John Huston. According to Dorothy's son Steve Hodel on his blog, Dorothy was artistic like Corinna, but in a different medium as she wrote for film and radio. The show's depiction of Corinna as an alcoholic was true. Steve describes his mother on his blog as an "alcoholic in the extreme". However, he speaks fondly of Dorothy completely, especially in her love for her sons and of nature.
8 Fauna Hodel
Fauna Hodel is truly and completely real. Her uncle, Steve Hodel, wrote an obituary for her on his blog. According to his post, Steve confirms the show's portrayal that Fauna's mother, Tamar, told hospital staff that Fauna's father was black, and this led to Fauna's adoption by a black family, who raised her in Nevada.
Furthermore, Steve adds that Fauna did meet her mother Tamar in Hawaii; however it was in the 1970s, and not the 1960s as the show depicts.
7 George Hodel
George Hodel is far from imaginary. His son Steve Hodel, a retired Los Angeles detective, believes his father is the infamous Black Dahlia killer. After George's death, Steve found two pictures in his father's possessions that he believed resembled the Black Dahlia. Like the show illustrates, George was a fan of Surrealism and sadomasochism, and was also known for throwing rakish parties involving sin and perversion. George was also a child prodigy, playing major piano concerts at nine years old (his gift for the piano is shown onscreen).
6 The Recurring Bull
The symbolism of the recurring bull in some episodes has an interesting, and true, backstory. Production designer Julie Berghoff discovered in her research of Hodel's life and home that Hodel liked to travel and collect sculptures of animals.
One of them was a small bull. She described Hodel as a "bull in a china shop", which is one of the reasons why the bull appears again and again. Creator Sam Sheridan adds that the bull is meant to represent "the evil in all of us."
5 1949 Trial
Unfortunately, this was a true occurrence. Tamar took the witness stand at only 14 years old in December 1949, while her father George Hodel was charged with incest. A defense lawyer, Robert Neeb, questioned Tamar with the intention of making her out to be unstable and a pathological liar.
This is not unlike the show's portrayal, in which Tamar is made out to be the bad guy and George Hodel made to look like the victim. Tamar later described an existence of abuse, fear, guilt and violence, covered by "bohemian glamour."
4 Jimmie Lee
Fauna lived with Jimmie Lee in Nevada, as the show illustrates. Jimmie Lee was an alcoholic at one point, and also a prostitute. Jimmie Lee's live-in boyfriend, Homer Faison, helped raise Fauna as his own. Fauna herself claims that Homer was the one that "instilled kindness in me." That riverting scene where George Hodel shows up at Jimmie Lee's house in Nevada and proceeds to stab her? That never happened. Jimmie Lee and Fauna remained close until Jimmie Lee's death, which is insinuated in the final scene of the last episode of I Am the Night.
3 Big Momma
The boisterous character of Big Momma, the matriarch in which Fauna goes to stay with in California in the show, was real. Big Momma was Jimmie Lee's mother, as depicted. Fauna stayed with Big Momma and other relatives while searching for answers about her past. Big Momma's character was a great source of support and understanding, especially during a time in which Fauna was at odds with Jimmie Lee over her decision to pursue the answers she was seeking about her background. We can only imagine what Big Momma must have been like in real life.
2 The House
Constructed in 1926, the unique and mystifying Sowden House lies on Franklin Avenue in Los Feliz. Architect Lloyd Wright designed the house with a Mayan Revival technique. Dr. George Hodel purchased it in 1945; an example of the degree of his unusual taste.
Featured as a setting in I Am the Night, the house sets the tone for the debauchery and immorality that we soon learn took place inside and the horrors behind the beautiful but strange home.
1 George and Fauna Hodel's Encounter
In the show, Fauna and George meet for the first time at a bus station as Fauna is on her way to Los Angeles. At the time, she does not realize who he is as he casually makes conversation with her. The encounter is true, but the way it is depicted is not. According to Fauna's autobiography, she and her daughter Yvette met George at a marina without realizing who he was. It was only as she was going through family photos did she find a photo of George and make the connection. Seriously spooky, but that was George Hodel.
From beginning to end, I Am the Night left us horrified but entranced, leaving us wanting more and wondering how it could possibly end. Now that it has, we have to wait and see if consumer demand will bring about further episodes in the future. Until then, we'll keep re-watching the mystery unfold.
What did you think of I Am the Night? Let us know in the comments!