Apple TV Plus’s newest offering Home Before Dark has all the makings of the perfect fictional murder mystery — a small-town crime, intrigue, secrets and suppressed lies.
The series tells the story of a nine-year-old girl, Hilde Lisko (Brooklynn Prince, The Lego Movie 2), who moves from Brooklyn to the small lakeside town her father Matt Lisko (Jim Sturgess, Across the Universe) once left behind.
While there, her dogged pursuit of the truth leads her to unearth a cold case that everyone in town, including her own father, tried hard to bury.
The series, which is described as a family drama, was created by Dana Fox (Ben and Kate) and Dara Resnik (Daredevil) and follows Hilde as she exposes the murder in her Pennsylvania hometown with her self-started newspaper, the Orange Street News.
While the storyline seems a little far-fetched, it’s not. The entire premise is based on a true story of a real nine-year-old super sleuth, Hilda Lysiak (now 13), who has since become the youngest member of the Society of Professional Journalists in the United States.
So, before you sink your teeth into this brilliant new show (after Tiger King of course), here’s everything you need to know about Home Before Dark.
When Hilde’s neighbour, and childhood friend of Matt, dies in an accident; the budding journalist begins an investigation into the death, while gathering clues and writing about it in her self-made newspaper.
Knowing that there is more to the story, she uncovers a mystery that even her ex-reporter father has tried to cover up.
While the series is based on true events, the central crime in the 10-episode series is fictional.
Showrunners Fox and Resnic did not adapt the real case, instead created their own for the show.
At the Television Critics Association panel for Home Before Dark on January 19 (alongside Prince and Lysiak), “Fox said that they “knew the stuff about her and her father, and that he got really sad and disaffected with journalism and quit his job and went to this hometown.”
“Basically Hilde said, ‘You may not be a journalist anymore, but I still am.’ And her pure of love of journalism is what brought him back to wanting to be a reporter again and brought him sort of back to life.”
“We wanted to find something that we could fictionalize, that we could sort of take leeway with so that it was super bingey,” Fox said.
“That was where we invented the idea of the abduction that he had been a part of. We wanted Matt and Hilde to have to sort of work together to solve this crime.”
Executive producer and director (of two episodes) John M Chu, said that Hilde “inspired” a lot of people to realise the “importance of truth, the importance of journalism” and “the importance of facing truths” which he says is not easy.
“Everyone has a different capacity of how much truth they want.”
Who is Hilde Lysiak?
Hilde Lysiak is a 13-year-old journalist from Pennsylvania in the United States, who started the newspaper Orange Street News in 2014. First written in crayon, the publication now has a website, Facebook, YouTube, and print subscription.
In 2016, Lysiak was the first person to cover a violent homicide in her hometown, breaking the news on her site and receiving pages and pages of negative comments from her community, saying that 9-year-olds shouldn’t be covering the murder.
Incredibly, the young prodigy then captured international attention by directly responding to her critics in a video on YouTube.
“If you want me to stop covering news, then you get off your computers and do something about the news. There, is that cute enough for you?” she said in the video.
WATCH: Hilde Lysiak respond to her critics. Story continues…
Lysiak appeared on a Television Critics Association panel for Home Before Dark on January 19 (alongside Prince and the showrunners) and said that she “didn’t know a time where I didn’t love journalism”.
My dad was a reporter for The New York Daily News when we lived in New York, and he was solving mysteries, and we were doing it together. So, when we moved to Pennsylvania he quit his job, but I was not ready to stop reporting.”
Then talking about the murder investigation, she said: “After I reported on the story of a murder, everybody in my town didn’t think that I should be doing it.”
“Not everybody, but there were a lot of people commenting saying I should be playing with dolls and not reporting the news. So, I made a video reading the comments about it,” she said.
“It wasn’t so much that it bothered me. It’s that I have little sisters, right, and they look up to me, and I didn’t really want them to see me being pushed around.”
In an interview with Forbes, Lysiak said that kids are a lot smarter than adults give them credit for.
“A lot of parents tell their kids that they can do anything, but they won’t even let them cross the street by themselves. So, I think you really need to give them room to show what they can accomplish and what they can do.”
Will There Be a Second Season?
Two months before its April 3 premiere date, Apple TV + announced that a second season had already been ordered.
Creator Fox told Deadline that she wanted the show to be “super bingeable” which added to the appeal of a second season.
“I think we just felt strongly that we wanted to make something that we had never seen before, a sophisticated drama with a young female at its core,” she said.
“We wanted parents to watch first and see if kids can handle it. Parents will decide with their kids. The tone was the most difficult thing to nail.”
Without giving any spoilers away from the first season, the second will start where the first one ended and will star Prince, Sturgess, Abby Miller, Kylie Rogers, Mila Morgan, as well as some new faces to join the show.
WATCH: The official trailer for Home Before Dark.