What true story is The Clearing based on? Explained

May 25, 2023 (Last updated: 5 days ago)
Louie Fecou 0
Hulu, News, Streaming Service
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What true story is The Clearing based on? We discuss the popular Hulu series and debate whether it is based on real events. Spoilers ahead. 

If you are a fan of dark psychological dramas, you should check out the Hulu series The Clearing. The show is an Australian eight-part thriller set to send viewers down a twisted rabbit hole involving a cult that traps young people, initiating them into a nightmarish community.

Teresa Palmer and Guy Pearce are part of the ensemble cast that stars in this shocking drama, created by Matt Cameron and Elise McCredie. There is more to the story than viewers might first think.

Prepare yourself for an exciting look at the genesis of the TV show The Clearing as we examine whether it is based on a true story.

What is The Clearing about?

A recent review on Ready Steady Cut explains:

“The Clearing follows a woman who is forced to face the nightmares of her past in order to stop a cult from gathering children to fulfill its big plan.”

The show begins with a kidnapping that leads us to meet The Kindred. It’s a cult of well-mannered children with these blonde bob haircuts that introduce themselves to their new sister. The story unfolds from the point of view of Freya, one of the little girls The Kindred has abducted.

Freya relives her time with The Kindred after a kidnapping in her home city causes her to suffer from PTSD.

What true story is The Clearing based on?

The Clearing is based on a book called In The Clearing by well-known thriller writer J.P. Pomare. In the book, we follow two women, Amy and Freya. Amy has unfortunately been a part of the cult for a long time and has been brainwashed into doing all she can to please the higher members of the community.

When a recruit joins, the status quo is thrown out of kilter, and events escalate.

Their balanced life and a fraction of routine are in danger when a recruit is brought in, upsetting the status quo and leading to an escalation of events.

Meanwhile, ex-cult member Freya is trying to live an everyday life, but when a local girl goes missing, things start to look bleak, as the horror of her past life seems to be coming back to haunt her. The book is a work of fiction, but the premise of a female-led cult with a horrific and shady practice at its core is based on a real-life cult called The Family.

Who are the Australian-based cult, The Family?

The cult the book used as a starting point was the real-life Australian religious group called The Family. Formed in the late 1960s, the cult stayed active through the 1980s.

Like the book and the TV show, the cult would use drugs, abuse, and forced adoption to facilitate its community, and creepily, members would be forced to have identical hairstyles and wear the same clothes.

The bizarre and frightening cult was finally brought to a close in the 80s when police raided the HQ of The Family and saved the children forcibly adopted into their ranks.

Who is the leader of the cult, The Family?

The leader of the cult was Anne Hamilton-Byrne. She would be arrested and charged with various crimes, including fraud and false imprisonment, but would somehow escape conviction.

Hamilton-Byrne was originally a Yoga teacher and claimed she was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.

Her husband was Bill Byrne, also involved in the cult.

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