‘Desperate Lies’ Is Not A True Story, But Heteropaternal Superfecundation Is Real

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: July 8, 2024 (Last updated: 1 weeks ago)
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Is Desperate Lies on Netflix based on a true story?
Desperate Lies | Image via Netflix

At a glance, the premise of Desperate Lies is ridiculous. A woman giving birth to twins with two different fathers? Nonsense, I hear you cry. But hold on a minute, dear reader. While the Netflix series might not be based on a true story, the concept isn’t fantastical. In a phenomenon known as heteropaternal superfecundation, a woman can indeed give birth to twins with different fathers.

In fact, not only has this happened in the past, but a specific case might have been the show’s inspiration.

What is Desperate Lies about?

It makes sense to briefly explain the core plot of Desperate Lies and then expand outwards from there. So, basically, the plot revolves around occupational therapist Liana, who is thrilled to discover she’s pregnant with twins… until she realizes that each twin has a different father.

The circumstances of this dual conception are a bit grim. Liana is married to Tomas, who’s cheating on her, and falls pregnant with him after a long time of trying. But she’s also raped by her friend’s brother, Oscar, while blowing off steam after discovering Tomas’s affair, and subsequently falls simultaneously pregnant to her abuser.

The rest of the show — which runs for a mammoth 17 episodes in true telenovela style — is about Liana trying to preserve the secrets of the twins’ parentage while the weight of secrets threatens to topple her life.

Is heteropaternal superfecundation real?

The phenomenon of twins having different fathers is called heteropaternal superfecundation and is real, albeit rare.

As your school sex education classes no doubt told you, a woman’s ovary generally releases one egg for fertilization. A single fertilized egg can split into two, producing identical twins, but two sperm cannot fertilize a single egg.

However, an ovary can also release two eggs, and those two eggs can be fertilized by the same sperm producing fraternal or non-identical twins. However, sperm can survive for up to five days in the reproductive tract. So, if a woman has two sexual partners within five days and while having released two eggs, heteropaternal superfecundation — in other words, twins with different fathers — can occur.

Is Desperate Lies based on a specific case?

Given the very specific nature of the above circumstances, heteropaternal superfecundation is rare, so there aren’t many well-known cases for Desperate Lies to have drawn inspiration from.

However, BolaVIP suggests that a Brazilian outlet, Veja Rio City, implies that Desperate Lies is based on the real-life case of Mia Washington, a Texas woman whose affair produced two twins with different fathers. Her partner, James, ended up raising both children on his own.

It’s worth pointing out that Veja Rio City is not sourced in the article, and some guesswork is clearly being applied. However, Washington’s case is one of the most well-publicized examples, so it stands to reason that if Desperate Lies was indeed based on a real case, it would be this one.

Read More: Where was Desperate Lies filmed?

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