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Is ABC’s Big Sky Based on a True Story? Are Cassie Dewell, Cody and Jenny Hoyt Real Cops?

November 17, 2020
3 min read

ABC’s ‘Big Sky’ is a 10-part procedural thriller drama that sees the return of creator and executive producer David E. Kelley to the broadcast network, twelve years after ‘The Practice’/’Boston Legal’ franchise ended. Following two private detectives, Cassie Dewell and Cody Hoyt, who join forces with Cody’s estranged wife, Jenny Hoyt (a former cop), it showcases their journey to look for two kidnapped teenage sisters who vanished from a remote highway in Montana.

However, things take a turn for the worst when the three discover that these sisters are not the only girls who have disappeared from that area. So, they must race against the clock to stop the truck-driving, violent kidnapper before another female is lost, never to be found again. The premise of this series is harrowing, to say the least, and yet, it is that aspect, along with the brutal details in each episode, that makes us wonder whether the plot stems from a real story or not. So, let’s find out.

Is Big Sky Based on a True Story?

No. ‘Big Sky’ is not based on a true story. In fact, it is just a mere adaptation of ‘The Highway,’ a novel penned by C.J. Box, which happens to be the first book in his Cassie Dewell series. Neither of the private detectives, or the former cop who happens to have a history with one of them, or the victims – Danielle and Grace Sullivan – or the perpetrator himself are real people or based on real people. They are all just fictional characters that have been exaggerated and made to face some of the most terrifying and brutal crimes for our entertainment.

In saying that, though, when ‘The Highway’ was first released in 2013, C.J. Box gave a radio interview, to the Hugh Hewitt Show, wherein he revealed that the initial idea for this story actually came to him after he read about a real-life case – that of the FBI’s formation of the Highway Serial Killer Task Force, and their intense manhunt for a murderer who worked as a trucker. He said, “My youngest daughter was going to the University of Wyoming, which means from Cheyenne to Laramie driving over the top of a mountain called The Summit on I-80 with lots of truckers.”

C.J. added, “At that time, there were about 700 missing truck stop prostitutes around the U.S., and only one guy had ever been caught, but [the FBI] estimated that there were probably 10-12 of them who were preying on truck stop prostitutes that they call lot lizards around the country, and it’s a very difficult crime to solve, because, by the time they find out that somebody is missing, the guy could be 9 states away.”

This case stuck with C.J. Box because of his own familial circumstance. So, he decided to turn it around and write a book about it, filled with three-dimensional, complex, and realistic characters, along with events that have our hearts skipping a beat at every turn. Therefore, of course, ‘Big Sky’ is no different, especially with David E. Kelley (‘Big Little Lies’) being the showrunner.

However, the best part is that this series remains true to the book and provides a dose of escapism to its viewers, all the while highlighting topics that are profoundly relevant in the current socio-political environment. ‘Big Sky’ may be set in a small town in Montana, but it sure doesn’t shy away from tackling undeniable issues like race, women’s safety, and even COVID-19.

Read More: Where Is Big Sky Filmed?

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