‘Slow Horses’ centers around a team of British intelligence agents who — for a bevy of interesting faux pas — find themselves relegated to the “lowly” Slough House branch of the MI5. Amongst them is agent River Cartwright, who gets increasingly frustrated by the less-than-glamourous tasks assigned to him (episode 1 finds him sifting through the garbage of a potential suspect).
The Apple TV+ series follows the antics of the Slough House agents — their lives made all the more miserable by their cynical boss Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman). However, amid all the dark humor, the plot remains grim, following the agents as they deal with heinous modern crimes. The mix of comedy, crime, and general workplace malaise has a ring of real-life authenticity, making us wonder just how much ‘Slow Horses’ is based on a true story. Let’s find out!
Is Slow Horses Based on a True Story?
No, ‘Slow Horses’ is not based on a true story. The spy thriller series is based on the novels of Mick Herron, with the first six episodes of season 1 being inspired by the eponymous novel. The subsequent six episodes are based on the sequel novel, titled ‘Dead Lions.’ The two books are part of Herron’s broader ‘Slough House’ series of novels, which center around Jackson Lamb. The author actually won the Crime Writers’ Association 2013 Gold Dagger award for ‘Dead Lions.’ He is also the Script Supervisor on the series and revealed that the scripts had been suitably updated to be closer to modern times.
Despite the largely fictional nature of the books and the series, there are some interesting places that the author of the former has drawn from. Herron had an office job for over a decade, working as a Sub-Editor on legal journals for many years. The series of thrillers he wrote before the Jackson Lamb series also wasn’t commercially successful, leading the author to easily empathize with those who didn’t have “stunningly successful” careers. This inspired the cast of professionally lackluster characters that populate his ‘Slough House’ series and the subsequent show based on the novels.
Herron used his daily commutes to work to ideate on his novels, usually penning his ideas when he got back in the evening. His job as a Sub-Editor also helped hone his prose-writing skills. Interestingly, Herron also revealed that Jackson Lamb is influenced by the central character, Andy Dalziel, from author Reginald Hill’s books. Hill, who passed away in 2012, was an English crime writer who won the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement in 1995.
Another author who heavily influenced Herron is John le Carré (full name David John Moore Cornwell), who was known for his espionage novels and actually worked with the British agencies MI5 and MI6. Moreover, the character of Molly Doran from the ‘Slough House’ series is inspired by Carré’s character Connie Sachs. His literary inspirations aside, Herron also acknowledged that despite being fictional, his books are invariably a reflection of reality. Of course, this is most obvious in the dreary work life, drudgery, and petty arguments seen amidst the characters that work at Slough House.
Having said that, the author also pointed out that real occurrences in the modern world can sometimes eclipse even the more audacious plot points of his stories. Comparisons between the character Peter Judd, an ambitious right-wing politician who also appears on the show, and British politician and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, have also been made. Interestingly, Herron was a student at Oxford at the same time as the politician.
Seeing the variety of sources that Herron finds inspiration in, it is clear why the show based on his books feels uncannily authentic at times. Having imbibed his personal experiences as a writer and Sub-Editor, as well as aspects of highly accomplished crime and espionage writers, into his work, Herron creates a world that is intriguing, entertaining, and feels real enough to not be dismissed as completely unbelievable. However, his books from the ‘Slough House’ series are fictional, and so is the show ‘Slow Horses,’ which is inspired by them.
Read More: Is Slough House a Real MI5 Branch?
Is Servant of the People Based on the True Story of President Zelenskyy?
Created by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, ‘Servant of the People’ is a Ukrainian political comedy series about a high-school teacher named Vasily Petrovych Goloborodko (Volodymyr Zelenskyy). During one of his history classes, Vasily delivers a profane rant against the corruption within the country. A student films his tirade and posts it on the internet, making him an internet sensation. Seeing the success of his views, Vasily’s students enroll him as a possible candidate for the Ukrainian presidency. Things take a wild turn when the teacher is actually elected to lead his country and has to figure out how to manage his duties and eradicate the corruption within the administration.
The series presents strong opinions regarding the corruption within Ukraine and the public’s frustration with the same. It also emphasizes how a man’s determination can overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. The series gained popularity in the country due to its bold topics and hilarious punches. Many could not help but relate the show’s storyline to the real-life happenings within Ukraine. Is the story of ‘Servant of the People’ a reflection of Zelenskyy’s own life? Let’s find out together.
Is Servant of the People the Story President Zelenskyy?
‘Servant of the People’ is partially true to President Zelenskyy’s life story. To understand the connection between the comedy show and the life of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, one has to look no further than the similarities between the two. Though the show was created as a satire on Ukraine’s political landscape, the show’s and the lead actor’s popularity turned it into a reality.
Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy was born on January 25, 1978, into a Jewish family in Kryvyi Rih. Since the age of 17, Zelenskyy has been active in the comedy industry and can be seen in multiple movies and shows. His strife with Ukraine’s political arena started in August of 2014 when the then-comedian spoke against the ban of Russian artists from Ukraine, which went into effect in 2015.
Following Zelenskyy’s protests, his projects like ‘Love in the Big City 2’ were also banned within Ukraine. Zelenskyy was also prohibited from Russian media after it was claimed that Zelenskyy’s production company, Kvartal 95, had donated 1 million hryvnias to the Ukrainian army during the war in Donbas. Despite the double-edged ban, the comedian stayed firm on his stand of removing the ban on Russian artists within his country.
Zelenskyy then starred in the self-created political satire, ‘Servant of the People,’ which gained a huge fanbase since its inception in 2015. The show became a huge hit and the pivotal point that started the parallels between Zelenskyy’s life to that of Vasily Petrovych Goloborodko, the character he played in the series. Like Vasily, Zelenskyy’s entrance into the political arena was started by those around him. The show served as Zelenskyy’s equivalent of Vasily’s tirade, and Kvartal 95 took up the role of his main cheerleader. In March 2018, the production team registered a new political party named after the show. According to Zelenskyy, the registration was made to not let the significant name be used by anyone else.
However, the simple action was enough for the public to latch on. While Zelenskyy denied any intention of joining politics at the time, his fans accepted him as a potential presidential candidate. The reach became so widespread that the comedian was one of the prominent names in opinion polls in October of 2018 despite not having announced any intention to join the presidential race. Finally, on December 31, 2018, Zelenskyy announced his candidacy on the network 1+1, and it quickly became a huge deal. The news even overshadowed the incumbent president Petro Poroshenko’s address on the very same day, on the same network.
The announcement of Zelenskyy’s presidential campaign came less than four months before the elections, and it escalated his popularity among the masses. Unlike other candidates, Zelenskyy’s campaign did not involve the mainstream media. He reached out to the voters through social media and YouTube videos. Instead of rallies, the comedian conducted stand-up routines as a way to foster a relationship with the general public.
A few days before the Ukrainian presidential elections in April 2019, several major news outlets claimed that Zelenskyy was deliberately avoiding the journalists. The man in question denied the claims and stated that he did not wish to go on talk shows where “people of the old power” were “just doing PR.” He also claimed that he did not have time to satisfy all interview requests.
Given his public views toward the country’s political system and a stellar team behind his back, Zelenskyy won the elections and was inaugurated as the 6th President of Ukraine on May 20, 2019. During his term, the President has seen many ups and downs while maintaining the peace within the nation. Several of his proposals were met with resistance but were meant to better the financial situation of Ukraine. However, it was during the Russian-Ukrainian war in 2022 that propelled the comedian turned politician to international fame. Zelenskyy was recognized worldwide for his leadership during the conflict, and curious people could not help but look into his past, which led them to ‘Servant of the People.’
Our eagle-eyed viewers must have noticed that Zelenskyy’s presidential campaign was eerily similar to Vasily’s rise to the presidency. While ‘Servant of the People’ is not based on a true story, it was almost prophetic, predicting Zelenskyy’s popularity as a potential president and the role of the internet. It is easy to see that Vasily’s determination and passion for the political situation of Ukraine is a reflection of Zelenskyy’s views.
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Is Tully a Mermaid or Does Marlo Imagine Her?
Jason Reitman’s directorial ‘Tully‘ is a touching comedy-drama movie. It centers around Marlo, a mother who has recently had her third child and struggles to find a balance between her responsibilities and needs. Just as she is on the brink of burnout, she hires a night nanny named Tully, who comes each night to take care of the baby. Relieved at this new source of help, the new mom befriends Tully and starts getting back to things she used to love.
However, soon the newfound friendship starts harming Marlo’s already deteriorating mental health and she has a car accident. While she is immersed underwater, she sees Tully coming and rescuing her in the form of a mermaid. But is the night nanny really a mythical creature or a part of Marlo’s imagination? Let’s find out. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Is Tully a Mermaid?
Both the mermaid and Tully are pieces of Marlo’s imagination. After her son Jonah is born, she starts suffering from postpartum depression. Though it gradually gets cured, Marlo is overburdened with responsibilities at home and work. Since Jonah has an undiagnosable developmental disorder that causes anxious reactions to external stimuli, his mother devotes extra care and effort to making sure that he adjusts well to his environment.
Marlo’s workload increases when she and her husband Drew end up having an unexpected pregnancy. As she drags through without much of his help, she feels disconnected from herself and her family and starts seeking solace in watching erotica and mermaid videos on television. Craig, Marlo’s brother, pities her condition and offers to hire a night nanny for her, who shall come and help around once the baby is born. But she stubbornly refuses as she does not wish to hand over her child’s responsibilities to a stranger.
However, a few days after Marlo’s third child Mia is born, she gets overwhelmed due to exhaustion and sleep deprivation. Unable to carry out even basic functions properly, she contacts Tully, the night nanny Craig recommended. Her arrival proves to be a blessing for Marlo, and she gradually gets back to her life and passions. Moreover, both women become good friends and she starts confiding everything to Tully.
In the meanwhile, Marlo starts having frequent dreams of an unknown mermaid swimming toward her underwater, but she dismisses them away. As time progresses, her equation with Drew improves and she starts reminiscing about her old life as a young woman. Everything goes well until Tully impulsively suggests they go for an outing in the city one night. Marlo reluctantly agrees and the women drive to Brooklyn, where she used to live earlier with her roommate.
There, Tully declares that she is quitting the job, as her purpose of bridging a gap in Marlo’s life is fulfilled. Unfortunately, the latter panics and refuses to let go of her, as she has become an indispensable part of her life. Regardless, Tully helps her calm down and convinces her to drive back home. While driving, Marlo falls asleep and to save herself from an approaching vehicle, maneuvers the car into the river. As she is submerged underwater, she sees Tully coming to rescue her in the form of a mermaid, and passes out.
At the hospital, it is revealed that Tully is Marlo’s imagination of her 26-year-old self, as she seeks comfort from her current state in memories of her youth. When Marlo slips into postpartum depression again after Mia’s birth, she feels more and more afraid that her younger days are being left behind, and this dilemma coupled with exhaustion and sleep deprivation takes a toll on her mind. Thus, she creates Tully mentally, as a youthful respite from her worries. The mermaid figure is one more aspect of her imagination, where she often escapes her monotonous life by watching mermaid videos.
Both figments of Marlo’s imaginary world combine when she starts having bizarre dreams of mermaids after the night nanny arrives. During the accident, she faces a near-death moment and that is when she sees Tully and the mermaid merge into one to save her life. Later, at the hospital, she realizes that she needs to let go of Tully as it is harming her present life and bids her farewell. As Marlo recuperates and returns to her regular life, she stops seeing Tully or the mermaid, hence indicating that she is gradually healing from her mental agony, and does not need any imaginary getaway to escape into anymore.
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