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Is Hulu’s Unprisoned Based On A True Story? Inspiration Explained

Hulu’s original series Unprisoned chronicles the elaborate dynamic between a daughter and her previously convicted father, and the truth behind the series emphasizes the progression that unconventional narratives have made in entertainment. Unprisoned perfectly blends comedy with drama to gently approach the profound transition of life after incarceration. The series follows Edwin Alexander, a man having to adjust back into the outside world following his release from prison—and his success depends on moving in with his estranged, perfectionist daughter, Paige.


The subject of Unprisoned is certainly a story that needs telling, as people leaving the prison system are known to face grueling barriers and complications upon reentry into society. Creator and executive producer Tracy McMillan, known for her writing credits on shows like Marvel’s Runaways and Mad Men, chose to represent this narrative in order to illuminate the realities of former offenders and also their loved ones, whose collateral trauma is just as important to process. Unprisoned’s narrative is especially significant to tell because it is based on a true story, and its efforts can touch the hearts of audience members experiencing or who have overcome similar realities.

Related: The 25 Best TV Shows On Hulu

Unprisoned Is Inspired By Tracy McMillan’s Life

Paige and Edwin Alexander in Unprisoned

Unprisoned is inspired directly from creator Tracy McMillan’s personal life; her writing career produced I Love You, and I’m Leaving You Anyway, the memoir that expands on her tumultuous childhood and laid the foundation for the Hulu series. Scandal superstar Kerry Washington embodies McMillan’s character equivalent, Paige, depicting the behavioral wounds that resulted from foster care. McMillan herself grew up a lonely child affected by the incarceration of her father, resulting in her bouncing from family to family and growing into adulthood with under-processed and debilitating trauma.

While the Hulu series is only inspired by McMillan’s life and is simply a conceptualization of what McMillan could only imagine life would have been like if her own father moved in after his prison sentence, Unprisoned is an all-encompassing account that many people can empathize with. Delroy Lindo, decorated actor anticipated in the upcoming movie Blade, plays Paige’s father, and his identifiable characteristics include simply trying to right the direction of his life and reconnecting with the people that he loves. The show and every character are easily empathized with, and Unprisoned encourages audiences to tap into themselves and their realities similarly to McMillan’s own exercises of critical reflection in the making of the series.

How Unprisoned Highlights Important Post-Incarceration Narratives

Delroy Lindo as Edwin in Unprisoned

Tracy McMillan has spoken directly about the multidimensional layering of her onscreen creation and has advised on how it can be used to benefit the larger scope of society. Unprisoned is a series that comments on the prison system but is also an observation of unspoken or muted narratives. In an interview with The Wrap Unprisoned was celebrated by McMillan, “It’s an opportunity to examine something as a society and as an individual, that you wouldn’t have a talking point without that show, that book, that play, that song. So to me, that’s the highest form of popular culture.

More: 10 Best Hulu Original Comedies, According To Ranker

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