Is 'The Hunting' Based On A True Story? The Drama Tackles Issues Surrounding Revenge Porn

Channel 5

Television has always been the perfect place to spark meaningful conversations, and Australian series The Hunting is a great example of that. Inspired by stories raised through the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the show follows four teens as they become embroiled in a scandal involving the sharing of explicit images. But is The Hunting based on a true story, and what inspired the show's creators to explore the intricacies of these issues?

Regardless of how much time you spend on social media, the way you present yourself online can differ drastically to how you perceive yourself IRL. As modern life is so digitally connected, when a problem arises online, it can cause issues outside the screen, and vice versa. And this is what show creators Sophie Hyde and Matthew Cormack use to anchor The Hunting's overall narrative, and to present the question: "[H]ow can we humanise the actions surrounding online consent and privacy?"

Speaking to Antidote ahead of the Antidote Festival in August, Hyde and Cormack explained how the show came to be, and the messages they intended to convey. "[Australian broadcaster] SBS actually came to us as a company [Closer Productions] and asked, 'have you got a show that will spark a conversation?' That inspired us to think about things that were going on at the time, and things that we cared about that weren't getting as much airplay," Hyde said.

"There were a bunch of different instances where kids were sharing images of their friends and peers online," she continued. "It was indicating that there was a real problem among young people, about power and consent because those images in general, the ones that we were interested in, were not really shared with sexual gratification in mind, but were being shared with a sense of wanting control and power over other people."

Channel 5

During an interview with The West Australian, Jessica De Gouw, who plays Eliza Dunsford in The Hunting, also raised the important issue of how the younger generation are being taught about social constructs, and how it needs to change. "The conversations are really about our ideals of masculinity, our ideas of social construct of gender, the way we are teaching boys what it is to be a man, and the way we're telling girls what they should endure," De Gouw said. "That's the real conversation here and that's a conversation that applies across every generation."

To tell this story accurately, Hyde and Cormack spent a significant amount of time researching how young people intimately express themselves online, and also taking note of the situations unfolding in the media. "As we were developing the show, the Harvey Weinstein exposé happened and the #MeToo movement began, and there was a conversation around what it means for the show to be set in 2016," Cormack told Antidote. "Should we set it now? Is the conversation different? With image-based abuse, the conversation in essence had not changed or shifted, so we set it in the now."

SBS Australia on YouTube

As the Guardian points out, the real-life ramifications of sharing nonconsensual images was brought to viewers attention a few weeks before The Hunting premiered. In July 2019, 25-year-old Mitchell Brindley became "the first person to be charged under Western Australia's new intimate image laws," the newspaper explains. According to the Canberra Times, Brindley "admitted creating five Instagram accounts in his ex-girlfriend's name and posting 10 nude photographs of her over four days in April, after they broke up."

The Hunting premieres in the UK Sept. 30, 2019, on Channel 5 at 10 p.m.