Stories about an ordinary person who takes an investigation into their own hands are common in entertainment. But Apple TV+’s upcoming drama Home Before Dark features a child protagonist whose investigative journalism uncovered a looming mystery. Inspired by the real-life story of Hilde Lysiak, a young journalist whose investigative reporting went viral a few years ago, the series premieres on April 3.
According to Variety, Lysiak started a newspaper called the Orange Street News in her small town of Selinsgrove, PA when she was nine years old. Her journey as a writer became internationally known in 2016 when she delivered an exclusive report about a murder that happened near her home hours before an established paper.
Some detractors to her reporting believe she should be “acting like a child.” But Hilde responded to the negativity, maintaining that she didn’t start a newspaper so people would think she was “cute.” Now 13, Lysiak made history as the youngest member of the Society for Professional Journalists. And in 2019, she won the Junior Zenger Award for Press Freedom. Her successful career led to a book deal with Scholastic based on her life prior to securing this TV series about her life.
Her no-nonsense approach to journalism is evident in Home Before Dark’s intense trailer. In the clip, Hilde Lisko (Brooklynn Prince) and her family move back to her father’s childhood town of Erie Harbor. It’s clear that her father (Jim Sturgess) has a negative history with his hometown after an intense encounter with a local sheriff. Intrigued by the encounter, Hilde does some digging and she discovers that her father’s best friend was kidnapped in front of him years ago.
Hilde forms her own newspaper called The Magic Hour Chronicle and demands to see the police reports but she’s shrugged off by the authorities. She finally finds an inside ally and starts to pop up on local crime scenes to the dismay of her parents. At the end, her father encourages her to be smart and brave as she pushes forward for the truth. The trailer aesthetics suggest that the series might be set further back than 2016 which, if true, is likely for dramatization.
In fact, several elements of her story are fictionalized for entertainment, most notably her father’s involvement in the cold case. But Home Before Dark showrunner and co-creator Dana Fox revealed to The Wrap that a lot of the story’s key elements are fact-based.
“The true part of the story is that Hilde scooped the local paper on a murder, and she was right, and everybody slagged her off. And that [her father] got sad and disappointed with journalism and quit his job and went to his hometown, and basically Hilde said, ‘You may not be a journalist anymore, but I still am.’ And her pure love of journalism is what brought him back to wanting to be a reporter again.”
Fox also says she treats Hilde and Brookylnn as seriously as any famous male actor gets treated on a show with an investigative protagonist. It’s clear that this show wants to present her story in a thoughtful and respectful yet entertaining way. Apple TV+ renewed the series for season two back in January, so clearly the network has faith in Home Before Dark.
Perhaps Hilde’s story will encourage others to go for their passions at any age.
Image Credit: Apple TV+