The new family drama airing on Netflix, Northern Rescue, is a hit for all of the right reasons. It's the perfect mix of emotional and adventurous and it can be just as funny as it is heartbreaking. Plus, there are hints of romance every so often. It sounds like the perfect novel, right? So, I don't blame you for wanting to know if Northern Rescue is based on a book.
Sadly, nobody will be curling up on the couch with hot cocoa and catching up with the West family in novel-form any time soon. There is no evidence that the show is based on a book. It's not even based on one particular real-life event. But to hear Northern Rescue creator David Cormican tell it in interviews with outlets like Variety, the mosaic of real-life experiences that both the cast and crew bring to their work is what makes the show so relatable.
It's about a family who moves to a seaside town after the family matriarch, Sarah West, dies of cancer. Even if you've never experienced the death of a parent at a young age, maybe you were bullied, or felt academic pressure, or maybe you know how quickly a marriage can crumble after a miscarriage. If you can relate to any of those events, there's something in Northern Rescue for you.
“Almost everything you watch is going to be based on some nugget of truth that we’ve unearthed," Cormican told Variety in an interview before the show's premiere. Heartbreak, especially as it relates to death, is one running theme throughout the series that almost everyone on set could draw inspiration from. But everyone's stories are different.
"You put words on a page, but then the magic really starts to happen when everyone else starts to interpret it a little bit differently, and then they add all the different layers of their life and their own personal heartbreaks and sacrifices and losses and loves and joys and milestones," Cormican said.
For example, Billy Baldwin, who plays widower John West, saw the physical and emotional destruction that a natural disaster can cause in Jan. 2018 when the Thomas Fire spread to about two blocks away from his house in Southern California, causing a mudslide and forcing him to move his family to Santa Barbara.
He recalled a friend's story about rescuing a baby for the Canadian Press. "My friend rescued my other friend’s wife and children, and when he was there, he was talking to the cops and they heard a baby crying. This happened at 4:45 in the morning," The National Post reports Baldwin saying. “They looked down and there was a little baby that was being swept away in the current of the mud. She was in a basket of branches and leaves and she was covered in mud but her face was being protected by these branches. They heard her crying and they pulled her out of the mud — two years old.”
The younger actors' inspiration is less dramatic but they draw from their own experiences to help understand their characters' personalities. "She's really smart, driven, very witty," Taylor Thorne told The Record about her character Taylor West. "And she gets bullied sometimes. I moved schools a lot when I was younger. There was a lot of girl drama."
But despite the intense subject matter, the cast and crew support each other like a real family. Cormican told Variety that though the main cast members started out living in separate homes and hotels, by the middle of filming they were asking him to move them into larger homes so they could dorm together. "So we of course obliged to that request because we were creating this family dynamic off the screen as well." He continued, "I’ve seen close casts, but I’ve never seen people who spend 14, 16 hours on set [who] still want go home and live with [each other]."
It's definitely not based on a book. But at this point it's safe to say that in some really great ways, life is imitating art (and vice versa) on the set of Northern Rescue. You can stream the show right now on Netflix, so what are you waiting for?