Need something new to marathon? Wondering where Toni Collette has been lately? Check out the new six-episode series created by Netflix and BBC called Wanderlust. Following a married couple trying to shake up their relationship, the show has already generated plenty of buzz. Those looking forward to the program may be wondering: Is Wanderlust based on a true story?
If you live across the pond, you may have already seen a few episodes of Wanderlust, as it began airing last month on BBC One in the United Kingdom. But for those in the United States, the joint BBC and Netflix venture drops on Netflix on Friday, Oct. 19. The show stars Toni Collette and Steven Mackintosh as Joy and Alan, a middle-aged married couple faced with a stale sex life. Following a near-death experience, Joy suggests they explore an open marriage, which eventually helps bring the steam back to their own relationship.
According to Nick Payne, Wanderlust's creator and writer, the story is completely fictional. "I honestly can't remember," Payne told BBC, when asked about his inspiration for the story last month. "It was years ago now that I started writing it as a play for the Royal Court Theatre, maybe 2009 or so? I think I just wanted to write about sex and relationships."
And when Culture Whisper asked Payne if any of the show's relationships were based on personal experiences, he responded with a laugh. "No is the short answer. It’s all made up, I’m afraid," he told the website. "I tend not to write autobiographically, I’m much more interested in the research bit and meeting people and hearing about their lives."
As mentioned above, Payne loosely based Wanderlust on his own play of the same name, which ran at the Royal Court Theatre in 2010, The Evening Standard reported. He also told the newspaper that news stories about online porn provided some inspiration to start writing the play all those years ago.
The show is also receiving a bit of attention for its particularly graphic sex scenes. News websites including The Mirror and The Sun posted roundups of the show's raciest moments. Additionally, a slew of people who caught Wanderlust on BBC One tweeted about how shocked they were by some of the sex scenes. Then again, in a show about an open marriage, what did people really expect?
But Payne wants viewers to know that the show is about so much more than just sex. “My concern is that the show is being contextualized as one thing, as one really particular thing, and I’m not necessarily sure that is what the show is,” Payne told Radio Times in an interview. “A narrative is emerging that the show should be raunchy, or it should be edgy, or it should be controversial, and it just is not that.”
Collette, who's passion for the project is unmistakable, agrees. "There is a focus on sex, but it's actually a by-product of something much deeper that Joy's going through," she told Digital Spy. "It's part of the character's arc and narrative, so it's not gratuitous in any way."
Even though Payne made it clear that Wanderlust is not based on reality, the show's characters are so fleshed out that you may have trouble believing they are entirely fictional. You can see for yourself this weekend, when you inevitably power through all six episodes at once.