Dear Evan Hansen, a teen drama based on a stage musical, was released on September 24, 2021. Following Evan Hansen’s high school experience, is the story based on a true story?
Teen dramas will never go out of style, because either you’re currently living that experience, or it takes you back to the good ol’ days.
Filled with school troubles and love triangles, that’s what makes them a guilty pleasure – that’s why To All The Boys I’ve Ever Loves and The Kissing Booth hit the Netflix top spot.
The latest teen film to drop was Dear Evan Hansen on September 24, 2021, and although it’s not about the usual puppy love, the movie addresses a serious teen problem, so is the plot based on a true story?
Dear Evan Hansen plot explained
Pitch Perfect star Ben Platt portrays Evan Hansen, an introverted high school student with social anxiety, who finds himself amid school gossip.
Recommended by his therapist, friendless Evan writes letters to himself to highlight the positive aspects of his life, and when his letter gets discovered by his school bully Connor Murphy, who commits suicide a few days later with the letter in his hand, he is mistaken as Connor’s best friend.
Evan continues the facade throughout the film until he confesses the truth and posts it online.
The film addresses the social phenomenon of how people react to the death of people they ‘know’, pretending as if they were truly linked to the deceased. As playwriter, Steven Levenson said, “whenever a celebrity would die or something tragic would happen, there was this outpouring online of people kind of making it about themselves”.
The original Broadway musical was critically acclaimed, winning six Tony awards and Ben Platt becoming the youngest recipient of the Best Performance award.
Is Dear Evan Hansen a true story?
Yes, Dear Evan Hansen is loosely based on a true story – Washington Post reports the plot was inspired by lyricist Benj Pasek’s “traumatic event” during his high school life in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Producer Stacy Mindich revealed:
“A student in [Pasek’s] class died tragically of a drug overdose. It was someone who had been sort of a loner, didn’t have a lot of friends or status at school, but suddenly in the wake OF the death, Benj watched as everyone wanted to claim that they had been friends with him and claim that they had been a part of this person’s life”.
That tragic event was the start of Dear Evan Hansen, but the rest is all fictional. Pasek adds, “This show started as a seed, and we never thought it would grow into anything more than that,” he said.
If you want a deeper look into the storyline, you should have a look at Val Emmich’s bestselling novel of the same name. Published in 2018 and inspired by the musical, the book offers a more detailed account of Evan’s decisions in handling the lie and why he did so.
In other news, Is Dear Evan Hansen a true story? The inspiration behind the musical explored