Is Emily the Criminal based on a true story?

emily the criminalNetflix

Emily the Criminal, starring Aubrey Plaza, is a new hit film on Netflix, but is it actually based on a true story? Let us explain…

After a short theatrical run, Emily the Criminal is heading to Netflix. Starring Aubrey Plaza, this new crime thriller has taken many audiences by storm.

The film’s official plot is as thus, “Saddled with student debt and unable to find work, a college graduate becomes involved in a credit card scam, acting as a dummy shopper and buying increasingly risky products with stolen credit cards.”

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Now, crime films are often based on true stories, especially if they follow a singular person, but does that make it the case for this movie?

Is Emily the Criminal a true story?

Well, yes and no. It’s a little more complicated than that. See, Emily is not a real person, so in that way, Emily is the Criminal is not based on a true story.

However, the film is based on a real problem, which effects millions of people everyday. There probably is someone out there just like Emily, who could relate to this issue a lot.

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The film looks into the seedy underbelly of Los Angele’s criminal factions, as Emily falls deeper and deeper into the world of scamming and theft, and she realises how much she enjoys it and how good she is at it.

She participates a lot of “dummy shopping,” which is a form of organised crime, and according to Urban Dictionary, involves “Using stolen credit cards to purchase expensive goods.”

However, Emily isn’t – or at least wasn’t in the beginning – performing these acts just for kicks, but to regain control of her poor circumstances.

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See, Emily is a recent college graduate, and many graduates can likely relate to her struggle. Left with a mountain of student debt and with no jobs willing to hire her, Emily resorts to dummy shopping and scamming.

This is the aspect of the film that is based on a true story. With America’s currently struggling economy, job market, and student debt situation, a lot of young people can be left desperate, with no way of gaining any money. Desperate times call for desperate measures, hence the criminal activity.

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In fact, this theme of the film is derived from the real life of the movie’s director and writer, John Patton Ford. In a recent interview with the Golden Globes, Ford stated that he too was once in Emily’s position, and that this became his inspiration of the film:

“I had about a hundred thousand dollars of student debt when I came out of graduate school and I think I had a lot of anxiety and fear and depression about that…That’s what started it,” he said. Reportedly, Ford also lived in an Los Angeles neighborhood where a dummy shopping FBI bust once took place.

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So ultimately, while Emily may be fictional, there are many real people like Emily, including the film’s creator himself.

Emily the Criminal is currently available to stream on Netflix.

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