Is Love & Death on HBO based on a true story?

Daisy Phillipson
Elizabeth Olsen as Candy Montgomery in Love & Death on HBO

Is Love & Death based on a true story? The new crime series will soon drop on HBO Max, but is it based on real events?

Elizabeth Olsen and Jesse Plemons take the lead in the upcoming seven-episode Max Original limited series, which follows “two churchgoing couples enjoying their smalltown Texas life… until an extramarital affair leads somebody to pick up an axe.”

It’s bound to be a hit with the crime junkies out there, not least because of Olsen’s outstanding performance as the Fairview housewife who carries a dark and deadly secret.

With Love & Death set to premiere its first three episodes later this week and plenty of hype about the show, here’s what you need to know about whether Love & Death is based on a true story.

Is Love & Death based on a true story?

Yes, Love & Death tells the real-life story of Candace “Candy” Montgomery, the Texan housewife who was accused of murdering her friend Betty Gore after having an affair with her husband, Allan Gore.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z778sJGKB3E

Though it seems on the surface to be an open-and-shut case with a clear motive – to get her lover back – there is more to the story than meets the eye, as you’ll discover in the HBO Max series. 

Betty was shockingly bludgeoned to death with more than 40 blows of an axe on Friday, June 13, 1980. When Candy was accused of wielding the weapon, the media dubbed her “The Friday the 13th Axe Killer”.

We won’t give too much away for those not familiar with the case, but what we will say is Love & Death deals with the incident in great detail, with episodes focusing on the run-up to the event, the affair between Candy and Allan, the deadly attack, and the subsequent court case. 

Alongside Olsen as Candy and Plemons as Allan, Lily Rabe takes on the role of Betty, while Patrick Fugit stars as Candy’s husband Pat Montgomery, who in real life stood by his wife as the gruesome situation came to light. 

Elizabeth Olsen and Jesse Plemons in Love and Death

Love & Death is based on Jim Atkinson and John Bloom’s book Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs, which details the case using testimonies from the Gore and Montgomery families.

Oddly enough, the upcoming HBO series isn’t the first to adapt the story for TV – just last year, Hulu released its own show simply titled Candy, with Jessica Biel as the accused killer and Melanie Lynskey as her friend and victim.

Although there’s clearly been a lot of coverage of the scandal, what’s surprising is how many people aren’t familiar with the details. In an interview with Sirius XM, Olsen herself admitted that when she first read the script and the Texas Monthly article on Candy Montgomery, she thought it was “short narrative fiction.”

“The saying, ‘It’s stranger than fiction’ – it’s that and more,” she said, adding that the show “exposes why people make the decisions they make, even when they’re questionable choices.”

Love & Death Episodes 1-3 will be available to stream on HBO Max from April 27, 2023, with new episodes dropping weekly thereafter. Check out our coverage on other HBO shows here

About The Author

Daisy is a Senior TV and Movies Writer at Dexerto. She's a lover of all things macabre, whether that be horror, crime, psychological thrillers or all of the above. After graduating with a Masters in Magazine Journalism, she's gone on to write for Digital Spy, LADbible and Little White Lies. You can contact her on daisy.phillipson@dexerto.com