Is Netflix's Unseen Based On True Events?

"Unseen" is making the rounds on Netflix, showing the lengths someone will go to find their missing husband. Zenzi Mwale (Gail Mabalane) is a regular cleaning lady waiting for her husband's release from prison — until she sets out on a killing spree after he goes missing following his release. It's a compelling story, leading many viewers to question if the limited series took inspiration from a true story. 

No, "Unseen" isn't based on true events, but it is an adaptation of a previous show, "Fatma." The Turkish series premiered in 2021, depicting an all-too-familiar story for fans of "Unseen." Fatma (Burcu Biricik) is a seemingly ordinary cleaning lady who, after her husband's disappearance after his release from prison, goes on a killing spree against her enemies. She uses her identity as a maid to get away with the murders, allowing social prejudices and conceptions to work in her favor. 

"Fatma" and "Unseen" are practically the same story, but Zenzi's desire to reunite with her husband is her driving force, while Fatma is simply a morally ambiguous character. Interestingly, both shows are streaming on Netflix, so viewers can experience what each hidden gem has to offer.

Gail Mabalane leads Netflix's South African adaptation

Although "Unseen" isn't an original story, it differs enough from "Fatma" to distinguish itself, with Gail Mabalane's performance carrying the South African adaptation. Zenzi is determined to find her husband to reunite her family, unlike Fatma, whose questionable morality pushed forward her own series.

However, Mabalane thinks what truly sets "Unseen" apart from "Fatma" is the South African setting. "I think what's very different is that Unseen is told through a very South African lens," she told news24. "We get to see a lot more and a different side of Cape Town. We get to see it very much within the South African context with the languages and the characters."

To present South Africa at its best and worst, "Unseen" was filmed in Cape Town, giving Mabalane the opportunity to stay close to her family and allowing her to get away from the darkness of Zenzi once filming wrapped for the day. During working hours, she threw herself completely into the character, feeling every experience as if it was her own. Afterward, she could shed all that baggage off, saying, "I would take off the costume, leave her there, and go, 'Okay, there you go Zenzi. I'll see you in the morning.'"

All episodes of "Unseen" are now streaming on Netflix.