'Waco' Tells a Chilling Story but How Much of It Is Actually True?

Abi Travis - Author

Apr. 20 2020, Updated 2:53 p.m. ET

how accurate is waco netflix
Source: Paramount

Two years after its premiere on the Paramount Network, Waco has officially landed at Netflix. The six-episode miniseries is a dramatization of the events of the 1993 Waco siege that lasted for 51 days and ended in tragedy. The Netflix show also ends in tragedy, but just how close does the show follow real life? How accurate is Waco on Netflix? Read on for more info.

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How accurate is ‘Waco’ on Netflix?

Brothers Drew and John Erick Dowdle are the masterminds behind the Waco miniseries. Initially, they were working on a completely different project and had decided it would be interesting to include a character who had grown up in a cult. While researching the stories of real-life people who had grown up in cults, they came across a book by David Thibodeau, a survivor of the Waco siege. They decided they wanted to tell the story of Waco in their next project.

how accurate is waco netflix branch davidians
Source: Paramount
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“The Branch Davidians were just so different than what we were told” Drew said in an interview with Decider. “Reading this book was just totally, completely counter to what we believed they were. And then one thing led to another and we went out to Maine to meet David [Thibodeau] and soon after that we met [FBI Negotiator] Gary Noesner and started putting these pieces together, thinking this just makes such a complicated, misunderstood story.”

After learning just how complicated the story really was, the Dowdle brothers set out to set the record straight — or set it straighter, at least. “We didn’t believe we had the true story before, but this one felt like it’d been told incorrectly all these years and it was about time that people see a different side of this,” Drew said.

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And thus, Waco the miniseries was born. Waco certainly offers a much more holistic view of the siege — whereas many documentaries tend to paint the Branch Davidians as unnuanced bad guys, Waco attempts to offer a more sympathetic view both of David Koresh and the people who followed him (while still not shying away from sharing some of the truly horrifying aspects of the Branch Davidians’ lives). Instead of a story of good guys vs. bad guys, Waco shares the story of real, human people.

how accurate is waco netflix paramount
Source: Paramount
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To make the show, The Dowdles worked closely with people who were involved in the real siege. Both David Thibodeau and Gary Noesner were involved on the production side of things. Thibodeau met with the Branch Davidian cast members to talk to them about what daily life looked like in the compound. The production designer also consulted with Thibodeau when designing the Mount Carmel Center set.

Of course, given the nature of the siege, the conflicting accounts of what actually happened, and its tragic outcome, it’s impossible to say that Waco is a completely accurate account. Then again, the Dowdles did not set out to make a documentary, and some artistic license should certainly be afforded to them in their attempt to show how the siege felt to the people who were actually there.

You can stream all six episodes of Waco on Netflix now.

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