'The Twelve' Is About the Jury for a Murder Trial — but Is It Based on a True Story?

Is 'The Twelve' on Netflix based on a true story? The Belgian drama centers around the double murder trial of a headmistress, and the jurors.

Shannon Raphael - Author

Jul. 10 2020, Updated 1:32 p.m. ET

Source: Netflix

While there is no shortage of crime drama offerings available to stream these days, Netflix's latest series The Twelve (or De Twaalf in Dutch) has an entirely unique focus that will surely keep viewers on the edge of their seats. 

The plot of The Twelve centers around a double murder trial, but the audience is told the story through the lens of the one dozen jurors who listen to the case.

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The woman on trial is a former school headmistress named Fri Palmers who is charged with the killings of her friend and her own daughter. Instead of complicating the story by showing the tale through the eyes of the accused murderer, the jurors' various prejudices and personal lives will muddy the viewers' perspectives. 

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The style of the show emulates a documentary and the chilling details of the case have some convinced that it must be based on a real crime. 

Is The Twelve on Netflix a true story? Read on to find out what level of truth the series is based on. 

Is 'The Twelve' on Netflix based on a true story?

Despite the filming style of the Belgian drama and the realistic nature of the jurors' backstories, The Twelve is not based on a real case. But the creators were inspired by some of the real former jurors they spoke to for research purposes.

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Co-creators Bert Van Dael and Sanne Nuyens discussed how they came up with the plot for the psychological thriller series with Variety in 2019. They noted that they wanted to explore how people's inherent biases cloud decisions, whether or not they realize it. 

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"We put a lot of time in the research of our show. We really wanted to get to know how it felt inside a jury room. How much bias do we take with us? Every person has a background. How much of personal background defines our judgements?" the two told Variety. "These were the ultimate questions for us while developing the series."

This research directly included speaking with people who had served on juries before. 

"We talked discreetly with quite a few ex-jurors. We really knew we had a show when one of the ex-jurors told us about her terrorizing husband while being on jury duty. She said she recognized traits of her jealous husband in the defendant and told us she feared ending up like the victim when she would stay with her husband," the pair stated. 

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"After her jury duty she finally had the courage to leave her husband," they added. "It was the jury duty that changed her life. But it was also her own personal life that found the defendant convicted."

Sanne and Bert confirmed that they also spoke with many lawyers, judges, politicians, and prosecutors when making the show. 

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'The Twelve' was also inspired by the debate over the Belgian jury system.

Bert and Sanne also discussed how The Twelve was a response to the real-life Belgian discussion over the cost and necessity of a formal jury system. 

When some Belgian leaders wanted to cut the jury size from 12 to four, there was outcry that this would lead to unfair trials.

"There was a big public debate about jury duty in Belgium that we found enormously interesting. The previous government tried to eradicate the jury system in which 12 citizens decide upon guilt and penalty of the defendant, because it basically was too expensive. They wanted a reduced system where three judges and four citizens would come to a decision," they told Variety. "But it turned out to be unconstitutional."

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"We found it thought provoking to focus on the ordinary people that get drawn by lot for jury duty. Most of the courtroom dramas we know focus on the lawyers or the defendant, but we really wanted to have the point of view of normal people," they concluded.

Though Fri Palmers is not based on a real person, The Twelve is clearly meant to evoke a discussion among viewers about the justice system. 

The Twelve is available to stream on Netflix now. 

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