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How Much Of Hulu’s ‘Under The Bridge’ Is True?

Late author, Rebecca Godrey’s award-winning novel Under The Bridge has been adapted into a Hulu mini-series and has fans curious to know more about the true story that inspired this new show.  The devastating story of Reena Virk is one that stuck with middle schoolers, high schoolers, and parents across Canada and the U.S. As we get further into this highly anticipated series, here’s a breakdown of Reena Virk’s story, so you can better understand the mini-series, which premiered on April 17.

The TV show stars Emmy Award nominee Riley Keough, who plays Rebecca Godfry and Academy Award nominee Lily Gladstone.

Who was Reena Virk?

Reena (played by Vritika Gupta in Hulu’s Under The Bridge) was a 14-year-old girl from Saanich, British Columbia, Canada who was just like any regular middle-schooler. But to her peers, she was seen as an outcast, and got bullied for it. Because of her uniqueness, she gravitated toward The Bic Girls, who were also an ostracized group of young teenagers who spent their time in and out of foster care and getting into trouble, while being perceived as “disposable” to their community. 

Accused of spreading rumors by her peers in 1997, Reena was brought to the Craigflower Bridge in Saanich, where she was brutally beaten and forcibly drowned to death. Days before she was found, she was reported missing after joining a few friends at a party. With 7 girls and 1 boy accused of the crime, Reena’s murder raised awareness of bullying across Canada.  

Godfrey wanted Reena’s story to be known widely in the U.S., as it was in Canada and became engrossed in the crime because of how peculiar it was. “For a story about such a brutal act of violence, the actual storytelling had a lot of gentleness to it and it captured these very universal truths about adolescence that really spoke to me,” Godfrey told The Believer in 2019. “It was a story that had such a startling empathy for everyone involved and everyone whose lives were touched by the crime and also for Reena herself.” 

Godfrey’s Role In The Series.

In the new Hulu series, Godfrey teams up with detective Cam Bentland to solve Reena’s murder, while building a trusting relationship with Reena’s friends. In doing so, Godfrey gets to hear the perspectives of the girls involved in Reena’s death.

Creator of the mini-series, Quinn Shephard, began working with Godfrey, the executive producer of Under The Bridge, in 2021. They wanted the TV series to be closely knit with that of the book, but concise.

Godfrey’s significance in the story allowed her to share notes with Shepard to develop her TV character, timeline, as well as the characters in the story. Her character in the Hulu series is slightly fictionalized “to make her into a dynamic character.” 

While Cam Bentland plays a major role in the series, she’s not based on a real character. In March 2024, showrunner Samir Mehta told Elle, “Who she represents and what she represents is our attempt to excavate the spirit of the truth of this crime.” Shephard added, “Lily has a warmth that it was really important to us that we capture with the character that she plays. We didn’t want to do a procedural cop story in any way, and her character is so much there to function as somebody who the crime becomes very personal for.” 

Alongside Vritika Gupta, Riley Keough, and Lily Gladstone, some characters you may notice in the series are Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife) and Ezra Faroque Khan (Doctor Strange) as Reena’s parents, Chloe Guidry (The Park) as Josephine Bell, and Javon Walton (Euphoria) as Warren Glowastk. Other supporting roles in the film include Izzy G. as Kelly Ellard and Aiyana Goodfellow as Dusty Pace. 

Under The Bridge captures the essence of how taunting middle-schoolers and high-schoolers can be, in a community where we, especially as girls, should be embracing one another. The new series sheds light on how bullying affects young girls, and the peer pressure, feelings of belonging, and insecurities that come with it. 

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Nyah Davis is a National Writer for Her Campus and a Contributing Writer at Her Campus SUNY Oswego. She writes for the Culture section of Entertainment News nationally and for her chapter’s website. Her content primarily includes entertainment within music and pop culture. Aside from Her Campus, Nyah is a freelance writer, poet, podcaster, and music enthusiast. She has written for zines such as Black Girl Fight Club and Gen Blk Zine where she highlights the contributions that Black women have made in pop and hip-hop culture. Nyah also enjoys speaking about her life experiences in aims to connect with a wide array of audiences to help them navigate their personal experiences as well. For fun, she listens to many genres of music from R&B and Hip-Hop, to House and Jazz, as it inspires her hobby of writing poetry. In her free time, Nyah enjoys painting, watching her favorite podcasts, spending time with her loved ones, and discovering new artists to listen to.