Is 'Love & Death' based on a true story, or is the new series fictional?

Candy Montgomery might seem straight out of a horror movie, but is 'Love & Death' based on a true story, or is it all fabricated?

is Love & Death based on a true story? Pictured: Krysten Ritter and Elizabeth Olsen in church gear in HBO Max's Love & Death
(Image credit: Jake Giles Netter/HBO Max)

They say truth is stranger than fiction, but is Love & Death based on a true story? Is a church-going Texas mom really capable of murder—an ax-wielding one at that? 

HBO Max's anticipated miniseries is gearing up for its premiere in all of its unfathomable glory, and it is based on actual events. Perfect for fans of true crime documentaries, the fictionalized retelling stars Elizabeth Olsen as Candy Montgomery, a wife and mother who took the life of her close friend, Betty Gore, by stabbing her with an ax 41 times. 

Why did Candy kill Betty Gore? What happened during the Candy Montgomery trial? Where is Candy today? As the details start to unravel, you'll realize that this is one story you cannot make up. 

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

Yes, Love & Death is based on the real-life story of Candy Montgomery, a 30-year-old wife and mother who felt unfulfilled. When she took a liking to her friend Betty's husband, Allan Gore, she decided to act on it, despite their families being tightly intertwined, and the fact that the Gores had another little one on the way. 

That sense of confusion and disappointment is something actress Elizabeth Olsen planned to explore when taking on the lead role.

"This is about women and men in this time period—they did everything right. They got married at 20, had kids. [Candy’s husband] Pat was a wonderful supporter and scientist. They moved to the suburbs. They built their dream house," Olsen told Vanity Fair. "Then why do you feel so profoundly empty inside? Why is there a hole in your heart and psyche a mile wide? She makes a horrible choice how to fill that void.”

A horrible choice it is. After about a year of sneaking around, Betty became aware of the situation and confronted Candy, which led to the deadly altercation that left Gore with 41 stab wounds in her own home in Wylie, Texas. According to an interview in the Dallas Times Herald, Candy revealed: "My hypnotist helped me to remember, and now I hope he can make me forget."

All about the real-life Candy Montgomery case:

Candy Montgomery admitted to her wrongdoing, but claimed she was acting in self-defense when the altercation erupted. Per an archived newspaper article, her attorney Don Crowder said: "Mrs. Montgomery had to defend herself with deadly force when, after being struck twice with the ax by Mrs. Gore and then gaining control of the weapon, the heavier and larger Mrs. Gore refused to let Mrs. Montgomery go."

 At the end of the eight-day trial in Collin County in October 1980, a year after the killing, Candy was acquitted when a jury of nine women and three men found her not guilty. Today, Candy Montgomery resides in Georgia, works at a mental health facility and goes by a different last name. She and her husband, Pat, split roughly two years after the case and their move to Georgia. 

Watch the 'Love & Death' trailer:

Love & Death will premiere on HBO Max on Thursday, April 27, 2023. The first three episodes will be available immediately, and each episode will be released weekly on Thursdays through May 25.

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.