Is 'Saint X' based on a true story? Everything you need to know before diving into the new Hulu series

It's possible that the highly-anticipated release might give you a feeling of déjà vu

West Duchovny as Alison and Jayden Elijah as Edwin
(Image credit: Paloma Alegria / Hulu )

Before we get lost in our next binge-watch, we're curious: is Saint X based on a true story, or is the Hulu series purely fictional? 

At first glance, you might get The White Lotus vibes, as it's set in a tropical environment where class issues abound. But once you dig deeper, you'll realize that Saint X is missing the dramedy's comedic element entirely. 

Perfect for fans of true crime documentaries, this feature series focuses on a family on vacation at a fictional Caribbean Island. On the final night of their getaway, their teen daughter ventured out with locals. Heartbreakingly, she was discovered dead the next morning. 

Fast-forward 15 years, and the teen's sister is now a young adult living in Brooklyn. All seems status quo until she runs into one of the men who was a suspect in the case all those years ago, which reignites her desire to find justice for her sister. Guess New York City, and even the world, aren't terribly big after all.

Is 'Saint X' based on a true story?

Although the series is not based on a true story, it is based on a 2020 novel. Why not get a copy of Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin (available at Amazon) and dig into the thriller with your book club as the series premieres? 

"I like to think Saint X is one-part love letter to miserable city winters," the author joked to Entertainment Weekly

But on a more serious note, when dissecting the genre for the American Booksellers Association, Schaitkin described Saint X as "a domestic drama propelled by a mystery. Or I might say, it’s a novel with a mysterious murder at its center that’s not a murder mystery." 

Her initial inspiration for the novels stemmed from her previous short stories, “Never Ending Beauty” and “A Dream Deferred”, and her time abroad in Thailand post-graduation. During this time, she was teaching English at a hospitality school in Chiang Mai.

"[That] contributed to my interest in looking at, and beneath the surface of, spaces created for the tourist gaze," Schaitkin also told ABA. 

Alycia Debnam-Carey as Emily in Saint X on Hulu

(Image credit: Hulu)

Is 'Saint X' based on the Natalie Holloway story?

Saint X appears to be a loose interpretation of Natalee Holloway's tragic story. Natalee, a high school student from Alabama, went missing on May 30, 2005, while she was in Aruba on a senior class trip. 

Around 1:30am, after leaving Carlos 'N Charlie's Nightclub in Aruba, she did not venture back to the hotel with other students, but instead, got in the car with locals Joran van der Sloot, Deepak Kalpoe and Satish Kalpoe—the last time she was ever seen. The teen was never found and was declared legally deceased in 2012. 

Watch the 'Saint X' trailer:

Who is in the 'Saint X' cast?

Curious about who's who in Saint X? We suspect a few differences from the book, as the protagonist who lost her sister is named Claire in print and Emily on screen. Regardless of the adjustments, meet the cast: 

  • Alycia Debnam-Carey as Emily
  • West Duchovny as Alison
  • Jayden Elijah as Edwin 
  • Josh Bonzie as Gogo
  • Michael Park as Bill 
  • Betsy Brandt as Mia

"My sister's murder was headline news for years," we hear Emily say in the trailer. "The whole world knows more than I do."

'Saint X' episodes: when does the series premiere?

Catch the first three episodes of Saint X, which drops on Hulu on Wednesday, April 26. The subsequent episodes will premiere on Wednesdays until the finale on May 31. 

Here's the full episode schedule:

  • Wednesday, April 26: Episodes 1-3
  • Wednesday, May 3: Episode 4
  • Wednesday, May 10: Episode 5
  • Wednesday, May 17: Episode 6
  • Wednesday, May 24: Episode 7
  • Wednesday, May 31: Episode 8

For even more dramatic watches this week, catch Love & Death on HBO Max on Thursday, April 27. This is another fictional retelling of the Candy Montgomery story, following Jessica Biel's 2022 Hulu release, Candy

Danielle Valente

Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, covering all-things news, lifestyle and entertainment. 

The heart of her time at Future has been devoted to My Imperfect Life, where she's been attuned to the cosmos, new TV shows and relationship trends.  

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, amNewYork and Newsday, among other outlets. 

When Danielle is not working, you can usually find her reading a book, coffee at hand, or attempting a new recipe. (Recommendations always welcome!)