Is ‘Kaleidoscope’ Based On A True Story?

Netflix kicked off the new year by dropping one of its more radical experiments yet. It’s called Kaleidoscope and it’s a heist show spread over eight episodes. But that’s not the main gimmick. That would be that you can watch the show in any order you like (with the exception of its final episode, which really is the finale). But there’s another hook: It’s loosely inspired by real events (that didn’t quite happen this way).

As per Netflix’s own site Tudum, showrunner Eric Garcia was inspired by a real-life event that may come as some shock: Hurricane Sandy, which bombarded and partially crippled New York City and vicinity back in 2012. The storm caused problems the mighty metropolis is still dealing with. But there was one outlandish part of the story that inspired Garcia: the near disappearance of $70 billion in bearer bonds.

After Sandy landed in late October 2012, among the places that suddenly found themselves flooded (along with many subway stations) was a large depository located underground in Lower Manhattan. The vault contained $1.7 million in bond and stock certificates, which were suddenly doused in water. It also bore over $70 billion in bearer bonds, which aren’t registered to any owner and are therefore easy to steal. (It’s what Robert De Niro’s Neil McCauley steal at the beginning of Heat.)

No one actually stole said bearer bons. Instead, some two weeks after the storm, teams descended some 60 feet below street level into the vault, rescuing 99.9% of the bearer bonds were rescued. It what was the largest vault recovery in history.

This isn’t depicted in Kaleidoscope. Instead, it loosely inspired Garcia and team to come up with a similar scenario involving a gang of thieves plotting some 25 years for the perfect heist. The episodes jump around in time, some set months or weeks before the heist, one set 24 years prior, others afterwards.

Kaleidoscope streams on Netflix.