The true story of Candy Montgomery, the Texas housewife who murdered Betty Gore, has once again come into the spotlight with the release of two back-to-back limited series. Hulu’s ‘Candy,’ starring Jessica Biel, and HBO Max’s ‘Love & Death,’ starring Elizabeth Olsen, both explore the same crime, but viewers and critics are curious to know the differences between them.

While it’s not uncommon for major networks and streaming services to develop films or series based on real-life crime cases, these recent releases have sparked a renewed interest in the genre. One of the other recent crime-based stories that had the same narrative in line was Netflix’s ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7‘ and ‘The Keepers.’ While the two separate entities told the same story, their perspective and look at characters varied. 

As viewers compare and contrast the two miniseries based on the Candy Montgomery case, it’s worth noting that each project may have its unique approach to telling the story. It’s also important to recognize that real-life crime cases can be complex, and there may be multiple perspectives to consider. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual viewer to decide which series they prefer and what they take away from the story.

What is the true story of Candy Montgomery?

On the fateful day of June 13, 1980, Allan, the husband of Betty Gore, was away on a business trip when he could not reach his wife back home in Texas. Concerned for her safety, he requested their neighbors to check up on her by evening. Shockingly, they found her lifeless body covered in blood with a three-foot ax nearby. To make matters worse, Betty’s one-year-old daughter was found unattended for hours.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

The investigation into the murder of Betty Gore revealed that she had been brutally struck 41 times with the ax. It was discovered that Candy Montgomery, who was a friend of Betty, had an affair with Allan from December 1978 until October 1979. Coincidentally, Candy was also the last person to see Betty alive that morning when she stopped by their home to run an errand. A bloody fingerprint found at the crime scene matched Candy’s, leading the police to arrest her as the prime suspect just two weeks after the murder.

What are the main differences between ‘Love & Death’ and ‘Candy’? 

Length of the two shows:

Although both miniseries are based on the same true story, there are notable differences between them. Firstly, they are on different streaming services and have distinct casts, with HBO Max’s version featuring an ensemble. Additionally, the length of the series varies, with Candy being five episodes long and Love & Death stretching to seven episodes.

Source material & Approach:

HBO Max’s version, Love & Death, is based on the two-part Texas Monthly article “Love and Death in Silicon Prairie” by Jim Atkinson and John Bloom, as well as their book Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs. This means, it takes a more traditional approach and offers a dramatic retelling of the events.

In contrast, Hulu’s Candy approaches the story differently by heavily focusing on the psychological elements of the case. This adaptation portrays the story as a character study of female rage. Unlike Love & Death, Candy immediately reveals the victim’s identity, creating an air of suspense and mystery.

Posters of Candy & Love & Death (Courtesy: HULU/HBO MAX)

Name of the children: 

When adapting a true story for the screen, it’s not uncommon for the names of characters to be changed, especially when it comes to criminal cases. In Hulu’s “Candy,” the Gore family’s two daughters are portrayed as Christina and Valerie, whereas in reality, their names are Alisa and Bethany. The reason behind the name changes is unclear. The series also introduces a foster son named Davey, whose presence is significant because it implies that Betty threatened him. 

In contrast, HBO Max’s “Love & Death” sticks to the real names of the Gore family’s daughters, Alisa and Bethany, and doesn’t mention any foster children, which perhaps suggests a more accurate representation. 

The changes in names and additional plot points in “Candy” can be attributed to creative liberties taken by the show’s creators to make the story more dramatic and engaging.

Locations where the shows were shot:

Filming locations are often used to create an authentic backdrop for the story. In the case of “Candy” and “Love & Death,” both series are based on a true story that took place in Texas. However, while “Candy” was filmed in and around Georgia, including Atlanta and Decatur, the production team of “Love & Death” chose to film the series in Texas itself. 

Character Appearances: 

In “Candy,” Jessica Biel’s portrayal of Candy Montgomery received acclaim for her transformation, including the distinct glasses and permed hair. Similarly, the other main cast members, such as Pablo Schreiber as Allan, Timothy Simons as Pat, and Melanie Lynskey as Betty, closely resemble their real-life counterparts. 

Elizabeth Olsen, on the other hand, opted for a different approach, sporting a slightly curly hairstyle for her portrayal of Candy. However, Olsen’s appearance changes for the trial proceedings, which mirrors Candy’s real-life look. 

In contrast to Hulu’s series, the other stars in Love & Death, including Jesse Plemons as Allan, Patrick Fugit as Pat, and Lily Rabe as Betty, look noticeably different from the individuals they play.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

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