A thought experiment: Imagine if Kate Beckinsale's new show, which premieres on March 1 on Amazon Prime Video, were based on a true story. Imagine how wild that would be.
In the show, Kate Beckinsale plays Georgia Wells, a woman whose life essentially stopped when her husband died three years ago in an airplane crash. Now, she lives alone in a remote cabin in Wales — so remote that Georgia has to walk miles for the nearest medical facility when her car breaks down and she's injured.
But, as this early scene shows, Georgia doesn't let challenges (or better judgment) stop her from getting what she wants. When Georgia thinks she sees her husband Will (Matthew le Nevez) on a TV broadcast from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she's on the next plane to an unfamiliar land.
Was there really a woman named Georgia Wells who launched a one-woman mission to overthrow a vast global conspiracy, involving faked plane crashes and drama in Kinshasa? The short answer: No. The Widow was written by Harry and Jack Williams, the brother duo behind similarly haunting, high-octane shows like The Missing and One of Us (The Missing is also streaming on Amazon and will make for a fitting follow-up to The Widow).
Though The Widow is entirely fictional, it technically isn't the first story of a plane crash hoax to penetrate pop culture. In 2015, Paris Hilton was convinced her plane was going down — and her reaction was caught entirely on camera. As it turns out, Hilton was the target of a particularly cruel prank produced by the show Ramez In Control (think Punk'd, just Egyptian).
In the show, Hilton is persuaded to take an aerial tour of Dubai. Soon after the small jet takes off, the engine sputters and the plane begins to rapidly plummet. Hysteria erupts around her. A clearly petrified Hilton breaks into sobs. Some passengers on board (who are really actors wearing parachutes) are thrown out of the plane's rear door. Eventually, the plane lands safely — but Hilton is understandably angry. "I'm going to kill you," she tells Ramez Galal, the show's host.
Ultimately, viewers of Ramez In Control were the ones getting pranked. Documents obtained by TMZ revealed that Hilton was in on the hoax all along. Hilton was allegedly paid $1 million for the appearance. But in an ensuing interview with TMZ, Hilton attested that her hysterics were real. “It was terrifying. I’ve never been in a plane that was about to go down, so it was very scary,” she told TMZ. “I think they went a little too far with their prank. That was not funny.”
There's one woman who might be able to empathize with Hilton, and it's not Georgia Wells. It's the woman whose boyfriend, a small plane pilot, staged an elaborate plane malfunction in order to propose. "Honey, I need you to stay calm," he says in the video. "The flight controls aren't responding. I'm going to need you to read through these emergency procedures." She begins to read instructions after "initiate ring engagement process," eventually stumbling on the question.
We hate to report that other men have also staged plane malfunctions to pop the question. The woman in this video screams and waves away the ring. "You're such an idiot," she says. Unlike The Widow, these proposals are real — making them even more upsetting than the undeniably grim Amazon Prime show.
So, what have we learned from this brief foray into plane crash hoaxes? The moral of the Hilton plane crash scam is not to automatically believe anything on TV is real. At least with The Widow, the audience knows Georgia's is fictional from the start. Beyond that premise, the show deviates from any other expectations. In a conventional TV show, Georgia might heroically battle adversity to reconnect with her man. But nothing is guaranteed in The Widow — certainly not a happy ending.