Fool Me Once: Is Burkett Global Enterprise Based on a Real Company?

The Netflix crime thriller show, ‘Fool Me Once’ begins as a mystery about ex-military Maya Stern’s husband, whose inexplicable appearance on a Nanny Cam footage days after his death sends the woman into an investigation that spirals out of control. As she looks further into his death, she learns about a connection between her husband, Joe, and her sister, Claire, who died a few months before Joe. Thus, in an effort to understand the events that led up to Claire’s murder, Maya digs around and finds herself in the middle of a dangerous plot revolving around her in-laws, the Burkett Family.

As a result, the Burketts and their expansive, lucrative business become a central plot device. However, the business’ goliath reputation as a pharmaceutical giant involved in a buried scandal may lead people to wonder if the company has a basis in real life. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Burkett Global Enterprise, A Fictionalized Lucrative Corporation

No, The Burkett Global Enterprise from ‘Fool Me Once’ is not based on a real company. Although companies bearing similar titles may exist in real life, they have no relation to the corporation or the Burkett family depicted within the show. Instead, the company and the family behind it are simply works of fiction created by Harlan Coben. Coben is a renowned author who penned the eponymous 2016 novel that the show adapts. As such, since the show remains faithful to its source material for the most part, Burkett Global Enterprise’s origins can be traced back to Coben’s work.

Within his novel, Coben introduces Joe Burkett, Maya’s dead husband, as an heir to a wealthy family. As the story progresses, Maya discovers secrets about her husband’s dark and violent past, which the Burketts’ wealth and influence have helped cover up. Furthermore, malpractices committed by the company also reveal themselves as the catalyst for the story’s central conflict.

In the TV show adaptation, Maya’s story similarly unfolds, wherein her investigation into her husband’s past leads to her unearthing truths about Burkett Pharmaceuticals and their illegal medical practices. Although the specifics of this instance are not based on a real-life event or company, the idea isn’t entirely detached from reality.

The theme of a wealthy family using their power to conduct immoral activities is a long-held tradition within storytelling. The trope remains influenced by real life, where the rich and powerful often misuse their resources in criminal ways and manage to get away with it all the same. Furthermore, the “Bad Pharma” storyline has become a popular genre recently, as more and more films and TV shows take inspiration for their tales from the American Opioid Crisis.

‘Fool Me Once’ seems to take a similar inspiration when it comes to the Burkett Family, packaging their crimes as a Pharmaceutical scandal, where their company has been falsifying lab results to peddle their harmful drugs on the population. This instance, which remains at the center of Burkett Global Enterprise’s evil, can be compared to a few real-life instances, such as the Sackler Family’s involvement with the Purdue Pharmaceutical Scandal.

However, despite any similarities, the show doesn’t take any specific company or family as the inspiration behind Burkett Global Enterprise. Instead, it simply uses the company and its defining Pharmaceutical malpractices to accentuate the evil residing within the Burkett Family. Thus, the Burkett Global Enterprise, used only as a plot device within a fictional story, remains a fictionalized detail.

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