Is Sitting in Bars with Cake a true story? Everything we know about the Prime Video movie

Among the cake there will be lots of tears...

Is Sitting in Bars With Cake a true story, as illustrated by Odessa A'Zion and Yara Shahidi in the film
(Image credit: Saeed Adyani/Prime Video)

Is Sitting in Bars With Cake a true story? Prime Video's tearjerker brings us cake, friendship and all the emotion, but is there any truth to the tale?

Get the popcorn and tissues ready for Prime Video's weepiest offering to date - Sitting in Bars With Cake. Jane and Corinne are 20-something room mates trying to live their best lives in Los Angeles. Their opposite personalities attract to make the ultimate friendship, and extrovert Corrine wants shy and retiring Jane to build some confidence. Corrine's suggestion is "cakebarring", where talented baker Jane makes one cake a week to take to a bar and hand out to men, in an attempt to meet people. 

As with the similarly tear-inducing Netflix series Firefly Lane, the celebration of female friendship depicted in the film, takes an unexpected turn that ends in tragedy. True events are often adapted for screens, with the recent release The Burial making a gripping courtroom drama. Over on Netflix, yet another drama about the opioid crisis has viewers wondering if Pain Hustlers is a true story. But is Sitting in Bars With Cake a true story? Here's everything we know. 

Is Sitting in Bars With Cake a true story?

Sitting in Bars With Cake is based on a true story, although very loosely. It takes inspiration from the blog, and then book of the same name by author Audrey Shulman.

In 2013, Audrey Shulman started a blog about her attempts to meet a man through Cakebarring. Over the course of a year, she planned to bake 50 cakes and take them to a bar, handing out slices to eligible and hopefully worthy men. Once she bagged herself a boyfriend, she collated her favourite cake recipes and dating stories in to the book Sitting in Bars with Cake: Lessons and Recipes from One Year of Trying to Bake My Way to a Boyfriend

However, the film depicts that cakebarring was the idea of Audrey's room mate Corinne (named Chrissy in real life), in an attempt to get the Audrey (named Jane in the film) to become less shy.

The reality is that Audrey came up with the idea herself, after taking a cake to a bar to celebrate a friend's birthday in 2012. The cake was so popular, that the then-single Audrey came up with the year of cakebarring idea, to try and bag herself a man.  

Once she was settled with a (cake-loving) boyfriend, the subsequent book based on her dating escapades became a movie deal, to which Audrey wrote the screenplay. Sadly, a true part of the story is that Audrey's best friend Chrissy really did pass away from a brain tumour in 2015, following a two-year battle with the disease. 

A month after her friend's death, Audrey wrote a heartfelt essay about caring for her friend, and coming to terms with her loss. "My best friend and roommate died from brain cancer last month, and I keep expecting her to walk in the front door and wonder why I'm sitting here crying, listening to Adam Levine and eating her almond butter," she wrote. 

"She really didn't care for Adam Levine," she continued, "And I think that's what's making me cry. I'm trying to stay connected to her, and as my friend Fernando so aptly put it, not lose the impact of this loss. Chrissy was 33 years old and I'm 28, and this wasn't supposed to happen to us. Because here's the honest truth - I never thought she would die."

The essay documents being with Chrissy when she got her diagnosis, and caring for her as she deteriorated, because sadly, her parents were caring for Chrissy's sibling who also had a brain disease. The piece concludes with a poignant determination that Audrey was going to appreciate the beauty in a life that was to carry on without her best friend in it.

Sitting in Bars with Cake: Lessons and Recipes from One Year of Trying to Bake My Way to a Boyfriend by Audrey Shulman | £18.46 Amazon

Sitting in Bars with Cake: Lessons and Recipes from One Year of Trying to Bake My Way to a Boyfriend by Audrey Shulman | £18.46 Amazon

Read the memoir that inspired a major Prime Video film, starring Yara Shahidi and Odessa A'Zion. 

How does Sitting in Bars With Cake end?

As expected, the ending of the film is not a happy one, and Corinne passes away. 

Once Corinne has died, Jane is determined to finish the cakebarring plan, and complete the 50 cakes. The 50th cake would have been Corinne's birthday cake, and despite her grief, Jane manages to make a cake and take it out with her to a bar. She later visits her friend's grave to tell her about the final cake escapade - her headstone reads "Lived for the music, stayed for the cake."

Having finally informed her parents she doesn't want to be a lawyer, the action skips to the future. Jane has opened her own business named Silver Lake Cake Bar, and as a successful baker, is distributing cakes around her local area - including the mail room where she once worked. 

Odess A'Zion and Bette Midler in Sitting in Bars With Cake

(Image credit: Saeed Adyani/Prime Video)

Sitting in Bars With Cake: Cast

  • Yara Shahidi as Jane
  • Odessa A'zion as Corinne 
  • Bette Midler as Benita 
  • Ron Livingston as Fred
  • Martha Kelly as Ruth
  • Maia Mitchell as Liz
  • Charlie Morgan Patton as Alex
  • Simone Recasner as Nora
  • Rish Shah as Owen
  • Aaron Dominguez as Dave
  • Will Ropp as Brock
  • Adina Porter as Tasha
  • Navid Negahban as Isaac
  • Reshma Gajjar as Dr. Mitchell

Speaking about the cast, director Trish Sie told Amazon "I was so lucky. This group of actors was a dream. Not only are they so skilled and talented, but they’re brave and willing to go to intense places, emotionally."

She added "They were also just really good, kind, and supportive to each other, including Bette Midler who is amazingly warm-hearted. It’s much easier to get authentic performances when people feel that sense of love and safety." 

Sitting in Bars With Cake: Reviews

The critical response to Sitting in Bars With Cake has been mixed. 

Adrian Horton from the Guardian offered 3 stars, referring to the film as an "uneven tale." Despite this, her opinion was "Shahidi and particularly A’Zion’s portrayal of the yin and yang of best female friendship is vivid and, thankfully, spiky; the film’s dialogue has some awkward, clunky beats, particularly in any hospital scene, but Jane and Corinne have the fizzy, casual energy of two young women who have built a real home around their friendship, from jabs about each other’s underwear to a Post-it for a hot Task Rabbit guy’s number on the fridge."

Sheila O'Malley from Roger Ebert offered 2.5 stars. She added " The cakebarring montages are a tour of legendary Los Angeles night spots (Clifton's Cafeteria, Moonlight Rollerway), and there is a welcome sense of real location, so often missing in contemporary film. The cake part of the story feels imposed, a problem since it is the film's organizing principle. It is a tribute to the two young actresses and the supporting cast that this caring friendship survives the artificial cakebarring. Melodrama, as Sitting in Bars with Cake is, serves a purpose. It provides a space for catharsis and deep feeling and presents real human themes that affect our lives."

However, one audience member wrote "Wonderful movie! You'll laugh and cry and come away with an appreciation of the loving friendship shared between these girls. Yara and Odessa are amazing as the leads, but honestly kudos to all the supporting actors as well! Don't miss this one!"

Similarly, another added "This movie is so wonderful, it's tender, funny and tackles something really hard and sad in a wonderful way. A real love letter to female friendship, joy and dealing with what life throws at us. It will make you cry but it will also make you feel hopeful and confident about what love really means in our lives." 

For the truth behind more hit TV shows, you'll never believe the real inspiration behind Prime Video's A Million Miles Away. Netflix's Burning Body is also based on a real life murder case. Some viewers have also been asking whether Dear Child on the streamer has any truth to it - we delve into whether there is or not.

Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.