Review Based On A True Story: A Messy Attempt At True Crime Comedy

Fans and naysayers of the Internet true crime cottage industry will find a lot to hate. Based on a true story, a new series from Peacock tries to awaken the public’s fascination with the genre. Although it aims for laughs, it is less successful in finding humor than in introducing a bunch of unlikable characters that viewers probably wish someone would cut out.

Based on a true story that follows troubled Los Angeles couple Ava (Kaley Cuoco) and Nathan (Chris Messina), who has a baby on the way and a dwindling income stream. The couple lives in a beautiful house near the beach, possibly beyond their means given Ava’s profession as a real estate agent and Nate’s job as a tennis instructor. Adding to the couple’s problems, a serial killer named the Westside Ripper is on the loose in his neighborhood and kills a local bartender the same night Nate visits his restaurant. Police suspicion initially falls on Nate, though he and Ava soon determine the true identity of the killer: Matt (Tom Bateman), Nate’s friend, and the couple’s new handyman.


Rather than turn Matt, who has killed at least seven women, over to the police, Ava and Nate come up with a plan. They will launch a true crime podcast on Westside Ripper and feature Matt in exclusive interviews. The money the podcast generates will solve their financial problems and create a picture from the mind of a murderer… if the said murderer doesn’t kill them first.

deadly premise

Longtime TV fans will remember how, before the days of unlimited cable channels and streaming services, networks loved to copy each other’s success, often with diminishing returns. For each x-files viewers would end up with a Baywatch Nights. Peacock, the streaming service that has followed a traditional churn-em-out TV model more than any of its competitors, follows the same idea here. Based on a true story inspired by the success of Hulu Only Murders in the Building with a touch of Right handed‘s black humor added. And, like many TV knockoffs, it pales in comparison to the series it’s meant to emulate.

Only murders in the building struck gold by providing two idiot losers as the leads, played by two comic legends in the form of Steve Martin and Martin Short. The manic Short could play on Martin’s stoicism and vice versa in such a way that he made his characters irresistible no matter how egotistical his choices. Cuoco, Messina, and Bateman have strong enough chemistry, but their LA jerk personas load them with lead material. only murders also had a mystery at its core, something Based on a true story it lacks. As a result, the plot lacks a compelling hook.

murderous idiots

Chris Messina and Kaley Cuoco in Based on a True Story

same goes for True story’s attempts to capture the macabre humor of Right handed. That show benefited from a complex anti-hero in its lead character: Dexter was a mass murderer, but he was also a loving son, boyfriend, and father. His bloodlust only extended to other murderers who had evaded justice.

In other words, he was a good man, to the extent that his nature allowed him to be. True story he does his best to show Bateman’s Matt as a good father, even though the show doesn’t have the sense to give him anti-hero motives. He kills women because he enjoys it. As a character, that makes him vile, which also makes Nate and Ava look even more gross for coming up with their podcast plan. The main characters of True story They’re not just horrible, they’re horrible to look at.

Related: Kaley Cuoco’s 6 Best Performances, Ranked

The Westside Ripper’s penchant for innocent victims also feels like a missed opportunity as Ava and Nate surround themselves with wealthy elites in a vision of Los Angeles that feels free of any sign of smog or urban inequity. The characters sit drinking wine at McMansions, discussing how everyone is having affairs with personal trainers, bikini waxers, or other ‘lower class’ employees.

We wish Matt had the good sense to butcher some of these nasty yuppies instead of the poor, innocent bartenders. A better show he would have used to comment on or satirize Los Angeles snobbery. we’re not even sure True story he sees his characters as the eye-roll-inducing goofballs that they are.

A peacock problem?

Chris Messina and Kaley Cuoco in Based on a True Story

Series creator Craig Rosenberg manages to pull off some genuine laughs in the third episode, in which Matt demands more creative control over his podcast effort with Ava and Nate. That could indicate that Based on a true story it finds its foundation in later episodes (three were provided to critics for review). Other successful series – rings of power, for example, it took two or three full episodes to really take off.

Related: Peacock’s Best Original Series, Ranked

Still, since this is Rosenberg’s debut as a series creator, fans of his most recent credits, Boys and Preacher, you probably won’t feel for something so mundane. That may have less to do with Rosenberg’s skills as a writer than with Peacock’s attempt to make more traditional television and unrestricted streaming content. in the same program at the same time. Like the streamer reboots of Bel Air and Queer as folkor the retreaded passé Joe vs. Caroleit is not entirely clear what Based on a true story it is supposed to be or says, and to what public it wants to address.

We can’t help but see a touch of irony in the meekness of Based on True story. Three of Peacock’s Best Offerings Yet: The Scripted Drama doctor death, who Killed Robert Wone, and Casey Anthony: Where the truth lies – are all true crime stories with pointed observations on their subjects and the public’s fascination with them. It’s hard to imagine that a service that has thrived so much on the true crime genre would have so little to say about it or the audience’s obsession with it.

Then again, maybe that’s the problem: Based on a true story he might be afraid of offending Peacock’s true crime-loving audience. Combine the show’s boredom with the ongoing Writers Guild strike, and we can’t imagine Based on a true story survive for a second season. Here’s hoping Rosenberg and Peacock sharpen their swords before trying anything else.

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