True crime is a rapidly growing genre and quickly becoming a sensation and an obsession all around the world. The rise in the number of documentaries and podcasts is very significant in recent years. Just like many of the True Crime content creators, our lead characters Nathan and Ava Bartlett also find themselves creating a true crime podcast about a serial killer but here’s the twist, the killer is in on it. What follows is a wild journey of chaos and frenzy as they try to stop him from killing any more people and establish their podcast at the same time.
The official logline says, “A dark comedic thriller, Based On A True Story is about a realtor, a former tennis star and a plumber who seize a unique opportunity to capitalize on America’s obsession with true crime”. The Peacock original series stars Kaley Cuoco, Chriss Messina and Tom Bateman as our three protagonists. It is created by Craig Rosenberg (The Boys) and Executive Produced by Jason Bateman, Rosenberg and Cuoco among others. Rosenberg wrote all 8 episodes of the first season.
Nathan and Ava are married and have a baby coming soon into their lives, but they face financial struggles as Ava is not finding luck in selling properties, while Nate is demoted from his position as a Tennis Coach. Meanwhile, A serial killer named ‘The West Side Ripper’ is at large killing young women in Los Angeles. So to solve their problems, they decide to make a podcast about the serial killer. Ava and Nate’s relationship is hanging by a thread as they both go through a rollercoaster of emotions due to what is happening in their life. Nate finds a reliable friend in Matt (Tom Bateman), with whom he shares his desires and disappointments.
The premise is an interesting one, to say the least. I definitely haven’t seen anything like this before. The narrative nicely balances thrills and humor and gives intriguing arcs to most characters which are deeply flawed, which makes them even more fun. Some side characters feel underused, but that didn’t bother me too much. By the end it does seem that the show as run out of ideas, but it still has a lot to offer throughout the course of this season. The color grading is pleasing with some clever use of colour. The makers also don’t shy away from showing blood, which creates some strong moments for the story.
The humor is also pretty consistent, with not all of them landing smoothly, but enough laugh-out-loud moments to keep you entertained. The pacing is also rapid and the show hardly ever slows down. The tone keeps shifting, but despite the attempts of some characters to keep things grounded, it often goes into the over-the-top zone. The performances are decent all around, but Tom Bateman is a clear highlight as Matt Pierce. The style of the series may be too ridiculous for some and I could also see many viewers not being able to get invested in the characters, but I thoroughly enjoyed this frantic journey.
Based On A True Story is a twisted tale of true crime obsession that hooks you to its refreshing plot and outrageous narrative. Tom Bateman steals the show, but the performances are really good by the entire cast. The fast pace and regular twists will keep you hooked and the vibrant characters ensure that you have a good time. Naturally, there will be direct comparisons to Hulu’s Only Murders In The Building, But this show has enough to stand out on its own.
All 8 episodes of Based On A True Story will stream on Peacock from June 8.