Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Television Tuesday: "Based on a True Story," Humorously Examines the True-Crime Genre

"Based on a True Story," has all eight episodes streaming on Peacock of the first season. Featuring Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina as a married couple with Tom Bateman as the friendly plumber they figure out isn't who he seems, the show starts quite dramatically, slows down a bit, but when it features everyone going to a crime-themed convention in Vegas mid-series it really picks back up and gets quite crazy until ending on some big cliffhangers. If I may spoil a chunk of the first episode, Cuoco manages to figure out that Bateman's character is a well-known serial killer and instead of turning him she and Messina decide to basically blackmail him into doing a podcast where he discusses who he is and why he kills.

"Based on a True Story," manages to be critical of the true crime genre and all the popular podcasts without outright trying to make fans of the stuff feel guilty. It points out there is a whole industry making money off violent deaths in the name of, "Helping the victims," but while the victims are being spotlit a lot of money is being made. It's also a damn funny show with Bateman stealing scenes as a serial killer who also manages to be creepily easy to like--when he's not stabbing people. Cuco and Messina's excuse for doing a podcast with Bateman's character is they can make him stop killing and get out of a bunch of financial trouble they're in, but the show doesn't hesitate to point out they're being pretty despicable themselves. That said, is a podcast talking with a serial killer while they're still on the loose really that inexcusable in an industry full of gory details where once the killer is caught fans eagerly read about/listen to the bloodshed?

Thanks to a strong cast and a clever plot, "Based on a True Story," is quite twisted fun. It dives into the true crime genre with a critical eye and makes some good points while also making viewers laugh--when they aren't cringing from the body count. I really hope a second season happens and would encourage anyone with Peacock to check this show out.

5 out of 5 stars.

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