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Is Peacock’s New Comedy Thriller, Based on a True Story, Actually a True Story? – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

Is Peacock’s New Comedy Thriller, Based on a True Story, Actually a True Story?



Peacock’s original series, Based on a True Story, had people questioning its authenticity upon release. The title suggested it was based on actual events, leading many to assume it was either based on or inspired by true stories. However, before we delve into that question, let’s examine the show’s premise.

Kaley Cuoco stars as Ava, a true crime enthusiast, while Chris Messina plays Nathan, a failed tennis pro, and Tom Bateman as Matt, also known as the West Side Ripper. When Ava discovers that Matt, their plumber, is a serial killer, she proposes a deal. After Nathan joins in, they confront Matt and suggest they collaborate on a podcast. Initially hesitant, Matt eventually agrees on the condition that they work together creatively, with him in control, and he won’t kill again. The podcast, called “Based on a True Story,” features testimony from an “active” serial killer, but it is entirely fictional.

The Origins of Based on a True Story

The concept of the show was inspired by the true crime genre’s recent popularity, with documentary films, podcasts, and movies/television shows featuring serial killers’ stories. However, instead of turning Matt over to the authorities, Ava and Nathan blackmail him into creating a podcast. The show satirizes the true crime genre and society’s fascination with murderers, as well as the commodification of their stories. The podcast initially struggles, but it gains popularity when Matt does a live episode at a true crime convention. Although remaining anonymous, the podcast goes viral, with people expressing different opinions about it. However, Ava and Nathan are unaware that they are now in a dangerous situation, and if they are discovered, they face dire consequences.

A Fictional Serial Killer

To prepare for his role as Matt, a psychopath, Tom Bateman researched antisocial personality disorders and their behaviors. He aimed to create a character full of contradictions, portraying Matt as a good father and friend, but also manipulative and controlling, and enjoying killing people. Matt’s mask of being a good person falls apart when he’s accepted by Ava and Nathan for who he is. Despite being manipulative and threatening, he no longer needs to hide his true self around them. When the podcast gains popularity, his ego gets a boost, and he decides to kill again. This time, Ava and Nathan are his accomplices.

Despite enjoying playing the character of Matt, Bateman finds the ability of psychopaths to harm people and derive pleasure from it abhorrent. While chaos and unpredictability in fiction are acceptable, real-life killers’ actions are inexcusable. The show raises a question about where to draw the line between fiction and reality when fictionalizing and retelling serial killers’ stories.

In conclusion, Based on a True Story is a show that satirizes the true crime genre. Although fictional, it raises questions about society’s fascination with murderers and the commodification of their stories. The characters’ actions and the consequences they face highlight the real-life dangers of interacting with psychopaths.

When Peacock’s original series Based on a True Story was released, many people wondered if the show was, in fact, based on a true story. After all, that is exactly what the title tells us, so it is natural to assume that it might be based on or inspired by true events. But before we dive into that question, let’s take a look at the premise of the show. Based on a True Story stars Kaley Cuoco as Ava, the true crime junkie, Chris Messina as Nathan, the failed tennis pro, and Tom Bateman as Matt, the West Side Ripper. When Ava discovers that their plumber Matt is a serial killer, she hatches the idea to strike a deal with him.

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Once Ava gets Nathan on board with her plan, he confronts Matt about what they know and pitches to him that they should do a podcast together. Yes, that’s right, a podcast. Matt is hesitant at first but agrees on the condition that they are a team (that he controls), and they make creative decisions together, and in exchange, he will not kill anyone else. The podcast is then titled “Based on a True Story” because it features testimony from an “active” serial killer. With that in mind, the answer to the question is no; this show is not based on a true story.

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The Origins of Based on a True Story

Peacock
Kaley Cuoco, Chris Messina and Tom Bateman in Based on a True Story

Now that we know the show is not based on real-life events and is entirely made up, we can dive into what inspired the concept of the show. The true crime genre has become a mainstream sensation in pop culture lately, with a rise of documentaries, podcasts, and movies/shows that feature the stories of serial killers.

Although many would not like to admit it, serial killers have become celebrities. Glamorized, sensationalized, and commodified. This led writer Craig Rosenberg and producers Jason Bateman and Michael Costigan to develop the idea for this show of a married couple blackmailing a serial killer into doing a podcast.

Of course, this show is a satire of the true crime genre and the mainstream obsession with murderers. Rather than turning in Matt once Ava and Nathan discover who he is, they decide to capitalize on this unique opportunity. At first, the podcast is a bust, but their luck changes when they attend a true crime convention where Matt does a live second episode without Ava and Nathan’s knowledge.

His identity remains anonymous, but now everyone knows about the podcast, which goes viral. The next thing the group knows, everyone is talking about “Based on a True Story” and voicing their opinions on it, with some that enjoy it, some that believe it is real, others who think its fake, and many are disgusted enough by it that the podcast gets canceled.

However, Ava and Nathan, in their naivety, believing they can control a killer, are now roped into a dangerous situation if they are ever discovered. Not only risking the safety of others and allowing Matt to capitalize on his new killings but also putting their own lives at risk, including their unborn child’s. Not to mention the possibility that if they’re caught, they would very likely end up in prison for the rest of their lives and unable to raise their child or build the future they long for.

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A Fictional Serial Killer

based on a true story
Peacock

To prepare for his role as a psychopath, Tom Bateman researched how people with antisocial personality disorders behave. They often come across as charming and funny individuals, and Bateman wanted to create a character full of contradictions.

On the one hand, he seems to be a good person and friend to Nathan. He is also a good father who loves his kid, and we even get a couple of scenes where we see him interacting with his son, spoiling him, and playing with him. But on the other hand, he is manipulative, controlling, and kills people for pleasure and power. This good person persona, however, is just a mask to hide his darkness.

However, in this show, Bateman allows Matt’s mask to break down a bit when he is accepted by Ava and Nathan for who he really is and becomes part of this trio. That doesn’t stop him from being charming, manipulative, and threatening towards them so that he can get his way with the podcast, but he doesn’t have to try so hard to hide in their presence. Then he gets an ego boost with the podcast, and despite their efforts to control him, he cannot resist the urge to hurt people and decides to kill again. But this time, Ava and Nathan are his accomplices.

Although Bateman has stated that he has enjoyed playing the character, he has expressed that he finds the ability of psychopaths to hurt people and derive pleasure from it abhorrent. Being a chaotic and unpredictable character in a work of fiction is one thing, but the actions of real-life killers are inexcusable. Which begs the question about the true crime genre, where do we draw the line between fiction and reality when it comes to retelling and fictionalizing the stories of serial killers?

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