FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE YET TO SEE BASED ON A TRUE STORY, THIS IS A NON-SPOILER REVIEW.
As a true crime junkie, I was immediately excited about Peacock’s new show, Based on a True Story. Although we’ve seen a very similar plot be tackled already in Hulu’s ever-charming Only Murders in the Building… I was willing to give this series a chance, as long as it tried to do something different. And what I will say about Based on A True Story, is it is VERY DIFFERENT from Hulu’s Emmy-nominated mystery comedy. Different in a good way, though? I’m not so sure…
WHAT IS BASED ON A TRUE STORY ALL ABOUT?
Based on a True Story follows a down-on-their-luck married couple who are about to have their first baby. Nathan, a former Tennis star, has just lost his job teaching LA housewives who would rather pick up a cocktail than a racket. And Ava, a struggling realtor whose sexual fantasies with her buyers get in the way of her ever selling a property. Enter Matt, a seemingly sweet everyman plumber whose extracurricular activities lead this couple into the world of true crime podcasting. But will their obsession with giving their listeners the very best in the genre… lead to deadly consequences?
HOW IS THIS SHOW VS. ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING?
While Only Murders In The Building is like a warm hug of comfort for true crime lovers… Based On A True Story is like a big smack in the face for them. This is the vapid, crude, nihilistic and gratuitously violent stepsibling of that show. And in some ways, I was enjoying the wildly different tone and approach creator Craig Rosenberg was bringing to his new show. And once I realized this guy was a writer and producer for Amazon’s The Boys and the creator for its new spin-off Gen V… it made a little more sense. But, it doesn’t take away from the fact that something about this show feels extremely hollow.
THERE ARE A LOT OF SIMILIARITIES TO THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT…
It took me back immediately to how I felt about star Kaley Cuoco’s last series, The Flight Attendant. It’s dark, deliriously quirky, and it attempts to grapple at some real life issues while following a fish-out-of-water anti-hero caught up in a crime. In both, we even have Cuoco daydreaming things that aren’t happening (and in both, they are extremely annoying diversions). But, the biggest takeaway from watching both of these projects, is that they feel very surface-level. There’s not a whole lot of depth to these characters or this story, and once the reveals start happening… you realize that you don’t care all that much, because you haven’t connected to anything that’s occurred prior.
HOW IS THE CAST?
Now, there are definitely positives to Based on a True Story. While I just finished talking about why I haven’t loved Kaley Cuoco’s last two series, I cannot deny her star-power and utter likeability. She certainly elevates this material, and I think her and Chris Messina are a good match. While their chemistry isn’t electric; we are meeting these characters at a crossroads in their marriage, and they can perfectly capture that wavering love and frustrating disdain couples in this situation have for one another.
The real stand-out here however, is Tom Bateman as Matt the plumber. And while I wouldn’t want to give anything away, he steals every scene that he is in. Every time Bateman is on screen, you have absolutely no idea what he will do or how he will react to a situation. He brings some real edge and energy to this series, even when his character is written to be highly irritating.
THINGS PICK UP AROUND EPISODE 5…
I think the real test for viewers on if they are going to like this show or not, is if they have the patience to reach Episode 5. Up until then, I felt like I was clicking “Next Episode” only out of necessity to write this review. I found all of the characters mostly unlikable, any air of mystery about the plot had already been revealed, the cliffhangers felt forced and frankly, I was bored. But, once Ava, Nathan and Matt’s podcast finally starts gaining momentum… so, does Based on a True Story. This is when the series really starts taking some narrative swings, and some of them are complete misses… but, others really threw me for a loop and made me intrigued to see what would happen next. The problem is; after episode 5, there’s only three episodes left and then the season’s over.
IS IT ALL WORTH TUNING IN FOR?
Only time will tell, if a second season of this show will remedy many of the firsts issues. Based on where episode eight leaves us, there’s obviously a lot more to this narrative that the writers want to explore. I’m just not sure, if this season has sold me that Based On A True Story, has a worthwhile enough story to tell. But, if you’re a true crime junkie like me, our curiosity alone will probably be enough to force us to see how it all plays out.
All 8 Episode of Based on a True Story will be Streaming on Peacock, June 8th 2023.
For More Reviews, make sure to Stay Tuned to That Hashtag Show!