Based on a True Story (Season 1)

By Aaron Isenstein

Peacock’s Joyful New Dark Comedy Mocks True Crime Culture

When Peacock announced Based on a True Story, it seemed all too familiar. A dark comedy about a murder podcast? We already have that show; Only Murders in the Building was a hit! Do we really need this show to exist? The answer is yes. Based on a True Story is actually a satire of Only Murders in the Building and the true crime industry as a whole, and it’s a damn good time. This Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina-led comedy is sexy, violent, thought-provoking, but most importantly, freaking hilarious. 

While the entertainment industry is ruled by a true crime obsession, Based on a True Story flips the narrative and presents true crime as exploitative. Cuoco’s Ava is a true crime obsessed upcoming mother in a struggling marriage with Messina’s Nathan. They’re granted the opportunity of a lifetime when they discover a local serial killer and decide to create a podcast with him. Not only does this cause more harm for the victims, but it also results in some of the funniest and most absurd scenarios on TV since Barry. The entire series is addicting, and you just can’t take your eyes off of it.

Based on a True Story also, as expected, boasts incredible performances. Unexpectedly, the standout had to be Tom Bateman, who gives a both nail-biting and knee-slapping performance. He has delicious chemistry with both Cuoco and Messina, almost making me wish that there was some sort of polyamorous romcom about the three. Cuoco, as always, is a comedic genius and Messina is so funny and amazing. The two of them make for charismatic leads, and it’s incredibly fun to watch how their relationship with a serial killer basically saves their marriage. One can argue that the side characters are swept to the side, but I honestly didn’t have a problem with it when the main characters are this fun!

The back half of the episodes became a little repetitive, but it’s hard to be irritated when it’s repetitively funny. The ending cliffhanger is a little disappointing, but once again, I just can’t be that mad at it when it means I could get another season of these characters! It might just be my comedic inclinations, but none of the jokes really missed for me and I found myself laughing throughout the entire show.

Based On A True Story is admittedly flawed, but its flaws only add to its sheer entertainment value. It’s really hard to find anything negative to say about a show this enjoyable. As someone who has several issues with Only Murders in the Building, I’m delighted that Based on a True Story entered the true crime conversation, and I cannot wait to see where it goes in the future.