Based on a True Story, a murderous dark comedy

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

Based on a True Story is a dark comedy series that spoofs true crime podcasts with a ludicrous plot about a couple who team up with a serial killer to do a podcast. It does a decent job satirizing America’s current obsession with true crime stories, but it also pokes at what people are willing to accept in order to get rich.

Based on a True Story begins by introducing us to failing LA real estate agent Ava (Kaley Cuoco). She’s a true crime nut and has a group of friends who share her obsession. She’s pregnant.

Chris Messina in Based on a True Story

Ava is married to Nathan (Chris Messina), a former professional tennis player who is slowly failing as a tennis coach.

They are broke. Tory (Liana Liberato) lives with them. I’m not sure how she was connected – maybe Ava’s niece. Tory runs in to report that a toilet is broken. They hire Matt (Tom Bateman) to fix the toilet.

Matt also discovers a leak under the sink, which they can’t afford to fix. Nathan offers free tennis lessons to Matt in exchange. The two men start hanging out together.

Kaley Cuoco in Based on a True Story

Meanwhile in LA news, a knife-wielding serial killer is terrorizing the city. Ava figures out that Matt is the killer. Instead of turning him in, she convinces Nathan they should team up with him on an ‘interview with the killer’ podcast so they can make a ton of money.

They ask Matt not to kill again to make themselves feel better, but they’ve actually made a deal with the devil to cash in on his notoriety and fame. To me, that spotlights the current political situation in the US with more impact than the satire of true crime podcasts.

Matt takes over the design and content of the podcast quickly. He names it “Based on a True Story” and ignores everything Ava and Nathan suggest. He wants to control his own brand and doesn’t like other people making money off his murders. The three of them go to a Crime Con in Las Vegas and Matt realizes how many people are getting rich off his image.

The plot is full of crazy twists and surprises. Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina have good chemistry as they navigate the hellscape they created for themselves. Tom Bateman is both menacing and hilarious as the serial killer.

Ava and Nathan have a lot of friends. Some of them don’t make it to the end of the season. Oops. The episodes are interwoven with sexual fantasies of both Ava and Nathan that involve friends, co-workers, and random people. I thought the fantasy scenes were a little jarring and didn’t really contribute to the overarching story.

Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina in Based on a True Story

Kaley Cuoco, who was actually pregnant in real life when filming the series, does most of her acting by making big shocked eyes at the various horrors accompanying Matt’s behavior. Since season 2 has already begun filming, I assume Ava and Matt will be dealing with a newborn and a serial killer in the new season.

Season one ended unresolved, so a lot of answers and more plot twists are on their way. Women directors for the series include Jennifer Arnold, Francesca Gregorini, and Anu Valia. This 8 episode comedy series is streaming on Peacock.

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