When the original Peacock 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’s exactly what the title tells us, so it’s only natural to assume that it might be based on or inspired by real events. But before we dive into that question, let’s take a look at the introduction to the show. Based on a true story Stars Kaley Cuoco as Ava, a true crime addict, Chris Messina as Nathan, a failed tennis pro, and Tom Bateman as Matt, the West Side Ripper. When Ava finds out that a dead plumber is a serial killer, she hatches the idea of making a deal with him.
Once Ava joins Nathan with her plan, he confronts Matt about what they know and instructs him that they should do a podcast together. Yes, that’s right, podcast. Matt is reluctant at first but agrees on the condition that they team up (control him), make creative decisions together, and in exchange, he won’t kill anyone else. The podcast was then titled “Based on a True Story” because it features the testimony of an “active” serial killer. With that in mind, the answer to the question is no; This show is not based on a true story.
Origins based on a true story
Now that we know that 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 pop culture sensation recently, with the advent of documentaries, podcasts, and movies/shows featuring the stories of serial killers.
Although many do not like to admit it, serial killers have become celebrities. Sparkling, sexy and commodious. This led writer Craig Rosenberg and producers Jason Bateman and Michael Costigan to develop the idea for this show about a married couple who blackmail a serial killer to do a podcast.
Of course, this show is a satire on the true crime genre and the prevailing obsession with killers. Rather than turn Matt once Ava and Nathan discover who he is, they decide to take advantage of this unique opportunity. At first, the podcast is bust, but their luck changes when they attend a true crime convention where Matt does a second episode live without Ava and Nathan knowing.
His identity remains unknown, but everyone now knows about the podcast, which is going viral. Next thing the group knows, everyone is talking about “Based on a True Story” and voicing their opinions on it, some enjoying it, some thinking it’s real, some thinking it’s fake, and many are disgusted that the podcast is being cancelled.
However, Ava and Nathan, naïve in their belief that they can control a killer, are now in a dangerous situation if they are discovered. Not only risking the safety of others and allowing Matt to profit from his new killings but also endangering their lives, including their unborn child. Not to mention the possibility that if they are caught, they will very likely end up in prison for the rest of their lives and unable to raise their child or build the future they crave.
Fictional serial killer
To prepare for his role as a psychopath, Tom Bateman researched how people with antisocial personality disorders act. They often appear as charming and funny individuals, and Batman wanted to create a character full of contradictions.
On the one hand, he seems to be a good person and friend to Nathan. He’s also a good father who loves his child, and we’ve got a few scenes where we see him interact with, spoil, and play with his son. But on the other hand, he is manipulative, controlling, and kills people for fun and power. However, this good-natured personality is just a mask to hide his darkness.
However, in this show, Batman allows Matt’s mask to crack a bit when he’s 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 a threat to them so he can get his way with the podcast, but he doesn’t have to try too hard to hide in their presence. Then he gets an ego boost with the podcast, and despite their efforts to control him, he can’t resist the urge to hurt people and decides to kill again. This time, however, Ava and Nathan are his accomplices.
Although Bateman has stated that he enjoyed playing the character, he has expressed that he finds the ability of psychopaths to hurt people and derive pleasure from it repugnant. It’s one thing to be a chaotic and unpredictable character in a work of fiction, but the killers’ actions in real life are unforgivable. Which begs the question about the true crime genre, where do we draw the line between fantasy and reality when it comes to retelling and imagining stories of serial killers?