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Why we love Based On A True Story

Why we love Based On A True Story

This comic thriller series about suburban podcasters who collaborate with a real-life killer delivers twists and turns as well as laughs. Here’s why you won’t regret doing time with Sky Max’s Based On A True Story

By Torri Mundell, Feature Writer

Sky Max’s comedy drama Based On A True Story is a merciless spoof of the true crime genre, but there’s no mystery about why the show has been such a huge hit with viewers. A legion of fans are already raving about its sly humour, killer cast and violent twists.


Join in the water-cooler chat about this subversive new thriller by catching up on every episode before the finale airs on Sky Max HD (CH 111).


Need some more persuasion? We’ve taken a stab at gathering all the reasons we’re loving this funny, whip-smart and thought-provoking drama.


The storyline is full of unexpected turns

If true crime podcasts have taught us anything, it’s to ask lots of questions, which is how we discovered that Based On A True Story is not based on a true story. But this doesn’t make the show’s bold premise any less fascinating – you’ll be gripped (and entertained) from the opening credits.


The series follows a listless married couple just scraping by in a Los Angeles suburb. Ava (Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant) is pregnant and thoroughly uninspired by her property realtor job, while her husband Nathan (Chris Messina, The Mindy Project), a failed tennis star, languishes at a local club coaching rich kids.


The only thing that distracts Ava from her ennui? Murder. She’s a passionate consumer of true crime documentaries and podcasts, and when she and Nathan accidentally discover the identity of their neighbourhood serial killer (Tom Bateman, Murder On The Orient Express), they hatch an audacious plan: confront the murderer, insist that he stop his killing spree, and blackmail him to star, anonymously, on their new podcast. Then they’ll just wait for the plaudits and money to come rolling in. It’s the perfect crime – what could possibly go wrong?


It’s a brilliant mash-up of different genres

We love the way the story subverts the traditional TV whodunnit trajectory; after all, the murderer is revealed in the very first episode. Nonetheless, there are enough plot twists and jeopardy to keep you on the edge of your seat through the next seven instalments, as well as shockingly graphic gore and LOLs when you least expect them (including, just to warn you, a violent death early on in the first episode). Those come courtesy of a razor-sharp script and wry send-ups of serial killer documentaries, suburban stereotypes and more.


The show creators have a great track record

The comedy thriller’s taut mix of humour, suspense and violence can be attributed to the show creators and their genre-bending CVs. Creator and showrunner Craig Rosenberg is one of the brains behind blood-spattered superhero satires The Boys and Gen V, and executive producer Jason Bateman has been drawn to acting roles in leftfield comedies (Arrested Development, Game Night) as well as much darker fare (Ozark).


Kaley Cuoco is a charismatic lead

Cuoco is a delight as Ava, the frazzled property-agent-turned-amateur-sleuth-turned-podcaster-slash-extortionist. The role relies on her well-honed comic timing, developed over 12 seasons on the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, as well as the acting chops she demonstrated more recently in the critically acclaimed series The Flight Attendant.


Watching Cuoco nimbly segue from silliness to dramatic moments and back again, sometimes in the same scene, is thoroughly enjoyable – as is the chemistry between Ava, her husband and their new BFF, the neighbourhood serial killer.


The show explores our obsession with true crime

It seems as though our appetite for true crime documentaries, dramatisations and podcasts – the more gruesome the better – is inexhaustible. But what does our preoccupation with humanity’s darkest impulses say about us? Based On A True Story shines a light on the fact that, collectively, we’ve adopted a very weird pastime – and that somewhere along the way, some of us have forgotten that real people are affected by the bloody and violent acts that fascinate us.


Where can I watch Based On A True Story?

Based On A True Story is on Fridays at 9pm on Sky Max HD (CH 109). The season finale is on Friday 26 January, and you can catch up with all episodes before that in On Demand.


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