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‘Based on a True Story’ Will Have You Questioning Your Love of True Crime

The ladies in Based on a True Story at their podcast night

There are many fans of the true crime genre in the world. But should we be concerned about that fandom? That’s sort of the question posed by Peacock’s new series Based on a True Story, in which a couple is faced with an impossible decision, all in the name of money, fame, and their love of murder podcasts. Ava (Kaley Cuoco) is a pregnant real estate agent who is struggling to keep her family together with her husband Nathan (Chris Messina). Nathan was a once great tennis player who has since taken to coaching a new generation of players at a country club and is not aggressively trying to change his life. It results in a mundane mentality in their marriage that Ava fills with a true crime obsession.

Ava listens to a podcast hosted by two sisters who break down murder cases from around the world. She listens to them with her group of friends and has a seemingly unhealthy relationship with true crime as a whole, a narrative the series really highlights. Sometimes, we get a little too into the idea of true crime and miss the story we’re actually being told. We’re constantly hearing about the killers, not the victims.

The idea is that Ava and Nathan come in contact with a serial killer on their own, and they can either turn the killer in or start a podcast about the murders, and … well, Ava’s love of true crime sets them on a path to their own destruction. Based on a True Story is constantly showing us our love for the murderers in these situations and how the victims are often ignored, and it’s a fascinating look at the true crime obsession. Especially with the inclusion of multiple murder-centric podcasts.

Maybe we should care less about serial killers?

The podcasters talking on Based on a True Story

Based on a True Story doesn’t outright say that you shouldn’t listen to a murder podcast. The show does, however, posit the idea that our obsession with murder might be misguided. Often, true crime media focuses on the killer and what made them into one. We lose the stories of the victims and what they were going through at the time, and the family and loved ones mourning them. We’re left with stories of how the killers escaped or their personal journey, but we rarely even know the victims’ names.

What I really love about Based on a True Story is that the series first highlights our obsession before it switches gears to highlight how the victims get lost in the narrative. And it is really hilarious for all the right reasons. We’re laughing along with this couple trying to uplift a serial killer for their own benefit. We’re losing it as they get in over their heads and do some wild things to cover up their tracks, but we also get to explore the real problems with true crime as an obsession.

All this to say that we don’t have to feel bad about our obsession with true crime. Women tend to be attracted to the genre because many of the victims are women and we’re exploring the fear that we live with daily. But what Based on a True Story does is highlight how we’ve become obsessed and the downsides of that obsession in a really fascinating way.

Based on a True Story is now streaming on Peacock and is definitely worth a watch!

(featured image: Peacock)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.