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‘Based on a True Story’: The Vogue of Killer Content

in September 2022 episode of “you are wrongOn the History podcast, writer Michael Hobbs noted that the number of serial killers may be declining, and that could be a problem, he said.

“Get out there, you serial killers,” he said. “You have to produce good content.”

Hobbes was joking, but serial killers and podcasts dedicated to them bring value to the growing real crime industry. millions of dollars. Now, the eight-episode Peacock satire “Based on a True Story,” which arrived in full last week, poses a thorny question. What if a serial killer was not only the subject of a real case, but also the organizer, even the maker? – A crime podcast?

The idea is not at all wild. The world of real crime is full of podcasts that have been criticized for being ethical. compromised and flawedcharged with plagiarism, etc. racial insensitivity and prejudice against the police. Television series based on real crimes have been similarly criticized. The documentary series “The Jinx” is an edited version of the murderer’s confession. “Make a Murderer”, for its presentation and omission detailthe scripted drama Monster: The Story of Jeffrey Dahmer is known for humanizing its subject matter at the expense of Dahmer’s work. victim.

Created by Craig Rosenberg (“The Boys”), “Based on a True Story” is a dark, comical tale of real crime and its conventions, clichés and moral compromises. Matt (played by Tom Bateman) is a friendly plumber by day and a feared West Side Ripper. by night. A couple desperate for excitement and cash (a pregnant Eva played by Kaley Cuoco, who is also pregnant, and Nathan played by Chris Messina) learns who he is and blackmails him into planning a podcast. murderer’s point of view.

“Finally, good luck!” Eva says. “A serial killer has fallen to our knees.”

One of the central challenges, however, is how the creators and performers of “Based on a True Story” can avoid the same crimes as the genre they claim to criticize, and how its I wondered if it could be avoided. After all, this is still a comedy about some particularly gruesome murders.

It was important for Cuoco and Messina to keep their own characters’ behavior in proper light.

“In my opinion, Eva and Nathan are as bad as the murderers,” Cuoco, who is also an executive producer, said in a recent phone interview. “I know Eva is trying to believe, ‘Yeah, this is what we’re stopping him for.’ It’s both wrong and funny.”

In a separate interview, Messina said she had a permanent struggle to understand the tone.

“Every day, I said to Kaley, ‘Is this funny or serious?'” he said. Obviously, people are being killed, so it’s no laughing matter. But there’s screwball comedy and horror, along with big hearts.

“Like the scene in the Coen Brothers’ Fargo where they put someone on a wood chipper. Why am I laughing one moment and terrified the next?”

The absurdity increases rapidly as the story progresses. Initially, Matt was supposed to be just an interview subject, with his voice hidden. However, as the plot progresses, he emerges as the de facto showrunner.

He upgrades the place and facilities. He changes the beginning, the end and the music to provide a new compilation. He rejects any notes about stories or brands.

“It just seems like a silly conversation considering we’re talking about people who were killed,” Bateman said. “And the funny thing is, he felt like he was being seen for the first time in his life, so he became more and more involved artistically.”

Executive producer Michael Costigan said he believes the podcasters’ artistic tussle illustrates a common mistake in the real world of crime: losing sight of the reality of crime.

“Kaylee’s character is arguing her own ideas but forgetting something: ‘I’m sitting across from the perpetrator,'” he says. “We thought this was absolutely a metaphor for millions of people getting lost in stories as escapism. What are they forgetting?”

Another executive producer, Jason Bateman (unrelated to Tom), He said he thought a lot about the show’s tone and wanted to avoid making the characters’ actions too “silly” or “campy” based on reality. It’s a tough line to walk, he admitted.

Reflecting, in part, their own internal debates, the writers and producers created the character played by Ever Carradine, the mother of a West Side Ripper victim. Her participation in the Commission on True Crime raises the question of whether she respects or exploits her daughter.

“In that scene, I wondered what the lines were,” Costigan said. “This is about her wanting to talk about her daughter, but at the same time wanting to be part of this world. I sincerely hope that people will see the world through my lens.”

critic offal pointed To Recent research It suggests that fans of the genre (mostly women) may be suffering from a kind of true criminal brain that is out of sync with the overall decline in violent crime in recent decades: a heightened sense of fear. ing. It has also spawned many self-proclaimed experts, as the emergence of web detectives attests. Eva’s wine and crime club has some real crime freaks, and being a fan of the podcast “Sisters in Crime,” we believe she’s mastered the genre.

“Eva calls the corpse something like ‘DB,'” Cuoco said, admitting she’s a huge Date Line fan. “She talks like she’s actually on those shows,” she said.

The same delusion that Cuoco’s Eva realizes that Matt is the West Side Ripper unfortunately leads her to believe she can control a serial killer and lose sight of her victims. In the original script, Eva and Nathan were supposed to be parents to a teenage child, but when Cuoco became pregnant, she suggested that Eva get pregnant as well. It helped her raise the stakes and work out why Eva was blinded by the need to make money.

“Her life is chaotic,” Cuoco said. “This is a distraction.”

The characters go on an expedition to find potential fan bases. climb con, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Orlando and other cities in a series of real-life competitions for true crime enthusiasts. As explained by the actor and other producers, Rosenberg himself is a real crime fan, and after attending such an event, it made him think even more about how criminals become famous. . (A Peacock spokesperson said Rosenberg couldn’t comment because of the ongoing writers’ strike.)

“Mr Craig heard people there discussing who his favorite serial killer was, as if they were football players,” said Tom Bateman. He roams the floor and observes merchandise being sold under his name, like any other serial killer, but he doesn’t rank as high as he thinks he does.

Cuoco said he enjoyed exploring the genre with humor. But she acknowledged that there are some serious questions about real crime that even this satire cannot fully address. That includes the future of the genre, which is “already on the edge”.

“It’s a fine line,” she added. “I would not condone a serial killer doing a podcast in real life. I feel like We cannot do anything by ourselves. “

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