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

It’s been said a story is only as good as its villain. Antagonists ain’t easy. How can one be fun and maintain menace? Well, actor Tom Bateman does just that in Based On A True Story — a performance more than worthy of recognition.

Some of the most entertaining villains are fun, or at the very least, have a sense of fun about themselves. In the Craig Rosenberg show, killer Matt Pierce (Bateman) is having a blast. There’s no moral anguish, just glee and productivity in the games he plays with “true crime” podcast hosts, Ava (Kaley Cuoco) and Nathan (Chris Messina).

Bateman plays it all along as if he likes these people, and yet, is OK killing them any second if he decides to do so.

Batman knows how to change the channel — flip the tone tone — in an instant. The actor didn’t just understand the assignment of the dark comedy, he relished it. It’s a performance that’s fun without softening any knives.

Also, what a cadence the actor possesses.

Some actors are just enjoyable to listen to, especially when they got juicy lines; Pierce falls into that exclusive camp. There’s some cruel and fun dialogue in Based on a True Story; Bateman goes low-key ham with it. He’s in on the joke but never makes it obvious. It’s a tightrope he walks well, and so does the rest of the cast. Special shoutout to Priscilla Quintana, playing a character you fear and like.

What’s especially compelling about Bateman’s presence is there’s always danger present. Even when he’s smiley, he’s scary. I mean, look at him, an actor who’s genuinely imposing! Apologies for the exclamation point, but how many giant dudes do we see on-screen these days? Matt Pierce towers over people, which is necessary for Based On A True Story since the killer sees himself above everyone else.

Bateman is a believable handsome devil. You can see how this guy would charm his way through a party and enjoy murder for dessert. In Bateman’s hands, Matt Pierce is one of the most entertaining killers on television.

Based On A True Story is now available to stream on Peacock.

Miles Kelley

Miles Kelly is a part-time writer, full-time worrier. He has years of copywriting experience in the entertainment industry under his belt. Miles thanks you for reading his news posts and occasional features.