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Is Based on a True Story Actually Inspired by Real-Life Events? What to Know About West Side Ripper
The West Side Ripper terrorizes a city in Based on a True Story, leading to an unconventional podcast. But is Based on a True Story based on a true story? Well ...
A new Peacock series gives us all the things we love (and love to hate) about the true crime genre, but is Based on a True Story actually based on a true story? Well, to put it plainly, no.
Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina star as husband and wife Ava and Nathan in the new satirical thriller surrounding a couple that attempts to create the hottest new true crime podcast. Their subject? The West Side Ripper, the moniker for an elusive serial killer targeting young women in the Los Angeles area and captivating the world around them.
But is the West Side Ripper based off an actual serial killer in particular? Here's what to know.
Is The West Side Ripper Real?
Lo and behold, the character of the West Side Ripper is not based on any one killer but rather a generalization of many.
While the fictional West Side Ripper terrorizes the community in Based on a True Story, real-life killers have actually made the streets of Los Angeles their hunting grounds throughout history, even though they didn't directly inspire the West Side Ripper.
Some of these include the infamous Hillside Strangler, which turned out to be cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono Jr., both convicted of killing a dozen women between them in the 1970s and dumping the victims’ bodies in the hills surrounding the city.
Freeway Killer William Bonin raped and murdered no less than 21 young men and boys between 1979 and 1980, primarily leaving their bodies along Southern California freeways. Infamous serial killer Richard Ramirez, known as “Night Stalker,” also got 19 death sentences for terrorizing L.A. and the Bay Area with more than a dozen residential break-ins and occult-style killings.
After adding the likes of Charles Manson and the Grim Sleeper Lonnie Franklin Jr. to the list, you can see L.A. has a long reputation for vicious and haunting murders.
Outside L.A., Based on a True Story’s West Side ripper shares the “ripper” moniker with other rippers of history, including the still-unidentified Atlanta Ripper, Gainesville Ripper Danny Rolling, Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, the former Soviet Union’s Rostov Ripper, and most infamous of all, the never-captured Jack the Ripper.
Why Based on a True Story Is Set in L.A.
Due in part to having a violent history, Los Angeles has been home to many a noir story, as well as other subgenres in fiction and nonfiction crime. It becomes a juxtaposition since the area itself is one full of sunshine, glitz, and glam.
Based on a True Story executive producer Michael Costigan called this “sunshine noir.”
“L.A. is a world where everyone seems to have more — more successful, more beautiful, more everything,” said Costigan. “But everyone actually feels the same way with their own insecurities and desires.”
Showrunner Craig Rosenberg said L.A. also made it easy for writers to show the main characters, Ava and Nathan, living unfulfilled and in want. For many viewers, this struggle is relatable.
“This is a couple who had big goals and youthful ambitions, and they haven’t come to fruition,” said Rosenberg. “Meanwhile, their friends are living in really expensive homes on the west side of Los Angeles where there’s a lot of money and privilege… We wanted to explore how this aspirational life in Los Angeles has twisted and deformed our characters into doing something crazy.”
Is the Podcast in Based on a True Story Real?
No. While Ava and Nathan’s true-crime podcast, aptly titled Based on a True Story, makes for a binge-worthy series’ focus, it is unlikely that one like it has ever been made in real life.
The series revolves around a couple monetizing a serial killer’s exploits by bribing the West Side Ripper himself to be a part of their creative content. But outside fiction, such a podcast would not only be morally unethical but it would also have some serious legal ramifications.
Thankfully for the podcasters, these troubles are tempered by the comedic tone taken by the writers.
“These two people are not having a good time, and they seize an opportunity that maybe not many people would seize when it’s right in front of them,” said Cuoco of her character and her character’s husband. “It’s probably not the wisest decision on their part, but they’re in too deep, and so [the characters] all get involved in this complete sh-t show, which ends up being very funny.”
Where to Watch Based on A True Story
Peacock will drop all eight episodes of Based on a True Story (and its fictionalized West Side Ripper) on Thursday, June 8.