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Is Peacock’s ‘Paul T. Goldman’ Based On A Real Story?

There’s an abundance of new shows to watch as we say hello to 2023, so it’s easy for a new series to get lost in the streaming shuffle. While cord-cutters have been talking about the midseason finale of Yellowstone and Netflix’s exciting new heist drama Kaleidoscope, a compelling new Peacock series has flown under the radar: Paul T. Goldman.

Created by Jason Woliner (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Nathan for You), the mind-bending new program mixes fact and fiction to share the bizarre story of Paul T. Goldman, a divorced father who (long story short) uncovers his second wife’s massive (alleged) crime ring. The first three episodes of this ambitious hybrid series — an unconventional meta mix of documentary, reality TV, and dramatized reenactments starring Goldman from a screenplay Goldman himself wrote — are now streaming on Peacock, and it’s safe to say the show is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. But is it based on a true story? Here’s everything you need to know.

Is Peacock’s Paul T. Goldman Based On A True Story?

We’ll let Paul T. Goldman (real name Paul Finkelman) answer that question. “I am Paul T. Goldman. I went through it, and I went from wimp to warrior,” Goldman says in the first few minutes of the show. “I have been asked countless times, ‘Is this for real? Did this stuff actually happen?’ I couldn’t make this up. I’m a regular guy who got caught up in extraordinary circumstances. It’s all been put in the book.”

Book? That’s right! In 2009, Goldman published a book titled Duplicity: A True Story of Crime and Deceit. Like many similar shows, the answer to the true story question is a little hazy, with the most accurate description of Paul T. Goldman being a mix of reality and fiction. So how did the book turn into a series? With the help of Twitter, of course.

In 2012, Goldman tweeted at Jason Woliner. The director explained the show’s origin story in a statement provided by Peacock. “[Paul] said that he had an incredible story to tell and had written a book – and a screenplay – about it. He asked for my help bringing it to the screen,” Woliner wrote in the statement. “When I clicked on his Twitter, I saw that he had tweeted the same exact thing to hundreds of other people. I clicked on his website and watched a video he’d shot himself: He was a middle-aged, nebbishy guy delivering a monologue about how he’d been the victim of a shocking betrayal that led to a transformation ‘from wimp to warrior’ and set him on a mission to bring down an (alleged) international crime ring. I bought the book immediately. It instantly became my favorite book I’ve ever read.”

Woliner has been developing the series for over a decade, calling it the “most conceptually ambitious and personal project” he’s ever worked on. I’m going to reiterate that Jason previously worked on Nathan for You and directed Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

Paul T. Goldman has been met with mixed reviews (it currently has a 64% Tomatometer score), but it seems to be beloved by fans and creators of alt comedy.

If you’re looking for a fresh, innovative new series, Paul T. Goldman might just be for you. New episodes drop Sundays on Peacock.

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