1 of 5 | Priscilla Quintana's "Based on a True Story" premieres on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Peacock
NEW YORK, June 7 (UPI) -- Good Trouble alum Priscilla Quintana says her new mystery dramedy, Based on a True Story, deftly explores people's peculiar passion for murder-themed podcasts.
"The show does a good job of poking fun at America's fascination and obsession really with true crime," Quintana told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "The show navigates that perfectly. It is able to make fun of itself and it takes the things seriously that it needs to."
Premiering Thursday on Peacock, the eight-episode, dark comedic TV series follows Ava (Kaley Cuoco), a cash-strapped, California real-estate agent and her former tennis star husband Nathan (Chris Messina), who stumble across a serial killer and blackmail the person into making a podcast with them.
The couple expects a quick pay day, but instead finds themselves at the beck and call of a demanding collaborator who wants creative control because they are worried about their "brand."
Quintana plays Ava's wealthy best friend and fellow podcast lover Ruby, while Light as a Feather actress Liana Liberato plays Ava's younger sister Tory, a law student.
The showrunner is Craig Rosenberg -- whose credits include The Boys and Gen V -- and the cast includes Tom Bateman, Natalia Dyer, Alex Alomar Akpobome, Aisha Alfa, Annabelle Dexter-Jones and Li Jun Li.
"I felt really connected to Kaley's character," said Liberato. "It does feel like a bit of escapism, a bit of entertainment, which poses a very big question to us as a society: 'Why do we find these [podcasts] so fascinating?'"
The actresses understand this morbid passion.
"I listen to all the podcasts," Quintana said. "I watch all the shows. I listen to Crime Junkie and I was on Podcast 300-and-something earlier and I was like: 'I really listened to this many? That's insane.'"
Liberato described herself as a "podcast girlie."
"Unless it's Taylor Swift, I'm listening to podcasts," she added.
"I think that's a good juxtaposition," Quintana chimed in.
Liberato was impressed with her character Tory's point of view regarding true crime stories and how she asks solid questions about who benefits from exploiting them.
"I feel like most people in her generation are overly invested," she said. "You look at Instagram and TikTok and you have all of these people putting on their investigator hats and trying to insert themselves into cases.
"Tory is very different than that. She very much questions and struggles with the fascination that we have over violence and doesn't seem actually that desensitized to it."
Quintana added, "It used to be the people that were so interested in it were the rare ones, but now that has completely flipped in our society."
Ruby was a blast to play for Quintana since she is so different from who she is in real life.
"She's fun, she's sassy, she's whip-smart, she gets exactly what she wants. She stops at nothing. She turns lemons into diamonds. She's hell on heels," the actress said.
"Her and I are polar opposites, so that was really fun to explore," she added.
Liberato called Tory the "complete opposite" of Ruby.
"She is incredibly grounded to a point sometimes where, as an actor, I was like, 'Am I on the same show as these people?'" Liberato said.
"She is definitely a bit of a lighthouse in the midst of a crazy storm which causes quite the obstacle in Ava and Nathan's life in kind of an unintentional way," she added.
Quintana said Ruby and Tory both disrupt Ava's and Nathan's lives.
"I do it on purpose. She does it on accident," Quintana said. "I'm Ava's best friend, so we have a very close relationship, almost sisterly, but then this is her real sister, so I can't compete with that."
Tory is grateful to Ava and Nathan for taking her into their home at a difficult time in her life.
"She feels, in a way, rescued by Ava and Nathan, and she has an immense amount of respect for them and puts them on a pedestal, which I think, again, causes trouble down the line with the actions that they take to stay afloat," Liberato said."Also, there is that sibling mentality that comes in where Tory just wants to do her own thing."
In addition to starring in the show while she was expecting her first child, Cuoco also served as an executive producer on the series.
"I can't believe she did a whole show pregnant. She's absolutely incredible," Liberato said.
"She was [Tory's] big sister on the show, but she really felt like a big sister to both of us in real life. She is so nurturing and she also is hilarious," Quintana added.