‘Based On A True Story’ Theories: Is Matt Really The Westside Ripper?

It is a usual night in LA. An attractive, confident-looking young brunette woman is casually practicing zumba inside her classy apartment. All of a sudden, she hears a strange knock on her door. But there’s no one outside. She gets back to business—until she sees this big, shadowy figure in the mirror, standing right behind her.


You know what happened next, as you have voraciously binge-watched Peacock’s Based on a True Story recently and now can’t stop obsessing over it. The crime comedy is slowly becoming all the rage thanks to its highly thrilling storyline, laced with a lot of humor. The simultaneously addictive and funny show has played it boldly by revealing its serial killer in the very first episode. But it has (I bet intentionally) left enough doubts for us to draw many theories, implying that Matt Pierce, the plumber, is not the serial killer. I myself had thought about so many theories, ranging from fairly logical to absolutely ludicrous. In this article, I am going to put all of that together. Obviously, there will be spoilers up ahead, so in case you haven’t watched the show yet, this is your warning.

Matt Is Not The Killer But Just A Phony

Have we really seen Matt actually kill someone? The entire scene where he sees Chloe in the supermarket and then eventually stabs her at her apartment can very well be something the guy is imagining, especially if you think about the show’s constant habit of using scenes that are only happening in the characters’ heads. At the Crime Con, Matt had this elaborate fantasy about killing every single person around him, which only strengthens this theory. The guy is just a plumber with a failed marriage and an insignificant life. With Ava and Nathan coming up with their “foolproof” theory of him being “The Westside Ripper,” Matt’s life suddenly has meaning. He is actually enjoying the attention that he is getting, thanks to the podcast. Not to mention, the prospect of getting rich while being anonymous also smells like a grand opportunity, which is too hard to let go of.


But Then, Who Could Be The West Side Ripper?

Still continuing with my theory of Matt not being the serial killer, I am putting my money on Simon. While the character initially appears to be a basic, one-dimensional, cash-rich husband, we eventually realize that there is more to him than that. Unlike Matt, who we haven’t really seen doing anything criminal, Simon casually buys his wife’s boyfriend off to break her affair. Shortly after doing that, he actually shoots the dog, McEnroe, which makes him worse than a serial killer in my book. But the point is, if someone can do things like that, then he can very well be “The Westside Ripper.” 

If we hold on to this theory, then Simon walking in on the couple when they are scrubbing off Ruby’s blood at the beach house is not a coincidence. He only goes there to check if the couple is properly taking care of the evidence that he’d left. It can also be that the guy is just insane and having his kind of fun by teasing the couple, first by eagerly wanting to find out if the mobile phone is inside the trunk of Nathan’s car and then by surprising the couple at the beach house.


It Might Just Be Ava’s Hot Client

First, let us let Simon off the hook. He is just a crazy dog killer, and his antics are not more than what we see. This means we need to pin the murders on another person, and it has to be Ryan, the “too hot to handle” client about whom Ava can’t stop fantasizing. There’s no hard evidence of Ryan being “The Westside Ripper.” But just the fact that the existence of the character is more than throwaway but not particularly important enough to affect the narrative is what brings him into the equation. Sure, the purpose of the character might just be to show that Ava is not physically attracted to her husband, which is a clear sign of the imminent demise of their marriage. But ruling out Ryan just yet takes away some of the fun, so I am not going to do that.

But Matt Might Actually Be The Killer

Alright, time to contradict myself. But hear me out here. What if Matt indeed is “The Westside Ripper,” and the show has deliberately pushed us towards forming theories like “he is just pretending to be one”? At this point, I think the guy not being the killer is a more stable theory than him actually being one. So, the show might just present things in such a manner that we don’t buy the plumber is the killer theory. This is a case of reverse psychology, and looking at what I have been writing so far, it actually seems to be working. Will I be disappointed if Matt is proven to be “The Westside Ripper”? Probably yes. But there might be more twists in the tale; you never know.


Maybe It’s Just A Random Serial Killer

That would be underwhelming but might also go in sync with the show’s satirical tone. If “The Westside Ripper” is just a random maniac we don’t know, then Matt is just a plumber, Ava is just a true-crime-obsessed woman, and Nathan is basically a loser. And everything else is unimportant, and the entire show was basically a ploy to engage us, only to eventually abandon us with an unsatisfactory, anti-climactic ending. That is a depressing thought, but the very reason Based on a True Story got so popular is that we, as the audience, love fictional murders a bit too much. It is a depressing thought, but the social commentary on a crime-obsessed society is not limited to the one we see on the show. We are part of it as well.

Is It You, Nathan?

I told you I went to the land of ludicrousness while doing this thing. But I just didn’t put this theory in the oven. I seasoned it as well. Nathan Bartlett is clearly unhappy with how his life has turned out. There are several moments in the show where he is almost about to lose it. He does manage to keep the rage inside, though, at the cost of hurting his own hand at times. Add to that the fact that Nathan had not one but two interactions with Chloe, with the second one happening merely a few hours before she was murdered. Although Nathan’s genuinely freaking out when Simon is just about to open the trunk of the car sort of dismantles the theory, maybe that’s just a fear of getting caught.


I did question my own sanity after thinking about this theory, though. After that, I decided to stop thinking and move on with my life. But before that, I had to write everything down in order to sort things out for myself as well as for you all. I hope when you read it, you enjoy it as much as I did while working on it.

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Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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