Now Streaming is a weekly column that reviews and analyzes the latest streaming content for you and runs on Wednesdays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.
Let us crawl the web for you. Subscribe to web_crawlr here.
“I had to get a little creative,” says Paul T. Goldman a few episodes into the new Peacock series of the same name, referring to the screenplay he wrote about bringing down a global sex-trafficking ring. He also brings that energy to the chaotic production that is Paul T. Goldman.
Director Jason Woliner (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) had been working on this project for a decade, after Goldman tweeted at him in 2012 and told him he needed help adapting his 2009 self-published book, Duplicity, to the big screen. Woliner’s directing work on Nathan For You (and with Sacha Baron Cohen) no doubt prepared him for curveballs, but Goldman is a different character.
Parts of the six-episode series, which debuted Jan. 1, play out more like The Rehearsal, in that Goldman is playing himself in a recreation of events, and might not be entirely truthful. In the first few episodes, we learn how the West Palm Beach-based man discovered his second wife, “Audrey,” was part of a global prostitution ring and was fleecing him (and other men) for money.
While the series adheres to a more straightforward true-crime format (talking heads, archival footage), it also plays with the boundaries of a recreation. In one awkward scene where Goldman is instructing an actress playing a sex worker on how she should act—“You know, typical hooker, no brain”—the camera cuts to Woliner covering his eyes.
Does Woliner let his subject have creative control over certain aspects because it’s funnier that way? Goldman’s an odd guy, and that’s entertaining at first, but he’s not a good actor, which, at times, is even more entertaining. Then there are familiar tough-guys such as Frank Grillo and W. Earl Brown in supporting roles alongside Goldman, which takes you out of it a bit.
Woliner steps in every once in a while to question whether something happened the way Goldman says, but lets the viewer decide whether they think he’s being honest or getting a little creative. This is a man who obviously craves recognition and has a wild imagination: So whose vision is this?
Why it matters
Peacock got rid of a handful of original comedies last year, and is apparently focusing more on drama and true crime in 2023. Paul T. Goldman is part of that push, a true-crime hybrid model of sorts. And there are already Twitter theories about whether Goldman is real or an actor. (His old Twitter account is still active, but hasn’t tweeted since 2018.)
I didn’t get the final episode, so maybe all the threads come together. But there was something missing here: I didn’t laugh much while viewing, but did wonder if I was supposed to be laughing at Goldman.