This blackly comic drama follows a woman’s discovery that her missing spouse – who popped out for chow mein and never came back – is a conman. Her quest for revenge is a total thrill
Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, centred his best-known shows around distinctly unlikable protagonists. One was a teacher turned drug lord, the other a frequently criminal lawyer. But viewers were enthralled by the antics of Walter White and Saul Goodman even when they were deplorable because, he said: “Viewers respond to people who are good at their job, even when they are bad.” In The Following Events Are Based on a Pack of Lies, you may not be rooting for sociopathic conman Rob Chance (Alistair Petrie), but you can’t help but get a thrill out of just how skilled he is at pulling off his schemes.
The series, from sibling writers Penelope and Ginny Skinner, follows Alice (Rebekah Staton), his ex-wife, who spots Rob years after he told her he was popping out for chow mein and never returned. Brutal breakup technique aside, he also took with him all her money and her parent’s retirement fund. She sees him on a street in Oxford, now claiming to be an academic and “disruption exploration” pioneer, giving lectures on his time at the north pole to gaggles of well-meaning environmental enthusiasts. While Alice seeks revenge on the man who ruined her life, another life is in danger as successful author Cheryl Harker (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) is slowly being caught in his web. Though Cheryl has confidence, legions of fans and a home where gargantuan jewel-toned rooms are lined with heavy silk curtains and opulent crushed-velvet sofas, Rob spots in her a critical vulnerability. Having recently lost her husband to dementia, she is ripe to be swept up by a morally bankrupt man who says all the right things. And though we may want to scream at Cheryl to be smarter and spot that she’s being conned, ultimately … this guy is good at his job.