Forget Lost, and forget Severance. Peacock's Paul T. Goldman is the latest TV show that will break your brain. I would know because I only recently started it, and I'm already confused and obsessed — in equal parts.
Sadly, I worry that Paul T. Goldman is destined to be an under-appreciated gem of the current era of streaming. Such is the problem of an excessive amount of options: the less glitzy and glamorous programs often fall by the wayside. Just, you know, scroll up and look at the titular Mr. Goldman.
Paul T. Goldman, the man, has none of the charms that pull in the audiences of mega-hits (Euphoria's Sydney Sweeney he's not), medium-sized hits (Goldman couldn't even get booked at The White Lotus). He's corny, wholesome and weird. And his show is the most perplexing thing on TV — in the best way.
Why I love Paul T. Goldman
Ever heard of Nathan Fielder's The Rehearsal (one of the best HBO Max shows)? Paul T. Goldman is similar enough to it to draw comparisons, but unique enough to stand out. Both shows are initially positioned to be documentaries and true stories, yet each keeps you guessing.
Its titular protagonist is — just like he says in the show — the author of a 2009 book about betrayal that you can find on Amazon (opens in new tab) right now. In the series, Mr. Goldman tells his story about he was scammed by Audrey Munson, a woman he was seeing (and later married). All he wanted, we're told, is companionship and a woman who would be a good step-mother for his son Johnny.
I'm going to be spare with the details about what I say next (to avoid spoilers), but you won't believe what you're seeing. The things Goldman agrees to are absolutely bonkers. And then he uncovers supposed crimes that shocked him, and may shock you. And all the while, Goldman is playing himself in reenactment scenes — the kind of stuff you get in true crime documentaries and shows — right before he'll just start talking to director Jason Woliner.
And that's the last tip to know about up front. Woliner's a collaborator of Nathan Fielder. The same Fielder whose series The Rehearsal was the last show that had me saying "what the f**k am I watching?" — with a smile on my face. Both shows even share a producer: Eric Notarnicola.
Paul T. Goldman, the series, doesn't let a scene go by without giving audiences something truly engaging. It's like a page-turner you can't put down, and one that has the least likely of stars. Goldman is a completely unassuming character, but you constantly wonder if this is all a front.
And to that, I'll simply say: feel free to dig in and Google. This goofy guy is definitely not what he seems.
Paul T. Goldman reviews: What the critics say
But don't just take my word for it. Paul T. Goldman (opens in new tab) currently holds a decent 71% score on Rotten Tomatoes, a solid score for a show this bizarre.
Liz Shannon Miller at Consequence (opens in new tab) gave Paul T. Goldman an A- rating in her review, where she wrote "the series is less a shocking tale of sex and crime and more a fascinating portrait of a man and his ambitions: his desire for fame, for revenge, or maybe just being seen. And seen he is, through a lens that is alternately dark, strange, bizarre, and, more often than not, very funny."
Kristen Baldwin at Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab), though, rates Paul T. Goldman a B-. She calls the series "an imaginative twist on the overworked true crime genre, but it eventually devolves into a Threat Level Midnight-style endeavor that lands somewhere between enabling and exploitation." Threat Level Midnight, for those who don't remember, is an episode of the U.S. version of The Office, and the title of Michael Scott's action movie where he plays Agent Michael Scarn.
Steve Greene of IndieWire (opens in new tab) points out an important facet of the series, writing "'Who is this for?' is often lobbed as a blanket criticism of a hard-to-describe work. The appeal of 'Paul T. Goldman' is realizing that question is the entire show’s reason for existing in the first place."
Outlook: Should you watch Paul T. Goldman?
If the above trailer isn't enough to get you excited for Paul T. Goldman, and my promises of a delightfully twisty-turny play on the true crime genre don't entice you? Well, I guess that's that.
But think about every time you've said "I'm bored, I want something new." Every time you've just decide to watch your favorite comfort food TV show again (I get it, I love Community). And think about giving a half an hour (or even a fraction of that) to trying out Paul T. Goodman. It's delightfully bizarre, and truly unique.
You've never seen anything like it.
Paul T. Goldman airs new episodes every Sunday on Peacock. The first four episodes are up, and two more are coming to finish this six-episode season.