Parents' Guide to

Paul T. Goldman

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Meta irony, mild iffy content in true crime mockumentary.

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Curious and compelling, this odd TV artifact spins a tale that's not quite what it seems, unlocking layers of meta irony that viewers may not know how to take. On the surface, this is Paul T. Goldman's story: zero to hero, a wronged man who discovered his grifter wife wasn't just fleecing him, she was at the center of a crime ring that spanned continents. Goldman's choice to play the part of himself in reenactments of the story is, of course, strange: He's no actor, as we're reminded during one scene in the first episode when he's repeatedly coached not to smile nervously during serious scenes. Viewers who know director Jason Woliner's most prominent work, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, may also rightly wonder: What's this prankish director doing with a supposedly true story?

The answer, of course, is that all is not as it seems, even in a story in which its hero literally says these words about his life story. Actors question the flow of events too, like in a scene in which the owner of a trailer park cheerfully reveals a tenant's name and other personal details to a strange man who simply walks in and asks. "I guess she doesn't care about protecting them," the actor muses, trying to find her motivation. "Whatever," she shrugs. Is Goldman, a man who followed up the publication of the book this series is adapted from, Duplicity, with The Paul T. Goldman Chronicles, a self-published odyssey in which Goldman gets into even more international crime hijinks, in on the joke? Would it help to know that Paul T. Goldman isn't even the real name of the author, or the man purporting to be him on this series? But finding the slippery fella at the center of this documentary-cum-mockumentary is one of its greatest pleasures, so we'll let you do that on your own.

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