Fix: Documentary With a Twist, Meta, Cringe
One man’s efforts to uncover the truth thrust him into a labyrinth of fraud, deception and criminality that transform him “from wimp to warrior.”
So, let me start by saying, it’s impossible to succinctly summarize this show, and to even attempt to do so is utter foolishness, not to mention a disservice to people (y’all) whom you’re (I’m) trying to convince to give it a watch.
Instead, I’ll just ask you a few questions:
Did you like The Rehearsal?
- If yes, please proceed to
gowatch Paul T. Goldman.
- If no, I mean, I’d still really appreciate if you’d try it out but, I get it, we’re all busy.
Did you like Borat Subsequent Moviefilm?
- You did? Awesome! So did I! You will LOVE this show.
- You didn’t? Well, while Jason Woliner directed both Borat 2 and Paul, they actually feel extreeeeemely different, so I think you should still give this a shot.
Are you a fan of a story where the lines between fiction and non-fiction are heavily blurred?
- If so, this is one of the best, most creative blurring of lines I’ve ever seen.
- If not, dang, live a little!
Does it help to convince you if I tell you this series was produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg?
- The only answer here is YES, those dudes are comedic geniuses.
Hopefully this exercise has led you to the conclusion that you need to check out this show, but if not, I have the rest of this post to continue to persuade you. And sure, okay, fine, here’s a teaser to what the Paul T. Goldman (at least initially) is about:
Paul Finkelman, real person, self-published a book called Duplicity, which he claims is based on the true story of his second wife’s secret life as the head of a prostitution ring. The “hero” of the book is Paul T. Goldman (fictionalized real person), who goes on to star in a series of action-thrillers that Finkleman wrote in which Goldman travels the globe on daring missions to shut down sex trafficking rings. The TV series is about the making of the adaptation of Duplicity (and the subsequent Paul T. Goldman Chronicles novellas) which star, you guessed it, Paul
T. Goldman Finkelman. Part documentary, part exposé, and let’s be honest, part The Room, Paul T. Goldman is a series unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Paul Finkelman/Goldman as himself
Paul is… a lot. He’s neurotic and awkward but also incredibly passionate about his story, and while it might seem from the outside that the show is making fun of him, the genius of it is that there are no cheap shots or easy jokes at his expense. However, the power of Jason Woliner’s directing takes Paul’s story in directions he clearly never expected (and sometimes actively resists).
Is Paul the good guy or the bad guy? By the end of the series, you’ll (maybe?!!) be able to draw your own conclusions.
Paul as himself and Frank Grillo as Dan Hardwick
So, one of the many joys of this series are the actors whom Woliner has cast to play the characters in the Paul T. Goldman Chronicles scenes. I’ll go ahead and spoil Frank Grillo, who plays a some kind of black ops/CIA/undercover dude who trains Paul to be a “badass,” but there are a TON of actors who will immediately make you ask yourself, “Where do I know him/her from?!”
Not only are these actors really committed to the Chronicles material, they’re also a blast to watch in the behind-the-scenes portion of the show, specifically when they’re engaging (okay, mostly listening) to Paul share his life story for the hundredth time or give them acting advice (incredible!).
Couch-Sharing Capability: Form Your Own
Prostitution Viewing Ring
Do yourself a favor and do NOT watch this alone. I can’t imagine the torture of having no one to turn to and shriek, “WHAT?!!” and “OMG?!!” and “[Spoiler redacted]?!!!,” not to mention the companionship that can be found in guffawing to an embarrassing and unbecoming degree. Plus, you’ll need someone to share theories with after each episode, because—in case it’s not obvious by now—this series isn’t quite what it seems.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Skip the Gold
You don’t need to take Paul T. Goldman so stone cold sober seriously, but you definitely want to be alert enough to catch the throwaway comments made behind the scenes, because some are just funny, but others weave a web of the bigger story that Woliner is exploring.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Gold, Man
Y’all! PLEASE tell me you will give this show a try, because right now I only know two people who have watched it, and one of them is already tired of talking about it with me. (The other is my husband Henri, who by California law has to listen to me at least half the time, or something like that.)
It’s wild, it’s bold, it’s morally ambiguous, and I loved every minute (even the cringe-y ones).