TV

Asher Keddie’s Fake breaks subscription and streaming records

"Highly bingeworthy."
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The new original series Fake starring Asher Keddie and David Wenham premiered on Paramount Plus on Thursday, July 4.

Proving to be highly successful, the streaming service announced that Fake had the biggest first-week launch of a local drama since Paramount Plus arrived in Australia.

Daniel Monaghan, SVP Content & Programming, said: “We are absolutely delighted by the number of viewers that have already binged all eight episodes of Fake on Paramount Plus. 

“This powerful new drama series has been brought to life by the outstanding performances from Asher Keddie and David Wenham, and the creative vision of Kindling Pictures has been embraced wholeheartedly by new and existing subscribers alike. It’s a thrilling watch and we couldn’t be prouder.”

The gripping eight-part series “explores love in a world of liars, cheats, fantasists and phonies” and is described as a “vital drama which goes deep inside the psychology of the victim of a love scam.”

There have been various questions revolving around the series even before it premiered, however, the question now on everyone’s tongue is… is Fake based on a true story? Keep reading to find out all we know about Fake.

What is Fake about?

The Australian drama follows Birdie Bell, a magazine features writer, as she meets and falls in love with successful grazier, Joe Burt, on a dating app. However, as their relationship progresses, Birdie comes to realise that her boyfriend isn’t who she thought he was…

However, Joe’s magnetic pull poses as a difficulty for Birdie as things begin to intensify…

Kindling Pictures producers Imogen Banks and Emelyne Palmer Keddie, as well as Keddie, who also co-produced the show, said: “Fake is an intimate and exhilarating exploration of the illusions life lays out for us, through both the lies we are told and the lies we tell ourselves.”

“We are incredibly proud to have collaborated on this thrilling, courageous and intensely relevant drama with this dream team of extraordinary creatives,” she continued.

“Through an intimate first-person perspective, creator and writer Anya Beyersdorf has crafted a compellingly experiential show that will resonate with anyone who has ever been lied to.”

Who stars in Fake?

As well as Keddie and Wenham, the cast also includes Heather Mitchell, Ming-Zhu Hii, Nicholas Brown, Louisa Mignone, Anne Charleston, Spencer McLaren, Janet Andrewartha, Greg Stone and Jack Sandle.

episode still of asher keddie and david wenham in fake
People are curious if Fake is based on a true story. (Credit: Paramount Plus/Sarah Enticknap)

Is Fake based on a true story?

Fake is based on a true story. The series is inspired by a memoir of the same name, written by Stephanie Wood. Wood’s book was released in 2019 and tells the story of a man, a scammer, who seduced and manipulated women.

The cover of the book reads: “A startling true story of love in a world of liars, cheats, narcissists, fantasists and phonies.” The memoir covers Wood’s experience of falling in love and falling for the lies of a serial fabulist.

The new drama series is “inspired” by Wood’s story and is brought to life by AWGIE award-winning screenwriter, Anya Beyersdorf, directors Emma Freeman, Jennifer Leacey and Taylor Ferguson, as well as producers Keddie, Banks and Palmer.

The Kindling Pictures producers said: “Stephanie Wood poses the question; what leads people to deny their instincts? This inquiry lies at the heart of Fake as we journey into the depths of our protagonist Birdie Bell’s psyche, and explore how the narratives instilled in us from childhood create fertile ground for deception to thrive.”

episode still of asher keddie in fake
“The Olinda pub is perfection, a wry facsimile of the country pub the real Joe claimed to frequent. (Credit: Paramount Plus/Sarah Enticknap) (Credit: Paramount Plus/Sarah Enticknap)

Following the release of the series, Stephanie Wood talked about her real-life experience in an edition of Good Weekend and uncovered how the series is based on her story. Wood revealed that her real story unfolded in NSW and her relationship with the real Joe ended in 2015.

“For years I’ve barely given a thought to the man who claimed to be a farmer and property developer, who led me to think he was a man of ­integrity and that we had a future together, but who turned out to be of no fixed address, morally and ­financially bankrupt, a man with a criminal conviction for a fraud-related offence in his past and another lover, maybe more than one,” she said.

After watching the show herself, Wood found herself very “removed” and felt as though it was “someone else’s story.”

“Already, in the weirdest of transmogrifications, if I think of my real story, Joe appears in my mind as David and it’s Asher in his arms, not me; this process, this big, crazy, star-studded thing, has further clouded my long-ago experience, laid down new layers of thought and memory like stratified sandstone,” she said.

You can shop Stephanie Wood’s book Fake here.

episode still of david wenham in fake, the paramount plus series based on a true story
Fake will premiere exclusively on Paramount Plus. (Credit: Paramount Plus/Sarah Enticknap)

What have people said about Fake?

A critic from TV Tonight has described Fake as “highly bingeworthy, if not addictive” and has gone as far as saying it is “the best thing Asher Keddie has done since Offspring.”

“In a world of scams, bad dates and ghosting Fake is a modern cautionary tale about trust and self-worth. It’s also a ripping yarn,” they continued.

A critic from the Sydney Morning Herald described the new series as “one of the best Australian dramas of the decade so far.”

Fake is an unflinching examination of deception’s cruel grip – whether it’s wielded by an imposter or delivered through our own flawed self-esteem,” they said.

Fake… is a brilliantly-acted, deeply unsettling, thoroughly uncomfortable watch,” a critic from The West Australian said.

“Both the leads are brilliant — they’re almost too good, in that I had my heart in my mouth for every moment of the two episodes I watched.”

episode still of asher keddie in fake, the paramount plus series based on a true story
Each episode is 40 minutes. (Credit: Paramount Plus/Sarah Enticknap)

Where was Fake filmed?

Fake was filed in Melbourne and other regional Victorian locations.

The production team spent several days in western Vicotria to shoot scenes at the historic mansion Langi Willi, Eldorado – a stand-in for a grand country property in the NSW Southern Highlands that the real Joe claimed to be buying and took Wood to see.

Where can I watch Fake?

Fake debuted on Paramount Plus on July 4, 2024.

Stream Fake on Paramount Plus from $9.99/mth, with a 7-day free trial.

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