The real dating horror story behind Netflix’s latest rom-com

Is Netflix’s Good On Paper based on a true story? We take a look at what parts of the film really happened to Iliza Shlesinger.

Proceed with caution: some spoilers ahead

Realists of the world will be quick to tell you, “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” That’s exactly the message behind Netflix’s latest romantic-comedy, Good On Paper. And while it’s a refreshingly modern and funny take on the rom-com trope, the fact that a lot of it is based on real events is a worrying thought…

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What is Netflix’s Good On Paper about?

Andrea (Iliza Shlesinger) is a 30-something comedian who has always focused on her career. One day, she has a ‘chance encounter’ at an airport with Dennis (Ryan Hansen), a nerd with charm. The two become close and eventually start a relationship. On paper, Dennis is a great catch: an Ivy League education, a high-flying job and a house in Beverly Hills. 

But Andrea’s best friend Margot (Margaret Cho) has her suspicions about Mr Perfect, and Andrea soon starts to question her new boyfriend. It turns out that Dennis hasn’t been completely honest about who he is…

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Who stars in Netflix’s Good On Paper?

As well as starring in the lead role, Shlesinger is also the creator and writer of the movie (more on that in a minute…). Hansen plays Dennis and Cho is perfectly cast as straight-talking Margot. Rebecca Rittenhouse also stars as Andrea’s biggest frenemy, Serena, who ends up becoming an ally in this wild tale. 

Good On Paper: Iliza Shlesinger, Margaret Cho and Rebecca Rittenhouse

Is Netflix’s Good On Paper based on a true story?

OK, here’s where things get really juicy. Good On Paper is inspired by a lot of things that actually happened to Shlesinger and her ex who she met in 2015. In an interview with Variety, the star said: “Two thirds of that movie are true. Every single lie that [the character] Dennis Kelly tells in this movie, those are lies that I took from memory that were told to me. All of those lies happened.” This includes the ex saying that he studied at Yale, worked a hedge fun job, owned a house in Beverly Hills and had a lot of money. He also said that his mum had cancer. 

Shlesinger started to realise that something wasn’t quite right after three months of dating, when he was unable to pay for a party he’d insisted on throwing for her. But finding out that he hadn’t gone to Yale was when things really unravelled (her IRL mum made the call to the Yale registrar’s office, while her pal Margot does in the film). It also transpired that he was in $600,000 debt and his mum did not have cancer. As the truth became clearer, Shlesinger called him out on it over text. He admitted everything. 

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But what about that ending? While we won’t give away too many spoilers here, the film takes a twist when Andrea confronts Dennis – and she ends up being the one taken to court. But this is where it looks like Shlesinger got creative. In reality, she met him for drinks, which ended in her storming out. A few months later, he sent an angry email about a photo she posted on Instagram. The last Shlesinger heard about him was that he was getting married.

Watch the trailer for Netflix’s Good On Paper

Is Netflix’s Good On Paper worth the watch?

Well, who can’t resist unpicking a scam story? Even though it’s clear from the start that this guy is not to be trusted, it’s enjoyable (and at times a bit scary) watching Andrea and her hilarious friend Margot uncovering the truth. It’s being called a “rom-con” instead of a “rom-com”, which hits the nail on the head. 

The film also raises a conversation about the pressure women are under to date the ‘perfect guy’. “I think this is a pressure we put on women,” Shlesinger said in the same Variety interview. “It’s like you almost will yourself into liking them.”

When is Netflix’s Good On Paper out? 

It’s out on Netflix now – the perfect film to watch with flatmates on a lazy afternoon this weekend.

Images: Netflix

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