The Truman Show
THE Reality Show!
In 1992, MTV created a reality show where seven strangers were chosen to live together under one roof and have their entire lives taped, edited, and aired to the world. The show was called “The Real World”. This show would become incredibly popular and so would the idea of getting average people together in a mutual space to do a thing. From “Road Rules”, a show where strangers lived in an RV and did challenges, to “Survivor”, a show where strangers are brought together on an island to do challenges and eliminate each other, to “Big Brother”, with is a lot like “The Real World” except “The Real World” wasn’t a contest and “Big Brother” is.
But what if the people on “The Real World” didn’t know that they were being filmed? What if every single aspect of their world was manufactured? What if it was only one stranger? Imagine, if you will, a child, the product of an unwanted pregnancy, was adopted by a corporation and became the star of a TV show where the world watched him grow up since literal birth and he was none the wiser, living in a giant studio where every single person in his fictional hometown of Seahaven was an actor.
Welcome to The Truman Show, where the star in question is Truman Burbank, an insurance salesman who is completely unaware that his entire life is designed by the show’s Creator, Christof for the viewing pleasure of the entire world. It’s filmed live, without commercial breaks, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It took a lot of consideration to ensure the score I wanted to give this movie was the right one. This is a 9-point movie. Let’s break this down!
Originality: The idea of reality television was all the rage, even back in 1998, when The Truman Show was released. I considered giving the movie both points because I feel that “what if he doesn’t know it’s on a reality TV show” was a unique spin on a popular concept. However, it was, and still is, a popular concept so I had to take a point away from it.
Originality: 1 point
Characters: There are three groups of characters in this movie - The Cast, The Crew, and Truman himself. Everyone played their parts very well, with the cast trying to stay in character around Truman even as he was having his breakdown. If I had an award to give, it’d go to Laura Linney, who played “Hannah Gill”, the actress that played Meryl Burbank, Truman’s wife. Her performance was stellar when she played “Meryl” and also, as Truman felt he was going crazy, slipped into “Hannah” as she was calling out to producers and trying to direct extras.
Characters: 2 points
Story: On Day 10,909, The Truman Show is approaching its 30th year aka Truman’s 30th birthday. Leaving the house, a stage light falls into the street. This confuses Truman, but he carries on with his day.
On his way to work, Truman sees a homeless man that he recognizes as his father who, as far as Truman is aware, died in a boating accident in Truman’s young that led to his crippling fear of the water. This would lead Truman to become suspicious of everything in his world. He deviates from his typical routine noticing patterns in the otherwise mundane background of his life. The more he notices, the more he goes crazy.
You can only imagine how nuts you’d feel if you were discovering that your whole world, your entire life, was faked or staged.
Earlier, we get a flashback to Truman in high school where he meets an extra and falls in love. She’s later ushered off the show so that Truman can fall in love with Meryl without distraction. Truman never stopped thinking of her and he uses his desire to find her as motivation to overcome his fears, leave Seahaven, and find his true love.
The story hit all the points for me, showing, as Christof would say near the end of the movie, “We accept the reality of the world we’re presented.” This holds true in today’s modern world, as we see the results of people, raised under isolated ideas, who are forced to have their reality challenged and questioned every day. Truman is naive because everything in his world is designed for him with him in mind since Day 1. He’s been conditioned to live in those parameters.
Truman’s reactions to his world literally coming apart is spot on. You can’t help but give full credit for this one.
Story: 2 points
Ending: Truman has seemingly calmed down since his psychotic breakdown (caused by his inability to understand the anomalies he’s noticed over the last few days) and returned to his normal routine. Turns out, Truman uses the old “stuff my blankets to make it look like I'm under there as I actually escape” trick and sneaks out of his house. The town does a sweep looking for him, and eventually finds him out to sea, having pushed himself beyond his fears of the water.
Christof tried to use that fear of the water to coax Truman to turn around and head back home by creating a storm, increasing the conditions to the point that Truman’s life is actually at risk. Through sheer will and a bit of luck, Truman overcomes the storm and carries on until his boat sails into the wall of the studio.
Truman touches the wall that is supposed to be the sky at the horizon and follows it out to s set of stairs that lead to an exit. Before Truman leaves, Christof speaks to Truman directly for the first time, trying to convince Truman that he should stay in Seahaven because it’s all for him and it’s safer. Truman seems to think about it, only for a moment, before saying his “catchphrase” that he uses with his neighbors in the morning, “...and if I don’t see you, Good Afternoon, Good Evening, and Good Night” before walking out the door of the Seahaven studio forever.
Just another drama without the comedy of the rest of the movie. The movie is really funny, as you’d expect a Carrey movie in the 90s to be, but this ending hangs on to all the drama! Christof comes across as God, as he referred to himself as The Creator and this “come to Jesus” moment that Truman is having with his entire life was powerfully done.
You know that Truman doesn’t have an idea of what to expect outside his bubble, but you applaud his courage to face it anyway.
Ending: 2 points
Enjoyment: 2 points. It’s one of the best and if you like 90s Jim Carrey, this movie is a must-watch or re-watch. And it’s clean enough that you can share it with your kids without issue!