There are no new TV shows for me to recommend this week. Instead, I have two movies ABOUT TV shows. This week we’re watching PLEASANTVILLE and THE TRUMAN SHOW, both from the great year of 1998. So, sit down and tune in for these two excellent “episodes”.
But if you’ve already seen these movies, check out Episode 20 and Episode 19.
PLEASANTVILLE – Dir. Gary Ross (1998)
Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon star as 1990s teenage siblings who couldn’t be any more different from one another. Maguire’s character, David, is only concerned with his academics and binge watching his favorite 1950s sitcom, Pleasantville. While his sister, Jennifer, is much too worried about boys and her popularity. But on one fateful night, a mysterious man appears at their door and magically transports them into the world of Pleasantville. This is a dream come true for David, but an absolute nightmare for Jennifer. That is, until she starts having some fun with their scary situation and begins to alter the reality they found themselves trapped in.
Normally these movies make me a nervous wreck. I hate watching people getting trapped in another dimension with no hope for escape. Thankfully, Pleasantville failed to live up to the tropes we’re accustomed to with this kind of movie. David and Jennifer learned to have fun given their situation and even make some progressive changes for the town. Of course, things go wrong and that’s where we get the meat of the plot. It’s comedy, fantasy, a love story, and a social commentary all wrapped into one incredibly fun and entertaining movie.
THE TRUMAN SHOW – Dir. Peter Weir (1998)
Now instead of finding himself trapped in a fictional TV show, Truman finds himself the main subject of a show created about him for everyone else’s entertainment. The Truman Show is a TV show about the life and adventures of one person, Truman. He knows nothing of the outside world and is ignorant to the fact that his entire reality is fabricated for an audience to enjoy. But one day things begin to clear up and he realizes that his life isn’t as normal and peaceful as he once believed. People try to help him learn the truth, but they’re continually stopped by Truman’s father, the creator of the TV show.
This is one of those movies that effectively explores the human spirit in an interesting and subtle way. We see what happens to a man who learns his entire reality is a lie, how he copes, and the extent he will go to learn the truth. While the entire world is watching, this one man is just trying to figure out what is real and what is fiction. This is one of Jim Carrey’s most iconic roles. He plays Truman heartbreakingly well and makes you genuinely care for the character. His entire life was robbed for the pleasure of others, but it’s hard to think about what would happen if he ever did find himself on the other side of the screen.