Review: Truth Be Told 1×1 (US: NBC)

In the US: Fridays, 8.30/7.30c, NBC
In the UK: Not yet acquired

We recently discussed Buckley’s ‘All producers live in Islington’ Hypothesis, which suggests that TV producers don’t actually watch TV shows. They may have heard of them, but they don’t watch them.

The latest piece of proof for this hypothesis – we’re dangerously close to calling it a theory now – is Truth Be Told. To show you how weak from the outset the whole idea for the show is, I’ll tell you that the working title for the show was People Are Talking. That’s not a proper name for a TV show – that’s a name for a reality show mockumentary.

Anyway, it’s fair to say that despite allegedly being based on the life of show producer and general death knell for quality and humour, DJ Nash (Hank, Accidentally On Purpose, Til Death, Traffic Light, Bent, Up All Night, Guys With Kids– is there a producer with a worse track record?), whose last sitcom, Growing Up Fisher, was also allegedly semi-autobiographical, Truth Be Told is basically the result of someone having heard about Black-ish and deciding to do their own version. Except badly.

It stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Raising the Bar, Franklin and Bash, but mainly Saved By The Bell) as a professor of ethics. Yes, Mark-Paul Gosselaar. As a professor of ethics.

Seeing any problems yet? At the very least with the US education system?

Well, stick with me anyway. Gosselaar’s married to Filipina Vanessa Lachey (Dads), while his best friend and neighbour Tone Bell (Bad Judge) is a black standup comic newly married to Bresha Webb (ER, Grey’s Anatomy). Ooh, how diverse.

So guess what. They’re going to talk about modern ethical dilemmas to do with race, sex, gender, politics and more. You know, the things that people can’t talk about in real life, but which a daring modern sitcom can. You know, one like Black-ish.

Oh yes.

So what’s Truth Be Told going to go with? Well – prepare yourself for the controversy – it’s going to talk about whether it’s racist for someone to assume a car driver is white because he has a Jonathan Meyer CD in his car. Or whether it’s okay to ask the hot babysitter whether she’s done porn. How about whether you should hide the fact you have tickets to the Adult Film Awards from your wife or just tell her?

Typical modern day ethical dilemmas, hey? How could even the highly developed ethical mind of Professor Mark-Paul Gosselaar deal with these sort of issues, which we face every day but to which until now no one has developed adequate moral frameworks in response? Thank the gods for Truth Be Told, hey?

Alternatively, encase it in concrete, bury beneath the ocean floor and pray no one opens it for a thousand years. Or better still, never, in case future archaeologists think this is our equivalent of Aristotle.

  • GYAD

    That BLACK-ISH clip made me want to send money to Ann Coulter. Watching the TRUTH BE TOLD trailer made me want to nuke the Earth and salt the ashes.

  • JustStark

    I did like how even when they nailed the writers and the actors to chairs and made them say nice things about it, not one of them could bring themselves to claim it was funny.

    So they do still have some moral standards.

  • GYAD

    Yeah, I liked how the black guy desperately reminded us that his last film did really well so we'd know he wasn't always stuck with such dire material.

  • Give DJ Nash reckoned the show could “open a national conversation”, I'm not so sure about that

  • The Brit stuff was grating, as was the acting, but it's still a show that has some actual insight and something to say. I gave up because it was too family sitcom most of the time and Anthony Anderson is just horrible for words, but it does have some good writing and I admire it when it's not doing family sitcom:

  • JustStark

    DJ Nash reckoned the show could “open a national conversation”

    I still think that is orders of magnitude more likely than it causing anyone to so much as chuckle.

  • True, or at least a national conversation about “Why did this TV show ever get made?”

  • GYAD

    Yeah, America's nonchalance about the IRA is still awful. Although I suppose in fairness to them, we're equally cartoonish about their involvement in the War on Terror.

    Not really sure about the “controversy” over saying “n*gger”. The exact same 'debate' took place in the 1970s and I'm sure it'll still be happening 20 years from now. That's the problem with American race relations; it's always on repeat.

    Indeed, it's funny how the recent Anthony Mackie/Trump brouhaha matches up to the clip you posted…

  • JustStark

    America's nonchalance about the IRA is still awful

    Oh, that barely even registered for me; but then I've seen Give My Head Peace.

  • Pingback: The Medium is Not Enough TV blog()