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.


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.