Hey there, fellow Earth-dwellers! You remember The Truman Show, right? You know, the one where Jim Carrey plays the unwitting star of a reality TV show about his everyday life, living in a city populated by actors who watch his every move. I recently re-watched this modern classic and thoroughly enjoyed it. Except for two things.
One is the way Truman discovers the truth about his life: to paraphrase the Wikipedia article, a bunch of random parts of the set start falling apart for no particular reason, and eventually Truman gets the message. I have trouble imagining how they kept up the charade for 30 years!
The other is the absence of human drama. Since every single person in Truman’s life is fake, there’s no genuine conflict between him and anyone else. Wouldn’t it be nice to see at least one person in Truman’s life have some actual feelings for him?
I could go on with an overwrought literary analysis…but nobody wants that, so instead I came up with my own version of the movie. And now, without further ado, here’s a quick synopsis of The Truman Show—if I wrote it!
My version of the movie starts with Truman blowing out the candles at his 30th birthday party and a brief introduction of all the people in his life. Their faces are smiling, but in truth the cast is worried. After 30 years on the air, Truman has settled into that phase of life where things slow down and each day is pretty much the same as the last. Viewership is shrinking to new lows day after day.
Truman’s uncle: “Welcome to your thirties, kiddo. It’s all downhill from here!”
Recognizing that the show is in danger of being canceled, the producer pulls a gambit to boost ratings—he decides to tempt Truman to cheat on his wife, Meryl. Meryl (who truly loves him in my version) hates the idea with a passion, but her contract forbids her from stopping the story arc from going forward.
Producer: “You don’t have a say in the matter. You’re an actor, not a writer!”
A pretty young associate, Vivien, is introduced into Truman’s company and he is assigned to be her mentor. The two are tasked with landing an important account and forced to work long hours together in order to get the job done. Meanwhile, Meryl’s marching orders are to complain about Truman’s long work hours, act distant toward him, and withhold sex.
Meryl: “I made up the couch for you…I hope it’s comfy.”
Unsurprisingly, Truman’s marriage hits the rocks while his (still platonic) relationship with new girl Vivien begins to deepen. Vivien, of course, takes every opportunity to remind Truman just how young, attractive, and single she is. Despite her advances, Truman remains faithful to Meryl; as proud as she is of his loyalty, she remains terribly upset by the story arc.
Vivien: “Truman, how do you like my new dress? Do you think the neckline is too low?”
After several weeks of getting nowhere, the producer decides to force the issue with Vivien. On one hand he forces Meryl to pick a fight with Truman over his desire to take a vacation over Christmas, further estranging the two. On the other, he has Truman’s boss orders Truman and Vivien to pull an all-nighter in order to have a big presentation ready by tomorrow morning.
During their all-nighter, the cooling conveniently goes out, and both of them remove various articles of clothing to beat the heat, allowing Vivien to show a bit more skin than usual. She does cartoonishly outrageous things to tempt Truman (who has been sex-starved for over a month), eating fruit seductively and bringing up past sexual experiences, but to no avail.
Vivien: “Speaking of slide transitions, have I ever told you about the time I got really drunk at a frat party and...”
As they finish the presentation, Vivien gives up on playing her role—she admits to Truman that she’s very attracted to him, and tries to force herself on him. After everything that has happened recently, Truman is tempted but ultimately refuses her advances. He reaffirms his love for his wife and tells Vivien that they can’t work together anymore after this presentation.
Truman: “You’re a really swell kid, but I love my wife, and she’s waiting for me to come home.”
Truman returns home to Meryl and tells her about Vivien, promising her that nothing happened between them. He even admits the terrible temptation he felt, saying that he would never lie to her. In the face of Truman’s utter honesty, Meryl breaks down in tears over the deception she’s been perpetrating against him for all these years, happy up to now just to live a white-picket fence life with the man she loves.
Truman: “I love you, Meryl, and I would never lie to you, no matter what.”
Satisfied by the booming ratings, the producer declares the story arc complete and has Vivien abruptly transferred out of town. However, when ratings begin to slide shortly after, he concocts another trial for Truman to endure. Meryl realizes that their lives will resemble a sitcom from now on, as they face one manufactured crisis after another. Unbeknownst to the movie audience, she decides that her loyalty is not to the show but to Truman, whom she now loves more than ever, and resolves to reveal the truth to him.
Producer: “Starting next week, we’ll have Truman adopt a runaway monkey!”
In order to keep from jeopardizing her earnings from the show, which are substantial, she surreptitiously sabotages various parts of the set in order to help Truman see the truth about the farce. She manages to do this without letting Truman or anyone else (or even the movie audience) realize her role. Just as in the theatrical version, Truman sees the cracks in the façade and escapes, stealing a boat that he sails to the end of the ocean.
In the theatrical version, the movie ends when Truman takes his final bow and leaves through the exit door. In my version, he exits to find Meryl waiting for him outside. He’s initially skeptical of her, believing her to be part of the sham, until she reveals the truth about what she did, saying that the one true thing in the whole farce was her love for him. The two reconcile and share a tearful embrace, deciding to live freely together. As they walk off into the sunset, Truman asks her what they’ll do to get by now, as everything he’s ever known is back in the fake town. She laughs and silences his concerns with the final line of the movie:
Meryl: “Do you have any idea how much I made playing this role for 30 years?”
Well, there you have it! A little more human drama, and an actual reason for the world falling apart around Truman’s ears. Who knows, maybe I’ll do another one of these sometime, if the muse so strikes. Thanks for reading, and if you’re hanging out for a minute, check out the rest of the website!