I'm not going to lie, I do not want The Truman Show to be a TV series. I simply don't. Paramount is apparently trying to develop one, I think it's a bad idea, I don't imagine it's going to do the movie justice, and I have numerous concerns that I am sure aren't going to be addressed. I mean, yes, the idea of a man who doesn't know that his whole life is a contained reality tv show is attractive enough fodder for an interesting program, but it just doesn't sit right with me.
First off, I just want to say that I adore The Truman Show. It's my second favorite movie of all time, and it's one of the movies that inspired me to pursue filmmaking. Any time I watch it, I am awestruck by its elegance and quiet power. It starts off simple, but as it progresses it turns into a piece of social and pseudo-religious commentary, thanks to the performance of a lifetime by Jim Carrey. It's a miraculous movie, and my love for it will never die.
But I have this sneaking suspicion that a TV series based on the property will only rob the film of its power. One of the best things about the movie is the finality of its ending. When you watch the ending of The Truman Show, you get the feeling that you have experienced a full story, with a clear beginning, middle, and end, and even if you wonder what happens after Truman exits the world created for him, you get the sense that it ended in the right place. We witnessed Truman's incredible metamorphosis, and the ending of the film is almost like watching him spread his wings and burst from the cocoon.
Therein lies my main problem. TV is a tricky business. If your show doesn't garner adequate ratings, then guess what? You get cancelled. Imagine this: a TV series about a man who is unwittingly trapped in a 24/7 reality show that lasts two seasons and then is cancelled due to low ratings. It ends as unceremoniously as Firefly or Freaks and Geeks. No closure, no finality. That's it for everyone involved. Is that a fitting end to Truman Burbank's legacy?
Or let's say it does get good ratings. Let's say it goes on for five seasons and becomes a cultural staple. What will the story be? Will the plot stretch out for the whole series and end the same way the film did? Or will they pull an About A Boy and try to continue the story beyond the film's end? And if they do, what will come after? In my humble opinion, the best thing about the ending was that it was kind of up in the air. I didn't want to know what came next, because what I had just seen was so perfect. It seems like there are only two strategies here, and I'm not fond of the idea of trying to milk a two-hour story for multiple seasons with pointless filler, nor am I jazzed about the idea of trying to extend it beyond its logical end.
And furthermore, it's not an impossible hurdle, but where are you going to find another Jim Carrey? His performance in the 1998 classic was full of thoughtful nuance and his paranoia was so real it was actually heart-wrenching. And that final scene, where he's pounding on the wall? It's like he's giving a demonstration of how to rip the audience's heart out. It's just so Jimmy Stewart, and there aren't a lot of young actors like that now. So either they're going to pull a relative unknown or they're going to once again surprise us with a similar performance from an unexpected A-lister. And while that is an interesting thought, is it worth the risk that he might be underwhelming?
I don't know, I guess I'm playing a purist just a little bit. The Truman Show is one of my top three and I don't like the idea of someone messing with it. But maybe it will turn out well. Movies based on shows aren't always bad. I mean, look at Friday Night Lights, which happens to be my favorite show. Or look at Parenthood, or go back to the old school and look at M*A*S*H. And for that matter, About A Boy isn't half bad so far. Maybe, just maybe, if they get the exact right people on board, it could be good. For the sake of my childhood, I hope it is.