How The Truman Show is Relevant to Modern Day Life

To be honest, I rarely watch films. After a busy day of uni work, I can never be bothered to search for a film I might like, instead preferring to catch up on my favourite TV shows. However, when I had to self-isolate upon my return to London, I spent my time watching films and documentaries that had been recommended to me.

One film I watched was The Truman Show, about the life of Truman Burbanks. His life is broadcast worldwide 24/7, unbeknownst to him. The mechanisms that allow this broadcast to take place are simultaneously amazing and disturbing - there are 5,000 cameras watching his every move, and everyone in his life is an actor- from his wife to his best friend. If you haven’t seen it, put it to the top of your watch list, as it’s incredibly fascinating and thought provoking. After I watched it, I spent hours researching the different theories, looking up the easter eggs in the film, and texting all my friends asking them if they’d watched it so we could discuss. For a moment, I even considered the idea of my life being broadcast just like in the film. After all, how would I know if it was?

I wasn’t alone in my immediate interest to learn more about the symbolism of the show, and a quick Google search showed me several different theories. Some have seen it as a reference to religion, others a reference to classic coming of age stories. However, what I found the most interesting are the parallels to reality TV. Such parallels are even more interesting considering the fact that the show Big Brother was released a year after the film.

When watching the film, I felt rather confused as to why millions of people were interested in the life of someone they don’t even know. It’s not even a life that’s particularly interesting- he goes to work, comes home to his wife and sometimes goes out with his friends. However, millions of people (me included) watch reality TV shows- just look at the success of Love Island! We watch people we don’t know eat dinner, talk to their friends, fall in love and we love it. Why exactly we find this so interesting is a conversation for another time, but it’s definitely something to consider.

It’s also interesting to consider the way both the broadcast of Truman and reality TV in our modern era are portrayed as real, when they are often anything but. Truman’s life has been planned out since he was born- his wife was specifically chosen, all the interactions he has with others are scripted. Yet, to the viewers, all of his interactions are portrayed as chance interactions. In the world of reality TV, it’s exactly the same. The most dramatic fights- involving physical violence and instantly quotable insults- are often scripted, crafted by producers hungry for high ratings. There’s little difference between actors in a drama and people playing themselves on reality TV.

As mentioned, there are so many different interpretations of the film, and I’ve found it so interesting considering every theory. Having seen how thought provoking so many films can be, I’m definitely willing to break free from my Gossip Girl marathon every so often.