TV Recap: Truth Be Told, Series Premiere

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Truth Be Told is a surprisingly honest about race for a mildly edgy show that airs at 8:30 on a Friday. In order to fully appreciate the show, you have to realize the show’s not trying to break any new ground. This isn’t All in the Family for the 21st Century. It’s simply a show about an awkward white guy who has no idea about how to address ethnic diversity in his life.

The premise of the show would work just as well as four, 5-minute sketches on Saturday Night Live. We meet the characters at a Chinese restaurant where Russell asks Mitch why every Chinese person who works at a Chinese restaurant has an accent when they can’t all possibly be from China. Even though most people wouldn’t admit that they have thought about it, Russell has a point. What is less justifiable is trying to prove the restaurant employee’s accent is fake.

The second time addressing diversity became an issue was when Mitch pointed out that their Orthodox Jewish neighbors have a lot of kids and they go out, so they must have an excellent babysitter. Angie doesn’t want to steal another family’s babysitter, but Mitch says it’s ok “Jew-to-Jew” because they don’t go out on Friday nights. Tracy takes offense to his “they,” but it was clear that he was only talking about the Goldmans specifically and not all Orthodox Jews in general. However, Tracy didn’t notice “Jew-to-Jew,” which is arguably more offensive in context, yet gets glossed over with Mitch’s rendition of “Hava Nagila” with made up lyrics.

The last race issue dealt with in the pilot was the fact that a white guy can’t use the N-word under any circumstances. It doesn’t matter if he is singing a Jay-Z song. Russell, who is black, repeatedly told Mitch this, but Mitch wanted to say the word for reasons that are never explored. The way the Truth Be Told addressed this topic was its most tone-deaf moment.

The premiere episode had two plots that served as excuses to make a half hour sitcom.

Russell (Tone Bell) and Angie (Bresha Webb) struggle with mild trust issues because Russell didn’t know Angie kept in touch with her ex-boyfriend, but that changes when the ex-boyfriend hooks them up with Jay-Z tickets and Russell finds out the man has a fiancé. Mitch (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and Tracy (Vanessa Lachey) spend their time looking for a baby sitter. When they find the perfect one, the couple finds out the babysitter does porn, which ruins their plans when the babysitter catches them watching her and leaves before they can get to the Jay-Z concert. Every mediocre sitcom finds itself doing a version of those plots at some point during its run. They don’t usually do those together in the first episode.

Truth Be Told shows potential, but would be better on HBO where the characters would be able to say what they were really thinking and not some PG version of it. If NBC is smart, they would move the show to a later time slot and let it break real ground.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Truth Be Told airs Friday nights on NBC.

Anglophile, Rockabilly, Pompadour lover, TV and Music Critic