Friday, December 6, 2019

REVIEW: 'Truth Be Told' - Poppy Feels Guilt and Remorse Over How She Handled a Murder Case in the Press in 'Monster'

AppleTV+'s Truth Be Told - Episode 1.01 "Monster"

While reviewing an old case, Poppy comes face-to-face with the man she put away.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of AppleTV+'s Truth Be Told.

"Monster" was written by Nichelle Tramble Spellman and directed by Mikkel Nørgaard

A career in journalism may require its reporters and editors to remain objective observers in order to get to the truth in any story. That may be increasingly hard to do though. In the media world of 2019, everyone seems predisposed to viewing the world in a specific way as detailed by the news sources we choose to absorb every day. Every person is unique and has their own take on what may actually be going on in the world at any given moment in time. Plus, the public at large may demand clear and concise endings at all times. Ambiguity and complications may no longer be welcome. There are so many complex issues that make up a person's identity, understanding and perception. These are complicated subjects that should be given all the nuance necessary in order to inform the consumer as well as can be. However, that art may be lost because of the push for as much content as possible. Apple is susceptible to this way of thinking. It has had to push as much original content out as it could in the first month of operation as a streaming service. Even then, it still may not be enough to garner much attention. The first few shows have got middling reviews at best. It's hard to tell if Truth Be Told will reverse that trajectory or not. Right now, it's just clear that it has these big concepts on its mind. It aspires to dissect the ways in which people consume media and how that can be absolutely transformational for the people caught up in making the news. Octavia Spencer's Poppy is an awarded and celebrated journalist. And yet, she now doubts the underlying conclusion of her first series of articles. Two decades ago, her reporting eventually led to the conviction of 16-year-old Warren Cave for murder. She had decided that he was guilty. As such, she lined up the facts that supported her argument and chose to ignore those that didn't. In present day though, she can't abide by that same moral philosophy. When she is presented with new evidence, she has to reflect on why she made those choices in the past and if making up for them now will make much of a difference. Warren has spent more time in prison than in the outside world. His time behind bars has molded him into a completely different person. His mother wants to believe that he would never have become a white supremacist if he wasn't locked up. That was simply the deal he was willing to make in order to survive in this cruel and unforgiving environment. Poppy made a similar deal in welcoming the attention that her articles about this trial brought for her. They may not be truthful in the end though. She remains open to the possibility that Lanie's eyewitness testimony may have been coerced. This premiere doesn't present a clear case for overturning Warren's conviction. In fact, it presents a man who was creepy in his youth as well. He repeatedly broke into the Burhman residence. That was a part of his life. It may have come out of an obsession with the teenage daughters. It may have eventually driven him to murder. But now, Poppy may have sympathy for his case and guilt about the role she played in it all. She wants to examine this case and share her fears as well as her concerns with her podcast audience. That's the new format of media she delivers her content through. It may be a transformational case for her. It changed her career once. It may do so again. But it also comes at a time when she's already enduring so much with her family who may be concerned that she isn't doing enough to free the innocent men and women of color who are sitting behind bars. Those stories are just as powerful and showcase the corruption of the justice system. Warren's case simply holds personal significance for Poppy. It may lead to some form of redemption for her. Or it may only offer further devastation as she lingers over what she may actually want to achieve. This is a complicated world that may never comfortably give people the answers they desperately seek. And yet, that solace can be very welcoming from time to time too even if it may present as nothing more than a longshot.