Photo: Lifetime

Goodbye But Not Farewell

Dean heads to Canada (OR DOES HE?!) as True Tori wraps its regular episodes with an inverted bell curve of real and fake.

True Tori wrapped things up last night, sort of -- Dean went off to Canada, after several discussions of varying levels of artifice, and many of the real questions viewers had about the affair, the marriage, and whether we could believe anything we saw onscreen got punted to next week's reunion show.

I doubt we'll get any real answers then, either, but the final regular episode did have a few moments of (sometimes harsh) reality amidst the contrivance. Let's have a look at how they ranked, from least to most fake.

Liam doesn't want to do the photo shoot

Well, seriously. His mom's '70s-Prell-commercial wardrobe alone probably turned him off, but the entire family-photo-shoot concept is such a spectacularly ill-timed idea that it didn't seem possible to make it, or anything surrounding it, up.

Who doesn't talk about the issues in their marriage when they have friends over for dinner?

On the one hand, come on. On the other hand, the friends know what's up with both the relationship and the cameras, so it would have felt faker not to discuss it. Lord knows Jess's "…fuckin' Dean" face looked real. And…practiced. Heh.

Wolf's crying also felt genuine, although I get the feeling some backstory about his own dad got left on the cutting-room floor there.

Therapy: The Final Chapter

The session had a lot of ugly reality in it, from Dr. Wexler seeming truly taken aback that Dean is going to Canada (and truly disapproving of their not making that decision together) to Tori continuing to be unable to say what she means, to wit: she wants him to want to stay. Dean starts to assert that he "can give her what she wants," and Dr. Wexler notes his phrasing, and he doesn't get it: "Is that good?" Well, no, Dean; it isn't. She wants you to choose her, and to not hide behind the family finances driving the decision -- still not discussed in so many words, BTW -- and you can't wait to get out of there, go back to work, and not have to sit with your fuck-up 24/7 for a while.

That he doesn't get what it's really about and can't guess, and that Tori wants him to guess and refuses to use the exact words so that she can tell herself she didn't get what she needed because she didn't ask -- and not because she did ask, and he just can't give it to her -- is all real shit. That not once in this "journey" did anyone even hint that Dean's entire married life has cut his balls off, which is both the cause of and the solution to this problem, kind of, is insane, and Dr. Wexler should have gone straight to that and bit down on it. (And may have, but was told by the line producer not to bother.)

Tori snarks on Dean's pube tat

Apparently, Dean has a tattoo that reads "Tori's" right where the treasure trail meets the jungle. This is totally the kind of thing you let slip out when you just can't feign rising above it all anymore; Tori's tone when she adds, "And then months later…" speaks volumes.

Tori's friend gets upset that the cameras let Tori distance herself from the painful reality

The moment and the lines felt planned. The tears felt real.

This process has let Tori find her voice, you guys!

Yeah: no. First of all, we saw a few mask slips in the episode that show the Tori who's all about business and has calculated the angles well in advance. That she seldom allows that out with the cameras rolling is a shame, because 1) I think it goes to the root of the marriage and how it does or doesn't work and 2) it's a bit more interesting to me to see how a woman who's trying valiantly to brand herself in a homemaking-adjacent way, and apart from charges of nepotism, might Get It Handled. I think she has plenty of "voice"; it's just not convenient to this storyline. Again, it's too bad. And there's nothing wrong per se with the America's Sweetheart thing she's going for, but it can in fact co-exist with a results-oriented hard-ass. Women: we're complicated! Audiences: can deal with it!

Second of all, it just sounded scripted, and probably was, like in the pitch meeting.

The anniversi-date

The date itself smacked of story-editor notes; Tori's mention in the car of a therapist suggesting she check his phone and computer felt like an outside suggestion; and the discussion of their annual wedding-band anniversary tradition felt shoehorned in for the sake of letting people know it's something they do, or did.

"I can't go." "You have to go."

Someone -- a producer; Tori herself -- told Dean to say that he wanted to stay and fight for his family, in those words, so that Tori could hear what she needed to to not shut it down with him for good. Not only that, but the scene was a reshoot; for something she claimed to have wanted to hear, all along, that would be the difference-maker in whether she fought for the marriage, she's awfully tepid and matter-of-fact about how he has to go and deal with his career. Also, it's the day before he has to leave.

Completely contrived in every aspect, and not in a professional way, either. Weren't even trying.

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