Screen: Lifetime

Sleeping Arrangements

Dean's insatiability, Jennie Garth, and other wooden nickels from last night's True Tori.

This week on True Tori, Tori and Dean wrote therapeutic letters to each other about their anger and theory. In practice, we all got a master class in engaging only with the parts of recovery that mean you're not responsible for your own actions, and none of the ones that require actual effort or negative consequences.

A lot of their counseling session felt real, familiar -- the careful speaking with "I" statements, the differing expectations -- but some of the familiar stuff also felt, if not rehearsed, then...I guess absorbed from self-help books and years of you're-okay cognitive "therapy" that conflates "you have the right to your feelings" with "you have the right to do nothing in your approach to your life." And a lot of other stuff got left in the editing bay; since when is Dean even trying to sleep in the same bed as Tori? Didn't they agree that he'd couch it up until she felt better about things?

Kind of a frustrating 42 minutes. Let's rank a few key things from least to most fake.

Dean's long pause after "or was it you got caught?"

He had nothing. And honestly, that's a little weird to me, never mind whether it's fake -- and if it were, I'd have expected some glib Promises Malibu "frankly it's both" non-answer; boyfriend's had months to rehearse his part here, so his flatfootedness at that question seems real. But like I said, it's weird. Months -- this didn't come up at all in your counseling at rehab? The self-loathing cycle is such a huge part of addictions' continuing holds; nobody broached that? Never mind "rehearsed," it doesn't seem to have occurred to him that there's a difference.

He could just be that much of a moron, but in this particular context, I don't think that's the explanation.

Jennie Garth's super-effusive greeting at the event

I'm in the middle of her memoir right now (ohhhh, you'll see) and based on that, her reaction to Tori felt genuine -- both the (probably chardonnay-based) repetition of how great Tori looked and the stroking of her hair. These two aren't everyday besties but I think they have a bond, and the idea that Jennie leaned on Tori to come to get her out of the house, and her head, for an hour or two is not insane under the circs.

Dean's feelings of emasculation

He tried to get honest about his feelings about getting career "traction" from Tori, and it opened a very interesting door that they didn't end up going through, because he mentioned that, but then he also talked about how he praises her and tells her she's pretty constantly, and she doesn't really do the same for him -- but of course the fact that he needs the second thing, and score-keeps on the second thing, is directly related to how he feels about the first thing, i.e., shitty. And her response is say that she's always telling him he's great, not really seeing that it doesn't work coming from her. Unless he has his own thing that she doesn't give him, nothing she as the giver says to him about how he could get things on his own has any value; it just makes things worse.

And then it's all coming from a woman who's lived her entire life with the understanding that everyone thinks Aaron gave her everything. If you ask me, this is half their problems -- that, and not realizing from the get that marriage is work -- but it's not dug into.

"I was pregnant for six years!"

I don't believe for one second that, off-camera, Tori hasn't said some variation on "if you wanted us to be two-a-day fuckin' eight years in, you should have had a GODDAMN VASECTOMY," and if she hasn't, she should, but her irritation there felt about right.

Dean feels less-than because Tori called his wing sauce "watery"

I kind of loved how that TRIED to be fake, and then failed when TORI cut her eyes at the camera and was like, "THIS you're making an issue of when the cameras record everything ELSE we're going through?" Dean was probably told to get his back up about some ball-busting something or other, but picked the least believable issue and got hung out to dry by his scene partner. Hee.

Tori's tears in the first therapy session

"I was old, not pretty enough, something" -- well, sure, this is the pain you'd expect her to feel. Landed a little reheated here.

The showdown about where the kids sleep

It just felt off, I don't know. Yes, it's a real problem for a lot of couples; yes, it's not cool of him to bitch at her about it in front of the kids...I just don't think it actually happens (when she's eating chocolate pudding in her all-white bed with Stella, I was like, this child has never even been in this room before). And when did Dean try to move back into their bed in the first place?

Pedis with friends

"I was thinking Tori needs a tattoo" to commemorate this period in her life? Really, Tori's friend -- is that what "you" were "just thinking"? I did chuckle at Tori's idea for getting an arrow and "WTF" next to the tat she already has of Dean's wedding vows, but that was an obvious producer prompt.

But not as obvious as...

"Why did you jeopardize everything?"

Wolf, my friend, you gotta rewrite those a little so it's not quiiiiite so blatantly a planted question. ..."Jeopardize." Come on. This is basic.

Dean's recovery

I don't think it's conscious, necessarily, but he defaults to "I was drinking and using drugs, man" as an excuse for this behavior, because he knows it works; Tori lets him off the hook for it before he can even say it, several times. I'm not saying he's not an addict and I'm not saying he's not sincerely trying to get better, but "the disease did it" is not a good look at this point in the process.

Dean's spasmodic physical reaction when he's asked if he felt bad before he got caught

First he feigns a headache, with Jim-Carrey-level rubber-facing; then he covers his face and sets his foot a-flipping. People do have physical reactions to confrontation, but Tori doesn't sell the "I don't trust that it's okay, at all" line very well, and Dr. Wexler doubles down on the as-iffiness with her monotone inquiry about whether Dean's going to hurt himself. What, it's your first day? He's covering his FACE. This is another fight I'm confident they've had before and the responses feel like the first rehearsal off-book.

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