Photo: Lifetime

Star Maps

Dean makes Tori a map of key events in their marriage, but is nearly trampled by the elephant in the room in the latest (and less fake) True Tori.

The fourth installment of True Tori seemed less ersatz than last week's. Tori wants Dean to choose her, affirmatively; to read her mind, which is probably something he could never really do but the fog of first love (and not having four children to juggle) made it seem like he could; Dean is doing the classic, maddening "I'm not going to address the content because I object to the tone" thing where every bad or subpar thing he does, SHE ends up having to apologize, because it stems from him hating himself.

I've had these fights; we all have. The question here, as always, is whether these fights got reshot for a better take. Let's rank some of the scenes from realest to fakest.

The haircut fight

That felt genuine: Tori's yelling about something that's not really what she wants to yell about; she turns the argument into why HE'S raising her voice to HER; she feels undermined by his Fun Dad thing where he lets the kids do whatever and leaves being the bad guy to Mom; Dean's all "she's so controlling" and "I can't do anything right" and turns it into a low-self-esteem issue which, as usual, bulletproofs him against criticism or taking responsibility. Dean, sometimes you're SUPPOSED to feel a little bad about yourself so you don't keep making the same mistakes again. A kid doesn't need a whole day off from school to get a haircut (especially not that one; what was that '93 NASCAR shit?).

Fireside nurturing with Dean

Of course the cameras wouldn't be there "in real life," but that Dean thinks massage oil is "nurturing" -- and also misreads the bottle; it's actually lube -- feels like the kind of thing he'd do. And ties in with Dr. Wexler's gentle suggestion to Tori that one of the biggest "marital myths" is that one person can meet all your needs.

The genuine bafflement of "Why would you put lavender on your...personal parts?" is hilarious, is another thing.

Tori feels bad filming "when his life's at stake"

I don't believe either of these things. I don't believe she feels bad that she has cameras rolling when Dean is emotionally fragile and/or expressing that he might harm himself, and I don't believe that she believes that he might harm himself. The breakdown we didn't see, that I can't speak to, but I've said it before: he's likely learned, albeit unconsciously, that he can shut down criticism or difficult conversations where he just has to sit and listen to how he's made someone else feel bad by displaying similar physical manifestations of his discomfort. And Tori kind of can't push him to suck it up, or she looks like a witch.

The "...I mean?" look she cuts at the camera while Dr. Wexler is BS-ily asking if he can "come back" from his self-esteem spiral is classic. Then Tori accuses Dean of it's okay. He's acting, of course, just...not like that.


Feiki. Good for the therapist for getting her business in front of the cameras, but: come on.

Wolfie tells Dean to man up

I'll get more into this later, but the un-talked talking points here are that 1) Dean's ability to do this project on his own, to do anything sans the Spelling imprimatur, is what the marriage will stand or die on; and 2) someone's got to bring home some bacon. That Wolfie was obviously prepped for this "candid" call is one thing; that part of the prep was probably "don't talk about the only issues that really matter here, which are Dean's sense of self separate from Tori, and their household's bank balance," is another.

Dean makes a map of their love

Please arrange for the frame-store lady to receive some kind of honorary Emmy, for 1) managing not to burst out laughing, which she was a mild breeze away from doing during the entire scene and 2) her so-dry-it-smokes-in-the-shower query as to how Dean would like to "phrase" the markers for where he and Tori conceived their children.

Also: cute idea, producer who came up with it, but this is the same guy who thinks getting exotic pets is a great idea for a chaotic four-kids-under-age-7 household; see above re: Fun Dad. Find a "nurturing" gift that's more believable from this meathead, maybe.

The Chopped Canada argument(s)

Parts of that conversation -- her icy, flat "when'd they tell you that" in response to Dean's sharing that Chopped Canada got picked up again, for one -- felt real. She's trying to seem calm and NBD, not just about the idea of his going back to Toronto ("the scene of the crime," as he puts it) and ditching out on her and the kids for another ten weeks, but also that he's known for two days and didn't say anything.

But Tori must have known that decision was coming down, and I don't buy that she didn't know it already had. Was she maybe testing Dean to see how long it would take to tell her, so that he'd fail? Sure. Was she not wanting to tell him straight out, "You can't leave the family right now; I can't handle all this by myself," because she wanted him to choose the family/turn down the job affirmatively, without her having to ask? Almost definitely.

Should the fact, which looms over this entire proceeding and is never referred to directly, that they need the money just be mentioned outright already, by someone -- Dr. Wexler, Mehran, anyone? Absolutely.

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