Photo: Lifetime

True Tor-emix

Tori Spelling runs the season through the spin cycle; Sarah sifts the "unseen footage" for something real.

The average "unseen footage" special is a waste of time. The footage in question wasn't aired for a reason -- it's boring, usually, or there's a bunch of brand names in the shot -- and any worthwhile additional scenes come with so much overpackaged intro and intrusive chyrons, they're seldom worth it.

True Tori's version is a bit different, though, because the entire premise of the show is that the viewer goes "behind the scenes" of Tori and Dean's marriage -- so on the one hand, how much behind a behind-the-scenes show can you go, but on the other hand, there's the idea that their marriage IS a series of scenes, as staged and blocked as any scripted story.

In other words, the story here, as usual, is not what we see, but why we see it...and why it's this footage, versus whatever stayed in the can, that we're expected to accept as genuine. This is one way to justify your consumption of True Tori, as I have done a dozen times since the premiere, on the grounds that it's a fascinating anthro-Heisenberg mirrored Mobius strip of the composite self.

Or you could just take a look at the realest moments from the unseen-footage special, which unlike most of its brethren seems to exist not only to maximize fan attention with a thin gruel of leftovers but also for Tori to spin the events of the show just weeks after it took place. Why didn't I rank all the segments from least to most contrived? Because most of it is contrived, cheerfully so. I'm more interested in the inadvertently revealing bits, and those will not take all day to list.

Well, probably. And no, the heroic effort to reassure us that Tori eats Just Like Us! with the fast-food tacos won't be making the list, because for fuck's sake.

Dean bails therapy

Tori's impatient "maybe he just fucked up and fucked someone else" is, I believe, the closest we're going to get to a home truth about the situation. I mean, I don't think he "just fucked up"; I think he's a narcissist, who in spite of that has some legitimate issues with where he stands as a voting member of that family, and "maybe this is just the one time he got caught" struck me as Tori sensing something even if she didn't have proof.

The point is, the percentages of "she's hurt" and "she's sick of his shit" probably aren't weighted quite as heavily towards the former as the show wants us to think.

Paul Newman's "filet mignon" quote

"Why would you go out for hamburger when you have filet mignon at home?" This is the kind of facile thing players like to say as though they thought of it, though it neglects to examine the idea that filet mignon every night is just like anything else every night: it's every night.

So, of course this is the sort of Zen bro-an Dean would come out with, but Tori's VO that those throwaway lines and "small details" are what you seize on during heartbreak is right on.

"I would have been killing authentic Dean"

...I mean: yes, more or less. "The real" Dean is that adolescent rationalizer who thinks luring out his inner child is the top priority, whether or not it conflicts with the needs of others. More on this later.

"I've lost my upper hand now"

Dean's homecoming made Tori feel a lot of feels, but that that one merited a mention in her VO is telling. And truthful.

Dean's crappy "apology" letter

AKA "Dr. Wexler's finest hour." Tori relates that, even on the night her father died, "you made it all about you and I wasn't allowed to grieve." Dr. Wexler notes that a lot of people try to connect with the grief of others by telling stories about themselves, but Tori needed Dean totally focused on her, and when he couldn't, she felt alone. The realest thing here is not Tori's defeated "it became so about him that I just...", which did feel true and like a familiar refrain between them; or that that's good insight from Dr. W that doesn't take sides. It's Dean's look of utter bafflement that it can't be even a little bit about him, sometimes.

Liam's over-it response to Tori's "happy tears"

That poor kid; he's obviously heard the "they're HAPPY tears!" nonsense hundreds of times. He also drones in a recite-your-times-threes way that he's not supposed to talk back to her when she's "sick." I mean, yikes.

Dr. W's over-it response to Dean's "classic denial of an addictive personality"

In yet another moment where Dean's like, "...What?" about doing Chopped Canada, because in his mind, he went to therapy and goes to meetings and triggers can't touch him, Dr. Wexler's like, but all addicts say that when it's not an active problem; it's not that easy.

She's nicer than I'd like, but I have to hope footage does exist of her calling him more extensively on his bullshitty co-opting of the parts of recovery that excuse "authentic Dean" from owning his hurtful, selfish behavior, and ignoring the boring, ugly, maintenance parts that let people who do the work string together a bunch of years sober. It's not easy; I hope he can do it; that's not the issue. But while there's major overlap between a guy who's "in his disease," not looking at root causes, and making bad choices/drowning them in Popov; and a guy who finds it difficult to delay his own gratification because he's fundamentally self-absorbed? They aren't synonymous. Talking the talk of the first thing lets Dean not think about the possibility that the second thing is the problem here.

And everybody in the room knows it but him, and I think Tori is pot-committed having had four kids with the guy, and has probably accepted that pushing him is pointless.

And again, good luck to everyone in the situation, but when Dr. Wexler says that "a marriage doesn't get fixed in three weeks," she's skating around the truth behind that, which is that some things don't get fixed ever.

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