The Truman Show
Curriculum Guide by Laurel Clark and Laura Cook
This film is the (fictitious) story of a thirty-year-old man whose entire life has been
broadcast to a global audience as a TV show. As Truman catches on to the made-fortelevision nature of his entire world, the film addresses issues surrounding the production
of “reality TV” and advertising, responsibility and ethics, and the construction and
perception of reality itself.
The Truman Show (1998)
Rated PG by the MPAA
Contains some adult language but no sexual situations or violence.
! Getting students to critically think about media
The Truman Show can be “read” for symbolism and social meanings not
just as entertainment. Further, from the story of “The Truman Show,” the
class should begin to grasp that even “real” broadcasts (including live
shows, news programs, reality TV, etc) are produced and controlled for
the viewers’ consumption.
! Asking students to question the appeal of reality media
This goal entails also highlighting the many different ways that reality is
constructed (by media, institutions, individuals, ideals) and the various
ways that various people approach their reality(-ies). The allure and
recent success of reality television shows can then be debated. Is this
something we watch for comfort (empathy/sympathy)? To feel like we as
people have (more) control (over circumstances, outcomes)? As a way of
having company (companionship, validation, “yeah, that’s the way it is!”)
For its voyeuristic appeal? [NB: This is often the easiest and most popular
critical response. How might the class tie this observation in with talk
shows like Springer, etc? How, however, has this “voyeurism” always
been part of human society from the Romans’ Coliseum to public
! Examining, as a class, various advertising methods/strategies
Students should be able to recognize product placement advertising itself
and, further, to identify...