TV Review: ‘True Tori’

True Tori review on Lifetime

Having chosen to live so completely in the public eye, can Tori Spelling still muster an authentic emotion in front of the cameras, as opposed to looking like she’s performing in one of those old TV movies that became her trademark? It’s a legitimate question in this context but moot watching “True Tori,” Lifetime’s docu-series featuring Spelling as the wronged woman, seeking to recover after revelations about infidelity by her husband, Dean McDermott. The actress/reality star presents this exercise as an act of self-empowerment. Actually, it’s more like Rahm Emanuel’s line about never letting a good crisis go unexploited.

McDermott, as anyone who has walked past a newsstand must surely know, was exposed as having an affair with a 28-year-old woman in December, yielding all the expected “TORI BETRAYED”-type headlines, as if there were a sale somewhere on capital letters.

So what better place to hash out their marriage’s future (which, let’s not forget, includes several young kids) than on Lifetime, in episodes shot so close to air that there was no time to make them available in advance. (OWN employed the same approach on Lindsay Lohan’s show, which has the added bonus of shielding such fare from advance scrutiny by the cynical eyes of critics.)

“True Tori” picks up with Spelling about to go greet McDermott after several months of treatment, presenting the process of turning this into a reality program as if she had no choice at all – that given all the supposed untruths sprayed into the ether about her, a show in which she held the reins was the only logical response.

“Everyone told the story of my life, except me,” Spelling explains, after the money line, “I thought our fairy tale would last forever. And then in one moment, everything changed.”

Actually, “Lindsay” and “Tori” have quite a lot in common. The paparazzi are supporting players throughout, even snapping away as Spelling seeks to wipe vomit off her kid. The premieres are so filled with banality (shopping for fabric, BS-ing with her friends, who seem to have no lives of their own), one has to be pretty engaged going in to consider this fly-on-the-wall exposure worth the investment; and because of the limited turnaround time production-wise, the act breaks are inordinately awkward and empty.

If there’s a difference, it’s the way in which Spelling uses her children as props throughout – sprinkling the show with family pictures, or taking them to get their nails done.

Clearly, the intent is to humanize the star, but it requires a good deal of charity to conjure that response. Nor does it help that the show’s signature moment – when Tori and Dean discuss the affair, his addiction, her anger – is choppily rendered because the therapist remains anonymous, forcing the use of on-air script to approximate the mediator’s role.

Spelling is such ripe tabloid fodder it’s hard to blame Lifetime for snagging what amounts to low-hanging fruit. And Spelling is such a mass of contradictions – worrying about paparazzi photographing her crying, even as she tears up on camera – some will no doubt find her story compelling, overlooking “True Tori’s” flaws.

Besides, the series does appear to represent Spelling’s version of the truth – including her early assertion that nepotism played no role in establishing her career. The claim is questionable, but those glimpses into how she sees the world are as close to interesting as “True Tori” gets.

TV Review: 'True Tori'

(Series; Lifetime, Tue. April 22, 10 p.m.)


Produced by Studio Lambert and All3Media America.


Executive producers, Tori Spelling, Dean McDermott, Robert Sizemore, Greg Goldman, Eli Holzman, Stephen Lambert; co-executive producers, Erin Flinn, Noah Moskin; supervising producer, Karl Kimbrough. 60 MIN.


With: Tori Spelling

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  1. Robert says:

    three things lead me to believe the show is crap. Tori has massive amounts of make-up when she goes to bed and even after waking early for the kids, the scene with her evil Mother Candy and Tatum O’Neil (whose own reality show with her Dad was as fake as Tatum showing up to Hattie’s birthday party even though Tori never met her) and finally the flips back and forth from love to hate should have been acted out in better way considering both Tori and Dean call themselves actors. Candy should give her daughter some of her husbands money, as she apparently knows nothing about being one herself. Sad.

  2. Basak Ors Tuncak says:

    I am so impressed with the honesty, and the rawness of the “True Tori”.

    As I watched I understood my own struggles, my attachment to the “things” and “memories in clutters”, and how trying to sooth my pains and to hide or to win my children’ love by over- shopping, buying gifts for them. I sympathized and cried with Tori. I realize it was very difficult and painful to displayed these emotions and sometimes to go after Dean unfairly, I want to say to Tori and Dean wholeheartedly THANK YOU! I shared your pain, I learned from your therapy sessions, now I have a clear understanding why and how I become or am the way I am. Like trying to win everybody’s love, many times act like a child and talk with a baby voice so high trying to be cute and loved… All because I have a big empty hole that was never filled with love, and acceptance when every growing child needs to have the self loved , esteem and confidence.

    I am in awe of the show. Thank you all for sharing your difficulties with us. You helped so many people. I cannot express my appreciation enough. Good Luck and best wishes on moving forward and gaining back again your beautiful life. Forgiveness and helping each other become better with love, patience and humor. you can will do it. Love and Blessings to you. Wishing you two the best Holiday Season with your beautiful family.

  3. tina says:

    Isn’t this called Karma?

  4. anon says:

    Also unlike Lindsay, Tori is married with 4 kids. She is trying to put her family and herself back together. Lindsay seemed like she was just trying to put ger carreer back together, which I believe, was unsuccessful. I do understand that she may have gotten what she deserved but it still hurts and I feel bad for the kids more than anything else. My gut tells me Tori is not going any where and Dean will continue to sweet talk his way into the bedroom just so he can do it again. Let’s face it, this wasn’t his first time, it was just his first time getting caught. My two cents!

  5. Rosie says:

    It was reported that there is speculation that the entire show is made up. I really like Tori, but I don’t think she could act that broken up without it being true. My heart breaks for the entire Spelling-McDermott family. All I can say is if they are faking it for money or ratings, I’d be very disappointed in them no matter what their reasoning is behind it. Until it’s proven that this is fabricated, my thoughts and prayers are with Tori, Dean and their beautiful children.

  6. gina says:

    Well yet another faded star seeking some much needed attention..anything for the spotlight. Its hard not to compare the two two true tori and owns lindsay..both are washed up clearly..willing to sell there souls for money..both have complained about papparazi..but with each show. The cameras are already set up for both actresses wherever they maybe tori n dean can pay for their much needed vasectomy they once claimed they couldn’t afford and lindsay such a hot mess..the only people that now think these two are famouse are themselves..not fooling anyone. Toris kids will one day see her true tori show yeah way to go and lindsay your a chain smoking. Piece of trash..sober? Hardly just too drunk on ure fame u may have had

  7. heather says:

    Dean looks like he’s on more then alcohol. .. test him for other stuff…I work for a drug testing co. Just by the look of him u can tell he’s on something else!

  8. Lisa says:

    I don’t feel sorry for this woman – she was sleeping with Dean while he was married. Only difference was she didn’t make a show out of it for money.

  9. Salena says:

    Unlike Lindsay, you actually feel for Tori. I was really surprised how much I felt for her and her situation. This show is pretty raw.

    • Andrea says:

      But she had an affair with Mcdermott who was married to someone else so I think its safe to say what goes around comes around

  10. Nacanina says:

    All true. But unlike Lindsay at least Tori showed up for the cameras.

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