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SYFY WIRE Jim Carrey

The Truman Show Nearly Ended with a Super-Meta Stinger

Good afternoon, good evening, and good night!

By Josh Weiss

There's no denying it: The Truman Show (airing on SYFY this week) has aged like a fine wine. Nearly three decades after its initial release, the film's satirization of our hunger for the paradoxical nature of "reality" entertainment feels more relevant than ever before, particularly in this age of Kardashians, Vanderpumps, Housewives, and true crime stories. Folks want a glimpse into the lives of other people, no matter how phony and staged that glimpse might be.

Beyond such prescient commentary on the state of modern media, The Truman Show also raises plenty of questions about the nature of life itself. How much of reality is actually in our control? Does free will exist? Are we simply puppets on a string, jerked around for the amusement of others? It's enough to elicit an existential crisis in anyone. The tragedy — and ultimate liberation — of Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey, in one of his finest onscreen performances) represents the human experience at its very core. We come into this world searching for meaning, and while that intangible fulfillment may vary, every human deserves to forge their own path.

The Truman Show handles its themes and message beautifully, never being too heavy-handed with any one element. But had director Peter Weir used an earlier draft of the Oscar-nominated screenplay by writer Andrew Niccol, a lot of that subtly would have been lost.

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The Truman Show Screenwriter Andrew Niccol Reveals Meta Alternate Ending

Celebrating the movie's 20th anniversary with the British Film Institute in 2018, Niccol revealed he went through about 16 drafts of the script, one of which followed Truman through the fabricated patch of sky and into the bowels of the literal bubble in which he was raised. "He went into his own souvenir store," Niccol said. "There were cardboard cut-outs of himself. It got even more warped in a strange way. He even jumped on a studio tour tram with the guy driving it giving the facts of his life that he didn’t know."

"There were just so many different ways you could go," he added. "The original was so much darker. Truman was seeing a prostitute. It was set in New York. It didn’t end where it ended."

As it stands, the theatrical conclusion is perfectly satisfying, with just the right amount of ambiguity. Truman gets his happy ending and the viewer gets to imagine what the character might find beyond the confines of the only world he's ever known.

Will he be able to adjust to the real world? Will his relationship with Sylvia (Natascha McElhone) last? How is he going to make a living now? Like the global audience within the world of The Truman Show, we're left wanting more, and that's very much the point. Truman has broken free and our insatiable appetite for "reality" voyeurism cannot follow him beyond the faux horizon.

The Truman Show airs on SYFY this Thursday (May 16) at 10:15 p.m. ET and Friday (May 17) at 12:03 p.m. ET. Click here for more scheduling info!

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