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'Truth Be Told' review: New comedy tries to tackle modern issues

Tone Bell as Russell, left, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar

Tone Bell as Russell, left, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Mitch in "Truth Be Told." Credit: NBC / Colleen Hayes


WHEN | WHERE Premieres Friday, Oct. 16 at 8:30 p.m. on NBC/4

WHAT IT'S ABOUT This sitcom's truth-telling is said to be based on the life of series creator DJ Nash ("Growing Up Fisher"), his Asian-heritage wife and their black best friends. We'd assume those two couples have known each other more than 30 minutes, so they've likely discussed cultural stereotypes, racial epithets, "ethnically ambiguous" spouses, Orthodox Judaism, porn watching, ex-lover-texting, and a 4-year-old daughter's glee in the V word over some extended period of time.

Of course TV tends to telescope things. So all of these come up in this week's series pilot, right as we meet Mark-Paul Gosselaar, BFF Tone Bell and show wives Vanessa Lachey and Bresha Webb. With tickets to an imminent Jay Z concert, these next-door neighbors need a baby-sitter pronto. They get referred to a "hot" baby-sitter. Who does porn. (Maybe.) Panic mode!

MY SAY Ouch, says the nail hit on the head. "Truth Be Told" seems unaware of restraint. Or of resisting sitcomese writing and pacing. White-guy guilt runs rampant. Men turn brainless around a babe with boobs.

None of which is to say race, gender, etc. shouldn't be addressed. Since the 1970s' groundbreaker "All in the Family" (now a time-capsule hour nightly at 9 on Antenna TV), hot-button issues have been batted around in various genres, with varying results. Considering current events, now could be a great time to take another swing for the multicultural fences -- especially in the sitcom format that seems to make these topics less threatening to address.

But "Truth Be Told" doesn't let its issues come from the characters. The issues are the characters. Maybe future episodes will flesh out these people, but they initially serve as stick figures on which to hang "outspoken" opinions seeming not necessarily their own.

The series could take a few pointers from NBC's renewed summer entry "The Carmichael Show," which tackled similar "truths" with more sincerity and sharpness. And which may be back in the lineup before long if "Truth" tanks.



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