September 17, 2021 | LIFE | By Lucy DeLuca | Photo by Sierra Romero
Season one of “Truth Be Told” is an interesting take on what “truth” means in relation to justice. The season features a classic whodunit plot within the framework of a true crime podcast. Poppy Parnell (Octavia Spencer) hosts a popular podcast called “Reconsider” where she investigates criminal cases as they are happening. Nearly 20 years after the murder case that launched her career, new evidence comes to light suggesting that the wrong man may have been convicted.
Wracked with guilt that her journalism may have helped put the wrong person in prison for decades, Poppy begins to reinvestigate the case to find the true killer. While it isn’t exactly original, season one is at the very least interesting. The star-studded cast displays tremendous performances, and the drama features several sub-plots about the family of each main character that ultimately link together in a surprising and unexpected way. While it probably won’t become your new favorite show, it is worth watching if you like crime dramas.
Season two, which is currently airing a new episode each week on AppleTV+, is a different story. Set a few months after the finale of season one, the new season sees Poppy dealing with the fallout of the previous season’s case. At first, Poppy is taking a break from her podcast until she can find the right story to tell next. Predictably, the next story finds her, and Poppy is investigating another crime before the season premier’s end.
Kate Hudson is introduced as Poppy’s childhood friend Micah Keith. While Poppy originally met Micah as a homeless teenager, she is now mysteriously rich and successful. Micah now runs a company called Shelter which is supposedly aimed at helping the less fortunate.
However, just what Shelter does and how it generates so much money while “helping people” is never actually discussed. All the scenes involving Shelter have an eerie quality, and the blind trust of Micah’s “fans” is almost cult-like. Even Poppy seems uncomfortable around Micah’s “team.”
Partway through the season two premier, Micah’s husband is found dead along with another man. At first glance, it appears as if the two men were having an affair. The police are quick to rule the case as a murder suicide, but Poppy disagrees and begs viewers to “reconsider” on her podcast. In an incredibly predictable “twist,” Kate Hudson’s character introduces a new case for Poppy to obsess about.
The new case, as well as Kate Hudson’s place in it, seems only half thought out. Everyone is a suspect, including Micah’s assistant, Shelter’s board of directors, and Micah herself. The details of the case are unnecessarily confusing, and the show stops making sense. While the viewer isn’t supposed to know everything in a crime drama (if they did there would be no mystery), it is important that they understand the basic plot of the show. Season two of “Truth Be Told” doesn’t seem to grasp that concept.
To make things worse, season two makes a strong effort to connect back to season one, for no particular reason other than to remind viewers that, once upon a time, the show was actually good. Poppy’s past transgressions come back to haunt her in the form of a lawsuit that threatens the financial stability of her and her husband. It is unclear what showrunner Nichelle Tramble Spellman felt the lawsuit contributed to the overall narrative of the season.
While it has a compelling premise and a tremendously talented cast, season two of “Truth Be Told” ultimately misses the mark. Some things are better left as good enough, and “Truth Be Told” is one of them.
“Truth Be Told” is currently streaming on AppleTV+.