Women Tell All is a battle fought by unresolved ghost. Like a Mississippi plantation held in a family for generations, left to rot by the 21st century, the grounds cry out with stories. Ghosts wander the old mansion, unable to transcend until the truth is told. Year by year, true accounts of actual events are condensed into fables, lessons, tales. Like a journalist more concerned with an agenda than the facts, history is diluted from family to family.
For that reason, the original purveyors of truth forego death, living as ghost until the whole story is heard. Unable to speak with human voice like before, they bang, appear cunningly, move objects to become visible…hoping to entice a critical mind into uncovering the truth.
This is similar to editing. It is the snake in the grass, waiting to strike Julie Andrews as she spins across the high-grass of the mountain top, ”the hills are alive, with the sound of music…”. With every limo exit comes a period of waiting, sometimes for months, anxiously for the first episode to air. For the first time, the contestant gets a glimpse into how their behavior was interpreted, manipulated or exaggerated. Permanent impressions are made, dreams are crushed, careers started by these characterizations.
I think the natural reaction is to feel victimized, left bewildered by “an edit” incompatible with the encouraging words told while filming. Friendships seemingly formed in the short months filming the show begin to crack and bend. Harsh words said privately in a one-on-one interview with a producer, make their way on screen. Words meant to be cathartic become a 2-sided dagger, blunted with time.
The difficult part of Women Tell All is that the women can only speak to the story told through editing. It is not always complete, accurate, or fair…but it is all the viewer’s know. This is why these episodes become so confrontational year after year. Contestants are frustrated with the truth being boiled down into a master crafted fable…often times at their expense. Contestants are pitted against each other like gladiators thrown into a ring, forced to defend themselves to preserve their integrity.
And so they bang, chime into arguments cunningly, try to move and manipulate events in and out of context. Some decide to cry and play the innocent victim. Some go on the offense with intimidating force. Some try to get air time meddling in events they only watched from their living room. Each contestant makes the trek from all corners of the country in order to be set free by the truth. Unfortunately…most return home as ghost.