True Tori

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
True Tori TV Poster Image
Reality star handles mature marital problems on TV.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

While it shows some realistic moments of managing a family and a relationship in crisis, the fact that it's all playing out on TV offers an iffy message about the appropriateness of airing ones' personal business in the media.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tori Spelling is a devoted mom. Dean McDermott loves his kids, but admits to making bad choices during their marriage. Both agreed to discuss their private issues on a reality show. 


Occasional arguments break out between the couple, but these are uncomfortable, not violent.


Conversations about extramarital affairs, sexual addiction, and other mature topics as they relate to marriage and relationships. Images of dogs mating.  


Curses like "s--t" and "f--k" bleeped, with mouths sometimes blurred.


Spelling drives a Cadillac Escalade. Local LA area stores like Mood Fabrics and other establishments sometimes featured. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Dean McDermott is in treatment for alcoholism and addiction issues. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that True Tori is a reality series that chronicles Tori Spelling's efforts to deal with some well-publicized marital problems. The show covers lots of mature themes, including infidelity, alcoholism, and addiction. Words like "piss" are audible; curses are bleeped with mouths sometimes blurred. Older teens should be able to handle it, but the series really isn't geared towards kids.

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What's the story?

TRUE TORI is a docuseries that chronicles reality star Tori Spelling's efforts to cope with her troubled marriage. After a tabloid revealed that her husband of seven years, Dean McDermott, had an extramarital affair in Toronto, Spelling has been trying to figure out what to do about their relationship. Now raising their four small children alone while her husband seeks treatment for addiction and depression in a residential mental health facility, two cameras follow her for three weeks as she tries to get through each day while coming to terms with the fact that her life has been changed forever. When she's not caring for her children or dealing with the ever-present paparazzi, she tries to process her feelings about her husband, who is leaving treatment and is hoping to return home. It's a difficult time, but one that is forcing her to confront her problems head-on, and grow in the process.

Is it any good?

From frantically trying to get the kids ready for school in the morning, to seeking the support of her friends during difficult moments, the series offers an honest portrayal of what it is like for a wife to come to terms with the fact that her once-happy family life is in crisis. But Tori Spelling's decision to feature this difficult time in her life on a TV show creates a situation feels as exploitative as the tabloids she complains about. 

Reality fans will appreciate the show's many voyeuristic scenes, including the couple's uncomfortable counseling sessions. But the constant presence of their children on camera, given the context of the show, is questionable. Fans may sympathize with Tori's plight, but ultimately, the show feels like a simple extension of the couple's other reality shows, only this time they are dealing with some very un-fairytale like problems. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the reasons people choose to appear on reality shows. Tori Spelling argues that sharing her story on TV is a way of empowering herself. Do you think there are other reasons? How is starring in a reality shows different from being featured in a tabloid? Is it appropriate to be sharing private things about her life in such a public way, even if it makes her feel better? 

  • What is the appeal of watching a reality show like this? Does it make you feel better or worse after watching?

TV details

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