Octavia Spencer in 'Truth Be Told'. Picture: Apple+ TV
Octavia Spencer in 'Truth Be Told'. Picture: Apple+ TV

'Truth Be Told', Octavia Spencer leaves no stone unturned in the whodunit

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Nov 14, 2021

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So I added AppleTV+ to my streaming options this week. As ridiculous as this may sound, I wanted something different to sink my teeth into.

And I found two choices. The first one was “The Oprah Conversation”, where the queen of talk show had a sit down with Will Smith to discuss his memoir, Will. When it comes to tell-alls, Oprah has the Midas touch.

Not going to lie though, I want to get my hands on the book now.

And then I stumbled onto the crime drama “Truth Be Told”, which is based on Kathleen Barber’s novel, “Are You Sleeping”, with Octavia Spencer, Kate Hudson and Mekhi Phifer as the leads.

The second season dropped recently.

Spencer is one of my favourite actresses. Like Viola Davis, Taraji P Henson and Regina King, her talent was recognised years after joining the industry.

It was her role in the period drama “The Help” that propelled her into the spotlight.

She bagged her first Oscar, and she also walked away with Golden Globe and Bafta Supporting Actress accolades too.

In an industry where skin colour makes it that much harder for actresses to make headway in Hollywood, being a big girl compounds the struggles.

And the genre or scope of a role is irrelevant. She plays every character with commendable conviction, including that of famous true-crime podcaster Poppy Parnell in “Truth Be Told”.

While season one saw her investigate the case of Warren Cave, a convicted killer of the father of identical twins, this time, it is personal.

The first episode kicked off with Poppy attending an exhibition of Micah Keith (Hudson), her childhood BFF and successful lifestyle guru who runs a Goop-esque empire called Shelter. But the joyous mood is short-lived after Micah’s husband Josh is found dead in his studio.

And as far as optics go, Poppy tries to shield Micah from seeing lifeless body next to a young man. But she is unable to.

In trying to be supportive, Poppy finds herself embroiled in the investigation. Micah needs answers. But Detective Aames (David Lyons), who is no fan of Poppy, especially when it comes to her interfering with the investigation, begrudgingly starts to heed her tips about there being so much more to the murders.

After agreeing to do a podcast about Josh’s murder, Poppy soon finds herself conflicted between staying impartial during the investigation and being a confidant and friend to Micah.

Octavia Spencer, and Kate Hudson in “Truth Be Told”. Picture: Apple+ TV

When it is personal, lines are bound to blur. And there’s always that risk of love blinding one to the truth, too.

Poppy is protective of Micah. Her loyalty is above reproach. She goes above and beyond when she gets Markus Killebrew (Phifer), a former detective and long-time friend, to agree to be Micah’s bodyguard.

The storytelling is layered. For Poppy, she has her plate full.

The investigation throws new light on certain situations involving her BFF. In between, she is trying to be the rock for her sisters as they grapple with the prospect of losing their dad Shreve (Ron Cephas Jones). And then there’s her failed marriage to Ingram Rhoades (Michael Beach).

The writers also plant a minefield of red herrings, with Micah growing suspicious of everyone. It leads to her assistant Ramon getting killed after a very public spat.

There are also some dodgy dealings at the Shelter, where blackmail and secrets continue to fester.

And Spencer is truly mesmerising in this role. While she comes across as tough as nails, there’s a vulnerability that she tries her best to conceal. Also, she has a knack for putting her loved ones first, even when she is going through the most.

That magnanimous quality makes her all the more likeable in this show.

If you enjoyed “The Sinner” and “Clickbait”, you will enjoy the nothing-is-as-it-seems whodunnit. I’m halfway through the season. I just hope that all the loose ends result in a satisfying ending.

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