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A cable TV network called True TV has a problem. Ratings have slid into the dumps for two years. Network brass needs a gimmick, so Cynthia must come up with one. She decides to find somebody in San Francisco, put a camera in their face day in and day out, then stick that person on the air and wait for the ratings to soar. Meet Ed. An uninspiring, unambitious, unpretentious everyman. He's a 31-year-old East Texas transplant who works as a clerk at a video rental store. Watch Ed live. The audition is complete, the contract is signed and Ed lends his life to TV. His soul, however, is still up for grabs. Truman, in The Truman Show, didn't know he was on TV. Ed knows all too well. Camera crews dog his every step—at his job, in his bedroom, on his dates. He doesn't mind at first. After all, he really doesn't have much else to do in life. Then his brother's girlfriend, Shari, catches his eye and the cameras start to get a little pesky. They follow him as he woos her away and the two fall madly in love. Obviously, family problems are unavoidable. And when his real dad shows up after being AWOL for decades, things really heat up. Shari ends up leaving Ed. Fed up with never being allowed a single moment of privacy while under the watchful eye of Ed's millions of fans.
Positive Elements: Ultimately, EDtv reveals America's out-of-control lust for stardom. It shows exactly what would happen if someone's life were thrust—non-stop—into the public consciousness. And it's disastrous. Fame feeds upon itself and breeds fame. It's a sad reality that the movie drives home. Fifty or 100 years ago, people became famous for doing something special, or heroic or beautiful. Now people become famous for being in the right place at the right time. For having a certain "look." For doing nothing. This may give away part of the film's emotional hook, but Ed ultimately makes the "right" choice. The choice of real life and the love of his girl over the glitter of fame and money.
Sexual Content: A sizzling scene depicts Ed making out with Jill on a table in her apartment. She is clad in a negligée and the two have every intention of having sex. They don't, but only because Ed falls off the table and injures himself. Shari's breasts are exposed for a split-second in a fuzzy shot through a car window as she and Ed make out. A woman is shown at some length from the back clad only in a thong panty. Sexual innuendo abounds and not once does anyone question the appropriateness of casual sex. Among other things, jokes fly about being a good or bad "lay." A lengthy segment devoted to talk of erections and penile implants closes the film as Ed digs up dirt on the Network execs.
Drug and Alcohol Content: Beer and margaritas are consumed several times. Shari gets very drunk on one occasion trying to cover her emotional pain. Several instances of cigarette smoking.
Crude or Profane Language: About a dozen uses of the s-word taint the dialogue, along with nearly 50 other profanities. God and Jesus' names are also abused. Cynthia gives the finger to her boss with both hands as she calls him a "s---head."
Other Negative Elements:"Cozy" shots are shown several times of a gay couple at home watching the EDtv telecast.
Summary: EDtv is an odd combination of a cerebral response to society's obsession with stardom and a gutter-romp through voyeurism and sexual fantasy. It will seem to many families that director Ron Howard mixes in doses of sensuality, crude dialogue and tantalizing "near-sex" experiences to "keep 'em comin' back for more." Ultimately, EDtv is a reality check for those who adore anyone and anything put before them on a TV screen. Ironically, those very people are probably the ones who will adore anything and everything about this film.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Matthew McConaughey as Ed; Jenna Elfman as Ed's girlfriend Shari; Woody Harrelson as Ed's brother Ray; Sally Kirkland as Jeanette; Martin Landau as Ed's stepfather Al; Ellen DeGeneres as Cynthia; Rob Reiner as Whitaker; Dennis Hopper as Ed's biological father Hank; Elizabeth Hurley as Jill