The TV Set is an adult film, not adult in the pornographic or explicit sense (it’s quite tame in that area), but adult in the sense that the issues it deals with are ones that adults face on a daily basis. Ostensibly about the behind-the-scenes machinations of the television industry, at its core The TV Set is really about responsibility and compromise. For David Klein (David Duchovny), the writer/director of the fictional TV series within the film, as for many people, compromise and responsibility are indeterminably wedded. In other words, priorities change as artistic vision encounters real life.
Klein knows that his work is not genius and that it will probably be forgotten in a few short years, but that does not mean he doesn’t care about his creation. As he remarks at one point, “It’s not Shakespeare,” and after pausing for a moment to consider the obviousness and pretentiousness of this proclamation, he re-states, “It’s not The Sopranos.” And therein lies the real heartbreak: Klein has no illusions of grandeur; he merely wishes to be involved in a quality project that gives him a chance to share his story. Like Klein, Jake Kasdan (the writer/director of the film) knows he isn’t creating a masterpiece, but unlike his character he does manage to create a story that feels at once highly personal and universally appealing. While I can’t say if Kasdan realized his original vision, you can’t argue with the result: a funny, smart, realistic comedy that retains its integrity. It’s a realist Network, for an age in which we are no longer shocked by the programs we see on television, nor by the actions of those behind them.