My Brilliant Career

Life-swapping your way into a new reality

Alex doesn't pursue his Faking It career as a tough guy, but he doesn't revert to type either. The experience of forced reinvention gives him the impetus to totally change his life. He is filmed cavorting with drag queen friends in his new hometown—Sydney, Australia. It's as though the trials of impersonating a totally new character revealed what a sham his "real self" was. "When I saw the show, I looked at myself and thought, 'Who the hell is that?' " he says in the recap. Faking It ultimately suggests something both inspirational and unsettling: that we lack any essential character, our personalities and life paths merely by-products of the opportunities presented to us.

Two images of journalism are competing for the hearts and minds of the public these days. There's the huckster, currently represented by Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair, and then the martyr, embodied by Daniel Pearl and Michael Kelly. Trio's odd documenatary Journalists: Killed in the Line of Duty seems like an exercise in damage control, an attempt to shore up the profession's reputation by focusing on a handful of the 46 journalists who died around the world between the seemingly random period of January 2002 and April 2003—"men and women whose dedication we will not soon forget," intones CNN's Anderson Cooper.

Will the real Chris Sweeney please stand up
photo: Channel 4
Will the real Chris Sweeney please stand up


Faking It Changed My Life
Sunday at 8:00 p.m. on BBC America

Faking It
Sundays at 8:00 p.m. on BBC America starting November 23

Journalists: Killed in the Line of Duty
Tuesday, November 25 at 9:00 p.m on Trio

Narrated by familiar voices like Cronkite and Rather, Journalists: Killed offers reconstructions of familiar stories such as Pearl's without adding much fresh news value. It comes into its own with the story of lesser-known figures such as Tim Lopes, a reporter for Brazilian TV who ventured into Rio's most savage slums where few other reporters dared, filming child prostitution and drug lords, and getting himself killed in the process. The hour-long program suffers from a lack of focus: The profile of the late Filipino newsman Edgar Damalerio mentions a staggering statistic—that 133 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 1986, with none of the murderers jailed—yet doesn't follow the story in any satisfying depth. Instead, it lingers over the recent demise of NBC anchor David Bloom, who died while covering the Iraq war—not from enemy fire, but from an embolism. Isn't that the kind of journalistic fuzziness that gave reporters a bad name in the first place?

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