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12 Movies like The Truman Show and Other Satirical Critiques of Freedom and The Media

movies like the truman show

The Truman Show explores one of the most interesting concepts put to screen. What happens when your whole reality is shattered, and your world crumbles before your eyes? It remains one of the most referenced movies till date, and this is why we’ve created a list of 12 movies like The Truman Show. This break to reality is the major driving point behind Truman’s experiences in this movie. Jim Carrey also gives one of his best performances as a man who slowly comes to these realizations.

Burbank is an unsuspecting star of a 24 hour reality show known as The Truman Show. It is set in a fictional town that has been staged all around his life, while using the attention this concept garners to promote and advertise products and sell advert slots, just like any other TV show. Similar to shows like Big Brother of today, except this time it’s unwillingly.

This movie is one which leaves viewers thinking intently about topics varying from privacy, surveillance and the limits and morality behind the entertainment we’re provided on our screens. If this thought provoking story is right up your alley, then here are 12 movies like The Truman Show.

List of Movies like The Truman Show

1. The Matrix (1999)

When you talk about movies that explore the feeling of escaping from a false reality, The Matrix is definitely first on the list. Released a little over a year after The Truman Show, The Matrix follows the story of Keanu Reeves’ Neo, a computer hacker who discovers that humans are trapped inside ‘The Matrix’, a simulation where humans are being used as an energy source outside of it.

The movie has been praised for its revolutionary use of fight techniques and a visual effect known as ‘bullet time’, where actions slow down while the camera goes through the scene in slow motion. Similar to movies like The Truman Show in terms of theme, The Matrix has been placed on many Greatest Films Lists.

2. Groundhog Day (1993)

Bill Murray plays TV weatherman Phil Connors in the movie Groundhog Day, who while covering the weather during Punxsutawney’s annual Groundhog Day celebration, gets trapped inside of a time loop. He has to relive the day of February 2nd until he finds a way to break out of the loop.

This movie is comparable in plot to movies like The Truman Show as you see a protagonist trying his best to break out of a false reality. It does take a less dark and sinister tone though, and is the kind of movie filled with funny and heartwarming scenes suitable for the whole family to watch.

3. Pleasantville (1998)

We are presented with another one of the films like The Truman Show in Pleasantville. Pleasantville follows two siblings who find themselves stuck in a 1950s TV show. This show is set in a small rural town, where all seems to be fine and dandy, but underneath the cracks begin to show as time goes on.

This movie was a commercial and critical success, and praised especially for its humor and twisting of well-tread tropes to serve as social commentary on the times in which they lived in. It has been compared to The Truman Show in reviews by Entertainment Weekly among others. It’s definitely a movie to watch if you really enjoyed The Truman Show.

Also Read: Movies like Sunshine

4. Network (1976)

Many satirical movies similar to The Truman Show, are fascinated with media and the power that the media holds over the populace. Network, which was released a couple decades before the former, also intently explores these same themes. It covers a fictional television network known as the Union Broadcasting System which has been trying to bounce back from low ratings.

Network was praised for its great acting performances across the board, by actors Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, William Holden, among others. It got a host of Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress at the 49th Academy Awards.This classic is definitely one to watch.

5. UHF (1989)

UHF is yet another satirical look into the world of television broadcasting, similar to movies like The Truman Show. The plot of this movie is centered on George Newman who takes over a small scale television station, and is able to turn its fortunes around, by making use of a number of off the wall ideas.

Despite underwhelming at the box office, UHF has since grown to become a cult classic, due to its hilarious writing and use of satire. This movie is filled with a talented cast, and if you’re looking for a movie to watch in your free time, this is the one for you.

6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Jim Carrey pops up on this list again in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where he plays Joel, a man who discovers that his girlfriend is going to crazy lengths to erase the memory of their relationship, and decides to retaliate by doing the same. The consequences are one which Joel begins to realize that he might not want at all.

The movie was a consensus critical success, similar to movies like The Truman Show, and was particularly praised for the unique directorial stance taken by Director Michael Gondry. It is a heartfelt and deep look at relationships and loss, one which will keep you invested and willing these individuals back into each other’s lives.

7. Being John Malkovich (1999)

Similar to movies like The Truman Show which open up the protagonist’s eyes to a new world, in Being John Malkovich, John Cusack’s Craig Schwartz is a filing clerk who discovers a portal into a whole new world. This world is the mind of actor John Malkovich, and with the help of accomplices, Craig uses this access to his benefit.

Being John Malkovich is one of the best movies from the late 90s, and has been praised for its wild concept, and not just that, but also for being able to execute this wild concept on the big screen, when most other films would miss on the landing. This movie ticks every box.

8. Vanilla Sky (2001)

Vanilla Sky is yet another mind bending in the same vein as films similar to The Truman Show, and follows the story of Tom Cruise’s David Aames, a young successful publisher whose life crumbles around him after getting into a car accident with a suicidal ex-girlfriend.

Vanilla Sky has been praised for its suspense and drama-filled plot, and especially for Tom Cruise’s performance as David Aames. It shows us how one can have everything they desire at one moment and lose it all in the next. There are lessons to be learnt all through this movie.

9. Memento (2000)

In Christopher Nolan’s Memento, we are taken for a rollercoaster ride through the mind of one man. Through a series of events and as he suffers from a rare form of memory loss, he sees the world as he knows it crumbling around him, just as in films like The Truman Show. This man is Leonard, played by Guy Pearce.

He loses his wife by way of a gruesome murder, and has to fight against his limitations to find out who his wife’s killer is. Scientists have recognized Memento as having one of the most realistic depictions of the disease known as anterograde amnesia, praising it for its realism.

10. EDtv (1999)

EDtv is another satirical look into the concept of TV, and especially reality TV shows, just as seen in movies like The Truman Show. The movie centers on a TV network known as True TV that shows audiences 24 hour coverage of an average person’s life. Due to the normal nature of Ed Pekurny’s life, they almost decide to scrap the show.

But relationship drama increases interest in the show and stops them from pulling the plug. This movie aims to examine and satirize the unnaturally voyeuristic tendency of reality television, which has in whatever way become quite normalized. It will prove to be a very fascinating watch should you decide to watch it.

11. Visoneers (2008)

Visoneers is a satirical sci-fi dark comedy directed by Jared Drake, set in a dystopian near-future, and touches on a lot of topics including freewill, free thought and corporate greed and monotony, some of these which can be found in films similar to The Truman Show.

The movie follows the story of the Jeffers Corporation and their agenda to drive out any inkling of independent thought, while disguising as a friendly corporation. The society is one in which bouts of depression are rife, as well as loneliness and stress, due to the values promoted by The Jeffers Corporation.

Also Read: Movies like Arrival

12. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

Nineteen Eighty-Four is based on George Orwell’s book of the same name which has proved time and time again to have been ahead of its time, and might ultimately be the biggest inspiration behind movies like The Truman Show, and other satirical looks at themes like freedom, freewill, surveillance and the media.

The plot centers on the life of Winston Smith, a low level civil servant living in a colonized London. Smith tries his best to retain his individualism, as the powers that be try to suppress everyone’s individual thinking in favor of a hive mind mentality that keeps those at the top still at the top.

Honorable Mentions

Here are a list of movies like The Truman Show that didn’t make it, which you can also check out:

  1. A Scanner Darkly (2006)
  2. Minority Report (2002)
  3. Equilibrium (2002)

When Lost aired over a decade ago, its successful narrative created a pop culture impact and changed the landscape of television. If you are a fan and want to watch shows like Lost then you can have a look at this list we made just for you.


The hugely successful television series Lost aired in 2004. The premise, as we know, deals with a group of people surviving a commercial passenger plane crash on a remote island. The show masterfully explores supernatural and sci-fi elements on this mysterious south Pacific island.

The use of cliffhangers at the end of each episode of Lost kept the viewers on the edge of their seats, desperately craving for the next episode to come. Even though it's a large ensemble cast, most of the characters receive a justifiable personal arch. Lost was inspired by the movie Castaway and became one of the most expensive pilots to be shot at the time! Lost continues to be appreciated for its originality in storytelling and dynamic character arcs. 

List of TV Shows Like Lost

  1. The Leftovers
  2. Manifest
  3. Lost Room
  4. Twin Peaks
  5. The Prisoners
  6. Battlestar Galactica
  7. The New People
  8. Flight 29 Down
  9. Fringe
  10. Alcatraz
  11. Under the Dome
  12. Dark

1. The Leftovers (2014)

IMDB ratings: 8.3/10

Cast: Carrie Coon, Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman and Margaret Qualley

Creator: Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta

The director of Lost, Damon Lindel also created a supernatural drama series called The Leftovers. The show begins 3 years after an unexplainable global event called ‘Sudden Departure’  where almost 2 per cent of the population, nearly 140 million people, disappear. The Leftovers isn't about WHY people are gone, it's about how the ones who remain dealt with their loss, people often try to comfort themselves with dreams, angels, gods, or even death.

The Leftovers will leave you with so many questions but beyond words, you have to feel it and savour its unanswered questions to find peace. The Leftovers is an incredible television series that starts incredibly well but loses its way by the series's end. I have to say though, Carrie Coon has brilliant moments in the end. The Leftovers is so weird, fragmented and nonsensical at times that it reminds me of Lost. If you are looking for shows like Lost, I recommend that you give The Leftovers a try.

2. Manifest  (2018) 

IMDB ratings: 7.1/10

Cast: Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas and J.R. Ramirez 

Creator: Jeff Rake

The Manifest is a supernatural drama show about a bunch of people who discover that they lost 5 years of their lives when they landed in New York after their aeroplane faced severe turbulence. All the people on the plane were presumed to be dead. Now, these people have to find a way to adjust themselves to a new life around their loved ones. Mild spoiler! They learn their loved ones and the rest of society is not as they left it.

I found that the show’s premise was very intriguing and the actors give a very convincing performance. The narrative details of the show, however, in my opinion, are a bit sloppy and inconsistent. The writers surely have room for improvement but their concept is incredibly thrilling. Every episode of Manifest keeps you on your toes. Manifest has completed 3 seasons up until now and continues to be on air. Manifest is a pretty good choice if you want to watch TV shows like Lost.

3. Lost Room (2006)

IMDB ratings: 8.1/10

Cast: Peter Krause, Julianna Margulies and Peter Jacobson

Creator: Christopher Leone, Laura Harkcom

This lesser-known show The Lost Room is an American Sci-fi television miniseries which only had 3 episodes of 90 mins each and no follow-up seasons. The show was based on a very unique idea where the room in question (known as the ‘Lost Room’) and the objects in the said room had supernatural powers. This strange room is set in a 1960s motel along the iconic U.S. Route 66.

One day the protagonist (Peter Krause) Joe Miller’s daughter disappears inside the room. Joe, with the help of objects present in the room, tries to find his daughter Anna (Elle Fanning). The story of Lost Room was intensely engaging. I found the direction and the actor’s performances to be absolutely brilliant. It baffles me that the creators did not return to make another short season within the same concept. If you have been searching for TV series like Lost then I can assure you that Lost Room will be worth a watch.

4. Twins Peaks (1990) 

IMDB ratings: 8.8/10

Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Mädchen Amick, Sherilyn Fenn and David Lynch

Creator: David Lynch

David Lynch, the well-known director of weird and captivating films such as Eraserhead and Blue Velvet created an iconic show called Twin Peaks. It is a hauntingly eccentric show about the investigation of the mysterious murder of a small-town homecoming queen named Laura Palmer. Believe me, as odd as the show may seem at first, you will grow to love it, after all, it is considered to be one of the best mystery shows ever created.

With the mysteries, the supernatural elements and the list of bizarre characters, Twin Peaks has it all. In my opinion, the cinematography of the show was truly ahead of its time. Kyle’s Dale Cooper was especially entertaining. Twin Peaks’ experimental formula of the satirical soap opera is extremely unsettling yet rewarding to watch, I must warn you, it’s not for the faint-hearted!  If you are in search of TV shows like Lost then Twin Peaks won’t disappoint you.

The Prisoners (1967)

IMDB ratings: 8.5/10

Cast: Patrick McGoohan, Angelo Muscat and Geroge Markstien

Creator: Patrick McGoohan

The Prisoner centres around an unnamed British agent (Patrick McGoohan) who tries to flee his country after abruptly quitting his high-ranking government job. He is abducted and held captive in a strange ‘sea-side’ village that is isolated from the rest of the world. This village is a highly secure and monitored place filled with weird technology. There are only 17 episodes to this late 60s show but it manages to bring up such surreal surprises, it's sure to leave a great impact on the viewer.

The Prisoner’s unique concept influenced many popular shows including Lost. The creators of Lost even cited the show. I was very impressed by how ahead of its time The Prisoners proves to be. If you want to watch more shows similar to Lost the Prisoners should definitely be on your list.

6. Battlestar Galactica (2004)

IMDB ratings: 8.7/10

Cast: Katee Sackhoff, Edward James Olmos and Tricia Helfer 

Creator: Glen A. Larson

The 2004 Battlestar Galactica is a reboot of the original 1978 miniseries of the same name. Do not be mistaken by the title, the show is not related to Star Trek.  Battlestar Galactica is set in the 7th millennium AD and follows Cylons, the robot enemy of humanity that resurfaces to destroy the 12 colonies of Mankind. Only a few survive and are able to escape on ships led by a powerful warship called Battlestar Galactica. Mankind struggles to fight the Cylons and work their own political agendas and disputes while finding their long-lost 13th colony Earth.

The show is a dark, intense and gritty socio-political commentary with EPIC cinematic value. The script is especially clever and as a huge fan of sci-fi shows, this show ticks the boxes in all the right categories. When the show was released, it blew the viewers and critics away. As far as an obsessive and gripping story goes, Battlestar Galactica is one of the most similar to shows like Lost. 

7. The New People (1969)

IMDB ratings: 7.3/10

Cast: David Moses, Zooey hall and Tiffany Boiling

Creator: Larry Gordon Aaron Spelling

The New People is an American Tv series that aired only for 1 season and is focused on a couple of college students who survive a plane crash. The incident takes place while they were returning from a trip to Southeast Asia, their plane crashes on an island in the south of the Pacific ocean. 

By now this show must already be sounding a lot like Lost to you, and it surely is. The remaining group of people discover an unusual truth about the island: there’s an above-ground unused nuclear test site filled with supplies for the survivors. If you want to see more plane survival stories like Lost then The New People should definitely be on your list.

8. Flight 29 Down (2005)

IMDB ratings: 7.2/10

Cast: Allen Alvarado, Halle Hirsh and Corbin Bleu

Creator:  Stan Rowgow D. J. MacHale

The show Flight 29 Down is a drama series about a group of pre-teens/teens who are stranded on a South Pacific island after their plane crashes in a tropical storm while they were flying from an eco-adventure camping trip in Palau. The show is in many ways a younger version of the Adult-centred show Lost but sans the supernatural elements. I’d say that the show draws inspiration from the show The New People.

Flight 29 Down uses the technique of a video diary as a plot device for the viewers to keep up with the story of these children. It was very engaging to watch young intelligent characters finding their way on the island. The first two seasons of the show are quite engaging but I seemed to lose interest in its 3rd and final season. Regardless, Flight 29 Down is a really good series to watch if you want to see TV shows like Lost.

9. Fringe (2008)

IMDB ratings: 8.4/10

Cast: Anna Torv, John Noble and Joshua Jackson

Creator: J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci

Fringe is a popular Sci-fi crime drama television series. It may seem like a standard procedural drama at first, but the show actually explores the parallel universe, alternate versions of people filled with crazy scientific experiments. I personally had a great time watching this show.

Fringe is actually inspired by shows like Lost, The X-files and The Twilight Zone. The 3 main characters of the show work with a special division called Fringe. There are so many brilliant twists and turns in Fringe that in my opinion, the show is at the top of its category. If you are searching for TV series like Lost, I strongly recommend you watch Fringe

10. Alcatraz (2012)

IMDB ratings: 6.9/10

Cast: Sarah Jones, George Garcia and Jonny Coyne 

Creator: Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt

This American fiction show is based on the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary built on Alcatraz island in San Francisco Bay. The prison is now closed but once kept some of the most dangerous criminals of America. The show takes the liberty to make a show around the conspiracies of the place.

In the interesting premise we see that under unknown circumstances, 256 inmates and 46 guards of the prison disappear without a trace. Later the disappeared ones start to appear one by one without ageing a day and resume their criminal activities with no realisation of disappearance. A special government unit is dedicated to finding and putting those criminals back in prison. If you are looking for mystery shows similar to Lost, try watching Alcatraz. 

11. Under the Dome (2013)

IMDB ratings: 6.5/10

Cast: Alexander Koch and Rachelle Lefevre

Creator: Stephen King

Based on a novel written by the sci-fi legend Stephen King, Under the Dome tells the story of the residents of the fictional small town called Chester's Mill, when a huge, transparent and indestructible dome suddenly cuts them off from the rest of the world.

Now the trapped residents try to find a way to discover the truth, origin and purpose of these domes. This journey forces them into situations where they learn more about each other than they ever knew. Under the Dome may not be on the top of this list but it’s quite a decent watch if you’re looking for mystery shows similar to Lost

12. Dark (2017)

IMDB ratings: 8.7/10

Cast: Louis Hofmann, Lisa Vicari and Gina Stiebitz

Creator: Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese

The German-language Netflix series Dark is an interesting blend of Science fiction and Mystery. Truly a compelling and mind-bending story to watch. At the beginning of Dark, many children suspiciously start disappearing in the German town of Winden. The dark past of generational mysteries of 4 families living in the town namely, Kahnwald, Nielsen, Doppler, and Tiedemann is brought to light.

After the discovery of a wormhole, the lives of the families intertwine more than one can imagine. I believe every element of the show is top-notch, especially Dark’s cinematography, which is a TRUE masterpiece. If you are looking for TV series similar to Lost then the intense and gripping story of Dark is sure to keep you engrossed.

Honourable Mentions

Here are a few TV shows like Lost that didn’t make the list, but you can check them out nonetheless: 

  1. Carnivale
  2. Yellowjackets
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. Black Mirror
  5. Flashforward
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