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The hidden message that reveals the true meaning of the film

Jane Schoenbruns I saw the TV light up is about television. But like television, it is also about life. It is also a deeply strange film with a final act that will probably leave you at least a little confused (and maybe completely lost). Some have called the film’s ending grim and even cruel. But if you want to believe it, I saw the TV light upThe ending of is incredibly inspiring. So what does it mean? I saw the TV, Glow’s Ending means? We will do our best to explain a film that admittedly leaves room for interpretation.

Warning: Spoilers for the end of I saw the TV light up. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, we recommend you watch it first before reading this article. Still here? Dive in!

What is the plot of I saw the TV light up?

The A24 film, recently released on VOD, is about Owen (Justice Smith), a loner who found meaning in life through young adult tapes in high school. Buffy the Vampire Slayer –a similar show called The opaque pink. Owen’s parents don’t let him watch the series at home, but his schoolmate Maddy (Brigette Lundy-Paine) smuggles episodes recorded on VHS tapes to him. Over time, the two develop a close bond through their shared love of The opaque pink.

The film takes a turn when Maddy runs away from home. With his best friend gone, Owen leads a low-key life with his parents. He gets a job at the local cinema and gradually grows up. One day, while shopping, Owen sees Maddy again. They go to a bar, where Maddy reveals a theory about the world they live in. She believes their entire reality is nothing more than a construct created by The pink opaqueis the big villain, Mr. Melancholy, and that they are actually the protagonists of the show, Tara and Isabel. She came to this realization after she paid a man to bury her alive and managed to dig her way out.

An older Owen apologizes in the final moments I saw the TV light up.


Owen’s first reaction is to reject her, but that night he has a traumatic experience that suggests Maddy’s theory is correct. The scene is intercut with footage of Maddy watching him try on a dress. The next night, Maddy urges Owen to let himself be buried alive, like she was, so he can wake up as Isabel, just as she woke up as Tara. But this is all too much for Owen, and he runs home, never to see Maddy again.

Twenty years pass and Owen is now a middle-aged man living in his parents’ house with a family he loves more than anything but never sees. His monotonous life as a worker at a leisure center comes to a head when he suddenly screams during a child’s birthday party: “I’m dying! Help me!”

Owen retreats to the bathroom, where he reaches into his chest and finds only static on the television, which seems to prove Maddy right. In the final moments of the film, we see him coming out of the bathroom, apologizing to everyone he sees for his sudden outburst. The end.

I saw the TV light up End explained

“There is still time” is the only sentence that transforms the ending from a warning into a hopeful promise.


What does it all mean? At first glance, it seems like Owen is denying the truth that Maddy was right, but the act of looking within himself in the final moments of the film is an accomplishment.

There is a reason for this I saw the TV light upThe top Letterboxd review is a coming out post by a trans woman. Owen’s entire inner conflict is an allegory of the trans experience. Just as he denies his existence as a fictional character in an alternate reality, he also denies his existence as a woman.

There are some obvious clues to support this, such as the shots of Owen in the dress, but the film’s message is also more abstract. In one of the few clips from The pink opaquewe see Tara talking about a species of monster called the Drain Lords, saying, “They can’t hurt you if you don’t think about them.” When Maddy later confronts Owen about her discovery, she realizes that it’s hard to accept the truth. “I know it’s scary. That’s part of it,” she says. “It’s like the Drain Lords,” Owen replies. “Just like the Drain Lords. It’s not real if I don’t think about it.” That’s exactly what Owen has been doing up until his outburst: denying reality by not thinking about it.

The end of I saw the TV light up is the brutal reality of what happens when you choose not to believe something because you then have to face a hard truth. It’s a cautionary tale, but also one full of hope. After Maddy leaves for the last time, we see a message written in chalk on the street: “There’s still time.”

No matter how old you are, no matter how much time you think you’ve wasted, there’s still time to become your true self, however you define that. I saw the TV light up is not a film about a man who threw his life away because he was not ready for an adventure, but a film about someone who took his time before realizing that it was the adventure that was keeping him from happiness.

It’s a film that focuses entirely on the part of the hero’s journey where the call is rejected, but that doesn’t need to show the adventure, because just accepting the call is daunting enough. There is still time, there always will be time, but first you have to accept the truth.

I saw the TV light up is now available to rent and buy on VOD.

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