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Headscratchers: Pleasantville
  • Just how the hell will David explain to his real parents that they'll never see Jennifer ever again?
    • He may not have to. Note the ending — the whole events of David's time in the show take up just one hour of real time. So Jennifer could conceivably spend three years in college and then return with about a weekend passing in the real world. Now given Jennifer being who she is, would it really be so surprising for her to just vanish for a random weekend? Doubtful.
    • That explanation above is indeed Word Of God according to Gary Ross' DVD commentary (although he admitted he made up that explanation on the spot). 1 hour in real life = 1 week in Pleasantville. Three years of college works out to be about 6 days.
    • Made up on the spot or not, it makes perfect sense. Most shows are 1 hour long and run once a week.
      • This is actually backed up by the movie itself. When David transports back to his world the TV announcers says that the first hour of the "Pleasantville" marathon has passed. David obviously spent several days in the TV world.
    • He'd still have to explain how she aged. Even a couple of years does wonders when you're gone. Party hardy, maybe.
    • Maybe Pleasantville runs on Comic Book Time and she won't age...
    • Or maybe she'll just age in people years and won't show dramatic aging after a year or two. But hey, I could be wrong.
      • Three years isn't actually that much when you're Jennifer's age - even if she ages, it won't show THAT much. She could put it down to maybe getting a full makeover while out of town for about a week. It's not like she'll have lost three years of her life; just... misplaced them. And if she doesn't age, problem solved.
    • What about the thing they did in The Chronicles of Narnia? Those kids were there like fifteen years living there and aged normally, but when they got back into their world, they were children again.
    • This is sort of supported. When David is about to be transported back to the real world, he has his hair combed back and is wearing a basketball jacket. When he's back in the real world, he looks the same he did when he first left, although he still has the jacket.
    • I figured that, when David came back but Jennifer didn't, the same reality warping magic that was transforming Pleasantville altered the real world so that there never was a Jennifer.
  • Maybe people in the actual 1950's weren't happy, but these were actual fantasy characters designed to be happy. Happiness is relative anyway. If you have 10 dollars, you want 20; if you have 20 dollars, you want 40. These people actually had everything they wanted because they honestly didn't know any better (unlike in the real 50's, where they pretended not to know or had feelings glazed over). But Witherspoon's character had to screw it all up, and the movie made it clear she did it for her own amusement. Now they're saddled with the desires we have. You know, the ones we drive ourselves miserable chasing after, the ones that will never be satisfied. If these people had wanted these things for themselves, they would have snapped themselves out of this mode the way we did. They wouldn't have needed an outsider to do it for them. This makes the whole exercise of this movie either: a) tragic, b) pointless, or c) a worthless Strawman argument.
    • You're missing the point. The Pleasantvillers (is that a word?) only know complete averageness of feelings. They can't suffer because they don't know sadness, but they don't know happiness either; they have no desire for advancement, but their existence has no point; they don't have the aching need to fulfill their desires, but they don't have the satisfaction of doing so; they don't get sexually frustrated, but they don't get orgasms. Which life would you prefer: one in which your feelings are always stuck exactly in the middle, or one that allows for suffering, but also allows for happiness?
    • Someone obviously hasn't read 1984.
    • It's the inverse of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with emotions being introduced to the citizens, seen from the POV of the "invaders".

  • If there is no "outside of Pleasantville", then who is the basketball team playing against? And if the Pleasantville team always wins, then that means someone always loses. It surely isn't pleasant for them, whoever they are.
    • It seems obvious that Pleasantville's general idealism means that nobody was expected to really think about it. Alternatively: "It's not the winning, it's the taking part that counts."
    • According to the DVD commentary by director Gary Ross, he explains that the opposing team is indeed an unknown visiting team that is perpetually always in town playing against Pleasantville, a la the Washington Generals in relation to the Harlem Globetrotters.
    • Wow, now that is a Fridge Logic Fate Worse than Death. You're stuck outside of your (non-existent) home, always losing The Big Game , forever. Even if they're too lobotomized by the Fisher Kingdom powers of the setting to notice, you can't help but sympathize.
    • Being that they don't know rivalry, they are probably driven entirely by the desire to just do sports, without caring for whether they win or lose. Notice that when Pleasantville loses, but real feelings haven't yet exploded in town, the players don't seem too concerned about their loss either.
    • I'd have guessed cross-town rivals, myself.
      • It's not out of the realm of possibility that a town has more than one highschool. Like Beverly Hills High vs. West Beverly for example. And makes sense in the scheme of no "outside of pleasantville."
  • What happened to Bud and Mary Sue? I understand they were replaced when David and Jennifer came, but when David left, did the real Bud come back?
    • Additionally, if he did come back, how would he adjust to the radical changes that took place while he was gone?
    • I always figured that Bud and Mary Sue just took the places of the main characters in the real world. Considering that they pretty much had to have gotten used to differences in people and changes in society while they were in the "real world", they shouldn't have too many problems returning back to Pleasantville. Hell, the still changing, fairly conservative Pleasantville would probably be a relief from David and Jennifer's world. Or, alternately, they went completely insane from the culture shock and won't notice the difference anyway.
    • Remember the whole timing issue - even if Bud has lived in place of David, it's only been an hour. A ridiculously confusing hour, no doubt, but just an hour nonetheless - he wouldn't have had time to adapt to the real world. It might, however, have shocked him enough that modified-Pleasantville, which is now somewhere between old-Pleasantville and real life, would still look like a lot better. Alternatively if he hasn't lived in David's time he just comes back, gets the culture shock of his life, and then adapts like everyone else in Pleasantville has already done.
    • I assumed Bud and Mary Sue cease to exist. They were never real so it doesn't matter. The real “Bud” is David and the real “Mary Sue” is Jennifer. Both of whom take a town full of fictional characters and help transform them into real people.

  • Will the toilets appear in the soda shop now?
    • You probably meant that as a joke, but I can't resist answering the question. Yes, if the map outside of Pleasantville fills in, that would suggest the emergence of other common infrastructure.
    • Unless the toilets were smashed when the shop was ransacked.
    • A better (if squickier) question might be, if the toilets have all appeared, but the residents of Pleasantville haven't ever used a toilet before, does that mean we now have an entire town full of people who need to be individually toilet trained?
    • Wanna get into icky problems related to their newfound biological needs? Forget toilets - let's talk pregnancies. No systems for birth control, and they've all just discovered sex and are collectively doing it like rabbits. You do the maths.
      • Didn't something similar actually happen in the real world around the same time period?
  • What good is it for Jennifer to go to college in the Pleasantville universe? It's not like it'll change her (presumably shitty) real-world grades, nor will her Pleasantville degree be honored by real-world employers. Does she plan on staying in Pleasantville forever?
    • She could just be going to college because she wants to learn. Her big color changing moment is when she chooses to stay home with a book rather than go out with Skip, because reading is fun and learning is its own reward.
    • Besides, as discussed above, with Year Inside, Hour Outside, in several days of real-life time she would return with all the knowledge of a post-graduate. Then she'd just take an external degree in the real-life analogue of the institution she'd gone to in Pleasantville.
    • She'll have learned how to buckle down and study, and she'll have matured, making mistakes and learning from them. Those mistakes won't affect her real life and she'll still be the wiser for them. And yes, she'll have learned a lot - psychology, medicine, geography, math and numerous science majors still have a lot of information that is used today. Not to mention her history is only missing 50 years - American history has been around for a lot longer than 50 years and hasn't changed a lot in how it's taught. Alternatively if she decides to throw it all away and party constantly, she'll have it out of her system by the time she gets back.
    • I don't see the problem. She'll be away six days; when she gets back, she'll have plenty of time to fill up the fifty years of history she's missing, and she'll have a lot of background on which to build this knowledge.
  • Did Betty and her husband realize that Bud and Mary Sue had been replaced/weren't their actual children? Surely the radical personality changes would have been a clue off.
    • At first, no, because remember no one in Pleasantville feels anything really unpleasant. If they noticed Bud and Mary Sue were acting differently, they would have chocked it up to some utterly mundane and vanilla childhood problem (like not having the newest pencil that all the other kids are using). It would have been like a world-class case of denial where any personality alterations would have been instantly rationalized away and forgotten about. Clearly by the point where the whole "anti-colored" movement had started they know something is up, but they're too busy reeling from all the other changes going on to really put everything together. By the end, David and his sister have clearly explained it to them, considering that Betty is saying goodbye to David at the TV.
  • How do they know what colors are if everything is monochrome? Also, how do they not know of sex if they had children?
    • Taking into account that Pleasantville is a show, you could think that it poofed into existence with all of them in their pre-defined positions, and not knowing anything else than they need to make their sitcom.
    • When things start colorizing, a background character mentions seeing something that was "red red." I got the impression that while characters are aware that everything's in black & white, the conceit that it was black & white versions of colors was kept in place.
      • This is also seen at the town meeting once the issue starts getting more urgent. One woman accuses a man's door of being "blue". His response is "its always been blue!" so they've always known the color things were, but now they can actually see it.
    • Pleasantville parodies older TV shows, and one aspect of this parody is that they never address things like sex, or even allude to it. Shoot, in the 1950's, married couples on TV couldn't even share a bed.
    • The way I see it their wants, desires and feelings were never completely absent, just sorta turned into standby mode. They always had very vague notions of them: they knew what colors were, once the use of their genitals was explained to them they didn't need any more encouragement, and Johnson already took a very diluted form of pleasure in painting the bar's window. David and Jennifer coming in town didn't create anything that wasn't already there - they just upset the equilibrium and got the Pleasantvillers out of their standby mode.
  • So, why were there no fires in Pleasantville before David and Jennifer showed up? Surely they enjoyed restful evenings next to the fireplace back then.
    • Yes, but they never got out of the fireplace. Nothing "bad" happens in Pleasantville. That's sort of the whole premise of the setting.
      • I was just about to add that I remembered that they had fire pretty much under control. After all, their food was cooked.
      • Yup, they just didn't have any concept of a "fire fire", much like they were shocked by something being "red red".
    • No, there were no fires at all. Jennifer explicitly states that nothing burns, and takes out a handkerchief and a lighter to prove so. People also stared at the tree on fire without any concept of what it even was.
  • Wow the mom is in color now! Great huh? Until you realise gaining colour is usually associated with sex, her husband was still black and white
    • Gaining colour was associated with Character Development. The husband gained colour when he felt real love for the first time. With regards to sex, the mom said her husband "would never do that kind of thing" for her, meaning he is oblivious of sex as much as she was. Hence the bathtub scene and the tree bursting into flames.
    • The above is correct. Though it's quite clear what she's doing in the bathtub but not everybody who had sex was in colour and not everybody who was in colour ended that way because of sex. Bud's change occur when Bud he defends his TV mom from the bullies and Mary-Sue's when she decides to study instead of having sex.
  • A rare in-universe example, all over the place with the show. Highlighted once they enter the show's world where the things never addressed in the show simply don't exist. There are no toilets, there's literally nothing outside of Pleasantville, and the residents don't even know what sex is. And of course, the entire world is actually monochromatic.
    • Out of universe: If there's nothing outside Pleasantville, where did the opposing basketball team come from? At the very least, without any roads leading out, how did they get in?
      • They're cross-town rivals.
      • Another explanation: they get in off-screen. The citizens know about the USA, they just don't need to go there.

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