Spring 2015 Review: Secrets and Lies

16 Mar

Secrets and Lies

It’s impossible not watch new TV shows and movies without viewing them through the prism of existing works we’re already familiar with. It’s impossible, for example, to watch an episode of Allegiance or The Assets and not think that either of those shows is a cheap rip-off of The Americans, regardless of whether they are cheap rip-offs or merely inferior similar programs which were conceived entirely independently coincidently. Likewise, whether or not it was conceived entirely independently, it’s hard to watch the pilot of Secrets and Lies and not immediately think of Gone Girl. Both focus on a media feeding frenzy that accompanies an attractive man accused of being a cold-blooded killer in a high profile murder case, and both hold out initially the information regarding whether the did he or didn’t he actually do it. Unfortunately, Secrets and Lies has these elements of Gone Girl but none of the quality which makes Gone Girl work.

Ryan Phillippe plays a hot father who, while out on a run, finds his neighbor’s young son dead somewhere on his path. Phillippe and his family live in Charlotte, a city in which, on his block at least, every neighbor knows the other, and gossip spreads fast. When no other suspect is quickly uncovered, Phillippe becomes the primary suspect, and the media, despite the lack of any evidence, pounce. In response, the nation and the locals turn against him. At the same time, he’s struggling with his marriage, with the implication that he participated in an affair which has his marriage on the rocks.

A persistent detective played by Juliette Lewis pesters and pesters him, suspecting him the whole time, but trying to subtly have him incriminate himself, rather than attack him straight out. Most of the first episode consists of her trying to trip him up, while he never quite gives in, and this happens about four different times, as he vacillates between trying to lawyer up to be smart, and trying to convince the world he has nothing to hide. Slowly, however, some incriminating evidence slowly builds even while he proclaims his innocence to suggest at least the possibility of his guilt.

The show promises both secrets and lies, but the first episode under delivers on both, not making the most of its first forty minutes to reel viewers in. The only lies, at least that we know about, are Philippe’s about his whereabouts, which he doesn’t remember (very drunk) and the only secret, revealed at the end of the episode, could not be more obvious to anyone who has ever watched a television show.

More than lacking substance, Secrets and Lies commits the more fatal sin of being boring. For a show whose goal appears to be edge-of-the-seat entertaining with a little bit of soapy intrigue, the first episode sure doesn’t make you want to know what happened or care at all about any of the characters.

Will I watch it again no? No. Secrets and Lies tries to be a sexy, mysterious potboiler, where you don’t know whose lying, and who isn’t, and what secret, or so the title implies, is right around the corner, but it is not one of these things except surprisingly boring and unsurprisingly unsurprising.

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