TV Review - Secrets and Lies (2015)

Like with NBC's The Slap, this series is a remake of a 2014 Australian series. Writer Barbie Kligman turned this show around very quickly. It's an adaptation that's really a copy-and-paste, but there are subtle differences. Some of those differences make this show better than the original and some of the differences make it worse.

Ryan Phillippe stars as Ben Crawford, a self-employed house painter who discovers the body of a dead child in the woods near his home. He's married with teen daughters, but he's having troubles with his wife. Staying with him is his best friend Dave, played by Dan Fogler. Ben's life begins to unravel when the lead detective on the case, Andrea Cornell, played by Juliette Lewis, believes he's the one who killed the child.

Unlike the Australian series, this series is directed almost as a nod to David Fincher's Gone Girl. As such, it's difficult to suspect Ben is guilty, which, if he is, would be a stunning reversal, but, unlike Gone Girl, Andrea as a detective is too much of a creepy and bizarre figure who exists only to be a brick wall against which Ben can bang his head. She doesn't come off as an independently thinking person. She's extremely, overly suspicious. The series is exclusively from Ben's point-of-view, so her being overly suspicious is done by design, but this series seems to bend the Andrea character too far.

Ryan Phillippe is the same age as Martin Henderson, the actor hired to star in the Australian series, but Phillippe looks too young to play this role. Phillippe is 40-years-old, as Henderson is, but Phillippe looks like he's ten years younger, if not twenty years younger. Henderson (The Red Road) doesn't look old. Henderson is hunky and spends most of the Australian series shirtless and understandably because he's incredibly sexy, but he believably looks like a father of a teenage daughter.

The relationship between Ben and his wife in the American series isn't as clear at first, or in the first three episodes, than it is in the Australian series. You're not sure where Phillippe's character stands with his wife, but you are more sure of where Henderson's character stands with his wife.

This series also comes in the wake of Gracepoint, which was another remake of a TV series about a child's murder. It seems like an easy device for dark and depressing drama. Killing a child is an easy way to mire the whole thing in seriousness to draw people in with a twisted sense of sympathy and empathy, but it feels designed only to shock and make you cry rather than be about much else.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-LVS.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Sundays at 10PM on ABC.


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