TV Review - Secrets and Lies: Season 2

The first season was about a man who is accused of a child murder. It was a shocking crime and the series was mainly about the man's frustration, as the series makes clear he's innocent but the female detective doggedly investigates him. The series follows the man as he basically figures out himself who the killer is. The first season was a remake of the Australian show of the same name and pretty much copied that Australian version faithfully. This second season is not a remake or an adaptation. It's a new thing unto itself.

This season is interesting because it centers on a black man who is the prime suspect when his wife is murdered. His wife is a white woman. Given all the hoopla over the O. J. Simpson case this year in both film and TV, the idea of a black man suspected of killing a white woman is topical, but it's a wonder why this season isn't playing up the racial aspects more. I suppose that writer Barbie Kligman's ignorance of racism is a sign of progress.

Diversity is good, but, as this season goes along, it's still very much male-centered. The protagonist and prime suspect again is a man. Despite being obvious that the prime suspect isn't guilty, the likelihood is that the killer is another man, which in many ways is boring. Maybe Kligman will swap her protagonist's gender next season, if there is a third season.

This season focuses on a wealthy family. Last season was about a small business owner who lived rather well in a really upscale suburb. Yet, he was blue-collar and worked a lot with his hands. He got dirty and sweaty for his job. This is the opposite of the protagonist here.

Michael Ealy (Sleeper Cell and Almost Human) stars as Eric Warner, an executive at his father's financial firm, the Sherwood Equity Group. Eric is being groomed to take over the company. He's a black man but his father is white. He's black but he's also white collar. He dresses in what looks like tailor-made or fashion designer suits. He always looks impeccable. He probably sits in an office all day.

The first episode is the death of his wife, Kate, played by Jordana Brewster (The Fast and the Furious). She falls off the top floor of the building where Sherwood Equity Group is located. Prior to the fall, there was a party. Piecing together who was where and who would have had motive to kill her are the focus.

Juliette Lewis (Wayward Pines and The Firm) reprises her role as Andrea Cornell, the detective from the first season who is the epitome of stoicism. She is strictly professional. She displays no humor and no compassion. She is there to be a thorough investigator and nothing more. She acts seemingly without passion or prejudice. She's a veritable ice queen.

As last season, her character exists mainly to be a foil to the main character under suspicion. The problem is her character remains in the background and somewhat distant. Kligman and her writers never allow us into her head or to follow her or see things from her point-of-view. She might as well be a phantom haunting Eric. She's not like Gillian Anderson in The Fall who balances stoic woman with a fully developed character shown outside her work.

With no racial or gender issues to juggle, the only things left are rather standard soap-opera tropes. The third episode suggests what might be akin to the issues involved with the 2008 financial crisis, but the revelation at the end of the first episode about Kate having a mystery baby that Eric never knew seems to be a driving force. Long lost children popping out of nowhere has been a soap-opera trope forever. This series picks up that trope and runs with it

Terry O'Quinn (Hawaii Five-0 and Lost) co-stars as John Warner, the father of Eric and the owner of Sherwood Equity Group. He's getting older and wants to pass the business onto his three children of which Eric is the eldest. He has a black wife who has been hospitalized and comatose. He's a sweet and loving man but he's not opposed to covering things up.

Mekia Cox (Undercovers and Almost Human) also co-stars as Amanda Warner, the sister of Eric who happens to be a lawyer. She represents Eric in his interactions with Detective Cornell. She's a no-nonsense kind of person, a good match for Cornell but we really only see her in connection to Eric's interactions with the police.

Charlie Barnett (Chicago Fire and The Happy Sad) co-stars as Patrick Warner, the younger brother who is the veritable comic relief. He's very personable, charming and funny. He's there as not only a brother but also a friend, a true friend who's there for Eric. He's a more smooth and suave version of Dan Fogler in the first season.

Eric Winter (Days of Our Lives and Witches of East End) plays Neal Oliver, the best friend to Eric and co-worker.

Kenny Johnson (Bates Motel and The Shield) has a recurring role as Danny, a mysterious enforcer. He's a big, buff, tough guy who seems like a threat but might have an agenda that aligns with Eric.

The cast is of course fantastic, but the way in which the mystery is unpeeled or doled out slowly makes me want to skip to the end and only watch the very last episode. What's interesting is seeing how a man deals with the aftermath of being under suspicion of murder. In the business world, there is a lack of confidence that affect how companies operate. This might be compelling to watch, but instead, the series will likely veer to mystery baby drama and who might the father be.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-PG-L.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Sundays at 9PM on ABC.


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