Phillippe has a few slight casting issues, as well. At 40 years old, he’s still spry and youthful enough to make you question his character having teenage daughters. Still, he anchors the show with a satisfying exasperation as the accused Ben Crawford. He’s got secrets and lies in abundance, but they mostly ring with a resounding dud, until an unexpectedly clever twist capping the premiere teases more soapy drama.
But that’s really the big caveat here: this is far more soap than prime-time drama. Secrets and Lies revels more in familial strife and neighborly affairs than any sort of breadcrumb trail of clues or intricately plotted whodunnit, at least in its first two episodes. That’s not a negative, because for the genre, going a more soapy route is actually a breath of fresh air, but it’s definitely an angle that some may not vibe with.
In the second hour, the show expands upon the relationships the Crawfords have with Jess (Tom’s mom) and Tom himself. Ben gains a possible new suspect to pin the blame on, and seeks help from a criminal lawyer when things really begin to go downhill. They detail more of the mysterious reasoning behind Ben’s late night antics the night of the murder, and even describe some of the marital strife happening between Ben and his wife Christy, something I didn’t think would be talked about for much longer. But, unfortunately, it’s a far less eventful and satisfying episode than the pilot, which doesn’t exactly bode well for the series’ ten episode run.
But I’m not here to speculate on what’s to come. As it stands, if you tune into Secrets and Lies with low expectations this Sunday, to see ABC’s stab at the so-called “Event Television” fad going around, you may just walk away slightly impressed. It doesn’t reinvent the genre or add anything new, but thanks to a convincing why-is-this-happening-to-me performance from Phillippe, and a few deliciously silly twists worthy of Desperate Housewives in its heyday, Secrets and Lies has the capacity to entertain – provided you can get past its somewhat monotonously laid-out plot.
Taking a decidedly soapy approach to the who-killed-the-kid subgenre, Secrets and Lies is by no means revolutionary, but those who give it a chance may easily lose themselves in its titular subject matter.