TV Review: The Lying Game

Written by Mark Peikert on . Posted in Arts & Film, TV.

Consider The Lying Game, ABC Family’s latest teen drama, to be the sycophantic sidekick to that channel’s Pretty Little LiarsLying tries to do everything that Liars does so easily, but, like the handmaiden to the queen bee, the strain is pretty obvious.

There’s nothing particularly fresh or appealing about this weird drama, about long-lost twin sisters (Alexandra Chando plays both) who switch places. Wealthy high schooler Sutton goes off to L.A. to track down the parents who gave them up for adoption, leaving the troubled Emma—who has fled her abusive foster family in Nevada, leaving behind some outstanding warrants—to step in to her designer shoes. Surprise! No one, not Sutton’s parents or friends, notices that their daughter has been replaced. The only one who catches on is the town pariah, and that’s because he’s been having a hot and heavy secret affair with Sutton.

There’s not much to The Lying Game (based on a novel by Sara Shepard, author of the Pretty Little Liars series, as well) that we haven’t already seen on PLL, right down to rescuing of a dimmed star to play a parent, in this case Helen Slater. Vaguely threatening bad boy heartthrob? Check. Outrageous dialogue? Yup. Bitchy classmates? Naturally, since this is set amid a high school crowd.

Where The Lying Game fails to emulate PLL is in its core mystery. Why were Sutton and Emma separated at birth? Who are their adoptive parents? Why was Sutton so eager to leave her fabulous life behind to go out in pursuit of the truth? Honestly, since we are learning about Sutton’s life at the same speed as Emma is, it’s hard to care. Those mysteries sound awfully pedestrian, anyway. Children get given up for adoption for a multitude of mundane reasons, and despite Sutton’s wide-eyed insistence, there’s not much reason to believe otherwise here. And there’s not much incentive to stick around to be proven wrong, either. If we want to watch a trashy drama about twin sisters switching places, we’ll wait a month for The CW’s Ringer, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, thank you very much.

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