Is it possible to find happiness when trouble was always around the corner? That's part of the premise behind ABC Family's "The Lying Game," which has revealed additional problems for a select few Phoenix residents. The show had a shaky start, but it has improved when it found a common villain.
"The Lying Game" followed two very different identical twins Sutton Mercer and Emma Becker (Alexandra Chando) who were on separate quests for answers. Emma was looking for her birth mother after growing up in foster care, while Sutton was adopted and raised by Ted (Andy Buckley) and Kristin Mercer (Helen Slater). Unfortunately, Emma wasn't aware that Sutton already found their birth mother Rebecca (Charisma Carpenter) and was working with her to get the Mercers to break up. Rebecca was also using her new husband Alec (Adrian Pasdar) as a means to get back together with Ted and as a form of revenge for past sins. Meanwhile Emma was caught between her broken relationship with Ethan (Blair Redford) and her growing attraction for her best friend Mads' (Alice Greczyn) brother. It also didn't help that Sutton was making a play for Ethan as well and she decided to use every trick in her book to get him to look her way again. Emma also had to deal with Sutton's adopted sister Laurel (Allie Gonino) struggling to adjust to her parent's separation and keeping her from finding out her secret. Will Emma succeed or will Laurel be the next person to find out about Emma's identity?
In terms of questions, the show has asked many and has only answered a few so far. The second season premiere has revealed a few more skeletons in Alec's already full closet as he revealed to Chando's Emma that he knew about her. Pasdar also managed to the perfect villain even when his character was behind bars, especially when he didn't have to say a word. He was able to easily creep out Chando by simply winking at her when he was being led to jail. That simple gesture was definitely unnerving and foreshadowed his upcoming meeting with Emma. Carpenter has also come pretty close to being a superb villainess as well because she was able to deceive everyone so easily without even trying. She made Rebecca the perfect contradiction of innocence and ruthlessness at the same time by smiling as she was twisting a metaphorical knife into someone's back. Carpenter's addition to the cast has made her the character to watch because she was the missing link in Emma's quest to find the truth, which was what the show was missing in its first season. As soon as Rebecca arrived, that was when the real trouble started. Let's hope that Carpenter is here to stay for the long haul, or at least until it's no longer necessary.
As for breakout stars, Carpenter and Chando, for her portrayal of Sutton, were leading the pack for different reasons. The biggest reason was the newfound partnership between Sutton and Rebecca to cause complete havoc in Phoenix. The show was very wise in pairing newcomer Carpenter with Chando's Sutton who was the perfect youthful viper to help carry out her mother's plans when she couldn't. Chando and Carpenter have a dynamic rapport as an equally deceptive team who were just secretly looking to be loved by their ideal partners, but they kept falling short of getting everything. Their breakthrough scene happened later in the premiere when Carpenter's Rebecca gave Sutton some true motherly advice about trying to be honest for a change in order to get what she wanted. That scene was a great departure from their usual scheming and allowed them to form a unique bond that will suit them down the line. Unfortunately, the likelihood of Sutton and Rebecca finding true happiness was pretty much slim to none; especially when their lies get exposed eventually. When that happens, that's when the drama will truly unfold.
"The Lying Game" premiered on January 8th and airs Tuesdays at 9:00 PM on ABC Family.
Verdict: Carpenter's arrival has added a whole new layer of drama and helped to give Chando's Sutton a partner in crime.
TV Score: 3 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)