'The Lying Game' Review: A Fun, Soapy, Twin-Swapping Mystery
'The Lying Game' Review: A Fun, Soapy, Twin-Swapping Mystery
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
I can't decide if the CW is copying ABC Family, or the other way around. First, ABC Family's newest drama, The Lying Game (premiering Monday at 9pm), is eerily similar to the CW's fall drama Ringer, both shows about twins who trade places only to have one disappear. Second, the CW has two shows based on book series by L.J. Smith (The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle) while ABC Family now has two shows based on book series by Sara Shepard (The Lying Game and Pretty Little Liars). I guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Indeed, The Lying Game is basically everything fans of Pretty Little Liars already love. There's a slightly complicated and preposterous mystery, sassy teenage girls with plenty of secrets, and a bunch of cute boys. It all works perfectly to fit into the network's new image of edgy teen soaps, and it's surprisingly fun and engaging.

On the show, adopted rich girl Sutton Mercer (Alexandra Chando, who looks and acts just like The Vampire Diaries' Nina Dobrev) is tracking down her biological parents when she learns she has a twin sister. Why didn't Sutton's parents also adopt the twin? That's one of many, many secrets and lies for the rest of the series to explore.

Sutton tracks down her twin, a foster child named Emma, and the two chat online for three months without telling anyone about each other's existence. When Emma gets in trouble with the law, she runs to meet Sutton, who then says she's going to L.A., allegedly to track down their birth parents, but since she doesn't want to tell anyone, she wants Emma to pretend to be her.

If that little plot twist seems ridiculously stupid to you, you're not alone. The entire plot of The Lying Game hinges on this absurd switch, and while it seems to make no sense, there's enough mystery about Sutton's real motives that it seems just plausible enough. Emma goes along with it because the law is after her and she has no choice, and Sutton doesn't want anyone to know because ... well, Sutton is a very shady girl who has a ton of secrets that she doesn't tell anyone, including a big one that she even kept from Emma before the switch.

From there we meet Sutton's friends and family through the eyes of Emma. Sutton has two best friends, a bratty sister, an arch-nemesis on the tennis court, and a cute boyfriend. She also has another hot guy, Ethan Whitehorse, seemingly stalking her.

The mysteries and secrets are interesting and the premiere offers the promise that not every character on this show is a total moron. The best part is undoubtedly Blair Redford as Ethan, who may finally become a star with this show. He's had a rather successful year, first as the manipulative Oscar on 90210 and then as the good-hearted Ty on Switched at Birth. In The Lying Game Redford gets promoted to leading man status, and he has the looks and charm to pull it off.

The premiere has a lot of necessary exposition, but it does a good job of establishing most of the characters (with the exception of Mads and Char, Sutton's almost interchangeable best friends). It's also the kind of show fans will need to watch carefully because there are clues in throwaway lines, like the fact that Sutton has some type of history with Mads' brother Thayer, who happens to live in L.A.

If you need a new exciting mystery full of strong female teens and a slew of cute guys, The Lying Game is like the identical twin of Pretty Little Liars. Plus, Sutton's dad is played by the guy who was Dunder-Mifflin boss David Wallace on The Office, and that's just kind of cool.

(Image courtesy of ABC Family)