ABC's Secrets and Lies vs. Similar Gracepoint: 'Ours Is So Much Better'

Can a drama about a dead child ever possibly thrive on TV?

In the wake of Fox’s Gracepoint putting up low numbers throughout its one-and-done run, ABC will test audiences’ appetite for a kid-centric murder mystery with Secrets and Lies, which itself is a U.S. adaptation of a foreign (Australian) series.

Premiering Sunday, March 1 at 9/8c, the midseason drama stars Ryan Phillipe (Damages) as Ben Crawford, a suburban family man who immediately emerges as a suspect in the murder of a neighborhood boy whose body he discovers while out for a jog. KaDee Strickland (Private Practice) plays Ben’s wife Christy, while Juliette Lewis (August: Osage County) is the stone-faced police detective working the bleak case.

The cast also includes Natalie Martinez (Under the Dome) as the victim’s mother and Dan Fogler (The Goldbergs) as Ben’s slacker friend.

Appearing at the Television Critics Association winter press tour panel, the Secrets and Lies cast and producers were of course met with questions about Gracepoint/Broadchurch similarities, to which Lewis quickly quipped: “Ours is so much better.”

Executive producer Barbie Kligman — who says she purposely didn’t watch Gracepoint until over the holidays — explained that the Fox series and its UK inspiration were “more traditional in terms of being many points of view and going on a journey with two detectives.” Secrets and Lies meanwhile delivers “a singular point of view,” that of prime suspect Ben. As such, “Ours is a character drama with an underlying mystery.”

But is a show centered on the death of a child (as opposed to an adult who, for all we know, could have had it coming to him) simply too unpalatable to ever draw a mass audience?

“Of course it’s tragic — perhaps the worst thing that can happen,” Kligman acknowledged. “But the show is about so much more than that. The journey is very much Ben Crawford’s attempts to prove his innocence. And in doing so, what it becomes much more about is the secrets and lies that the people around him are keeping. [It’s about] how he starts to look at all the people around him and realize he doesn’t know his neighbors, he doesn’t know his family. He may not even know himself.”

One thing Secrets and Lies does share with Gracepoint/Broadchurch is that the initial mystery “will be resolved at the end of this [10-episode] season,” Kligman said, “and in hopefully subsequent seasons we will have a different mystery.”

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  1. bj says:

    Having already see the Australian version, this one doesn’t interest me at all. I don’t understand why all these shows from English speaking countries have to be re-made.

  2. Tim says:

    And the Australian one is only 6 episodes! There is no way I could watch this after having watched the original.

  3. It's Me says:

    Wow. Talk about a high horse. Both shows aren’t an original idea.

  4. Carol C says:

    The Australian version was terrific. I will give this one a chance but am not expecting to be wowed.

  5. Willis says:

    Well, Broadchurch is going into its second season, and I’ll certainly be watching. Nothing I’ve seen or read about Secrets and Lies is tempting me so far.

  6. Amy H says:

    Saw the Australian version. Can’t imagine how they could remake it into 10 episodes or make it any better than the original. Not interested

    • lechatnoir says:

      Easy , throw in a couple more b-lines tied to the plot and introduce a character that didn’t exist in the original show and voila 10 episodes. That’s a known fact . I think we’ve seen this over and over again . The killing , resurrection etc…

      • Stacy says:

        Oh, the sadness of that truth. They water a story down and then ask why the combo isn’t as potent as the original…

        • Willis says:

          Take Broadchurch/Gracepoint. In the Gracepoint US version, they added two episodes, but kept the story largely intact until the end. However, they made the children older… not much, but about a year… and it reduced their ‘innocence’. Then they changed the killer to be, not a responsible adult, but another child. When the detectives collaborated in protecting the child, there was no place for the series to go in a second season. The second season of Broadchurch is flowing naturally from the first.

  7. Piers says:

    Can’t stand RP or JL so I wouldn’t watch it even if it was original and groundbreaking. it isn’t. Pass

  8. Jared says:

    I happened to watch the original Austrailian version on Netflix over the holidays and thought it was pretty good. I forgot ABC was remaking the show with Ryan Philippe and Juliette Lewis(2 actors I happen to love)but I doubt I’ll watch the US version now that I’ve already seen it

  9. N says:

    I love KaDee Strickland!

  10. Lizo says:

    I’m sorry, you have Ryan Phillipe….yours ISNT better.

  11. javadude54 says:

    Juliette Lewis? Pass.

  12. radmcawesome says:

    It’s not a huge achievement to be better than Gracepoint. I’ll be impressed if this show manages to be better than Broadchurch.

  13. Stacy says:

    Having already seen the Australian version, I’m not too tempted by this. For those who will watch, I do hope this fares better than the Gracepoint adaptation. The casting seems good enough. KaDee Strickland and Juliette Lewis should do well.

  14. Ally Oop says:

    The trailer looks incredible with a great cast. I’m avoiding the Aussie series to keep thids version fresh for me.

  15. mollytanner says:

    I like Ryan and Juliette, not so sure about Natalie. She was just so unceremoniously dumped from Under the Dome season 2, and she was ok in Detroit 187. I liked The Missing on Starz/BBC actually better than Broadchurch.

  16. herman1959 says:

    No more murdered child/small town mysteries for me; I’m skipping this one.

  17. nw says:

    I’m half American/half English and was living in Australia at the time this series aired. I, personally, (it may be the British side of me thinking this) don’t think American crime drama is done as well as British and over the years, becoming more acquainted with Australian crime series and films (eg. Animal Kingdom, Snowtown, etc), have such an appreciation for the naturalistic quality and honesty in their crime dramas. I remember watching Secrets and Lies and thinking how cheesily it would be done if it were an American series. I don’t know how closely this adaptation will follow the original but the storyline, in theory, is a little farfetched but it’s done so well, you buy it. I don’t think this will be the case with the US version.

  18. mj says:

    Broadchurch was excellent. Didn’t bother with Gracepoint since was same story. Have not seen the Oz version of this one though so might look at it. Best one so far has been The Missing

    • Sara says:

      Broadchurch was quite good. English professor for nearly 40 years. All “inspirations” which followed would have been considered plagiarism in my class and would have earned an F.

  19. dorothy light says:

    I disagree I think there are to many similarities to call it a different series so much so that I have lost interest in secrets and lies

  20. Tiya says:

    Honestly I feel like I’m watching the same show again just with a different title and character names

  21. Kathy Pavlak says:

    Both were excellent series, but Ryan Phillipe gave “secrets and lies” the edge. I wish both were returning