I know You’re Lying
The White Rabbit
Tackling the subject of rape was never going to be an easy feat but ITV’s Liar seemed original enough to make this a fascinating character driven drama. The premise is simple enough, a man and woman go on a date together and after awakening in her bed, Laura Nielson (Joanne Froggatt) claims her date Andrew Earlham (Ioan Gruffudd) has raped her. Visibly shocked and repulsed, Andrew denies the allegations whilst Laura grapples with her memory. What follows should be an interesting character examination and psychological journey into the psyches of these two characters that slowly unravel the truth through a series of flashbacks as shown in the first episode. Unfortunately what transpires is an illogical, agenda-driven show that implodes on its own premise and devolves into a poorly written, cliched drama with unbelievably bad character writing.
The story itself is actually well paced for the most part, with enough time given to both characters to at least try and give both sides of the story to keep the mystery going. Unfortunately this is short lived as the story devolves early on from what could have been a thought provocative drama that maturely tackled the subject of rape to a soap opera good VS bad angle rife with an outrageous story and cliffhanger ending to keep the show running through to an inevitable second season. “87,000 women are raped every year!” Laura spits at one point, neglecting the smaller writing on the poster behind her mentioning a further 12,000 men also claim to be raped. Its a shame because I can’t help but feel that a more respectful approach to the subject, acknowledging that men too are victims, would have done Liar the world of good.
Character wise its very difficult to empathise with the supposed rape victim Laura who’s actions are astonishingly erratic and borderline psychotic. Whilst I understand that believing you’ve been sexually abused can drive people to do crazy things, proclaiming in disgust to the police that the investigation is “not moving fast enough” and deciding to break into someone’s house before manipulating a police officer to gain a “legal” warrant to enter said person’s house with a drug squad is up there with one of the most illogical, ludicrous decisions in a script. This isn’t an isolated incident either and these poorly written scenarios haunt the show from start to finish making it difficult to know where to start in this respect.
Liar’s problems run deep and all of them fall with the story and plot. The police investigation which takes up a lot of the run time is really badly written and there are numerous instances of astonishing bias from the female detective on the case and a questionable investigation that’s compromised very early on by character actions. Speaking of which, the big reveal that the show seems to base its premise around, who’s telling the truth and who’s lying, is revealed midway through the third episode killing any mystery and turning Liar into an ugly, cliched drama lacking any real conviction and characterisation beyond what we’re shown. To make matters worse, the two lead characters take on completely different personas once the truth is revealed and instead of building to this slowly in a natural progression, its sudden and jarringly bad to the point of almost being comical. Technically, the show is actually pretty good too which makes the plot issues all the more frustrating.
Whilst we won’t give away any key plot points, suffice to say I can’t remember the last time a show started so brightly only to implode and lose any credibility it built up to that key moment. The poorly written, biased script along with the completely unlikable Laura, the show’s main protagonist, make Liar a tough pill to swallow. Technically the show is pretty good with some good shots and interesting composition but the way Liar changes during its middle portion and devolves into a cliched, lacklustre drama make this one of the most disappointing shows to be released this year.