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5 Shows like Secrets & Lies: It’s All about the ‘Who Dunnit’?

Roxanne_Sancto_itcher_contributorThe original Australian version of ‘Secrets and Lies’(Network 10, 2014) was so captivating, they released as U.S remake earlier this year, allowing the series to reach a wider audience. If you’re into solving the “who dunnit” in shows like ‘Secrets and Lies’, why not join the cast of ‘Damages’ and ‘Broadchurch’ in their investigations? ~ Roxanne Sancto

A Surprising Ending to a Frenzied Search

Everything changes for Ben (Martin Henderson) in one fated night. When he finds the body of four-year-old Thom, his neighbour’s son, the police investigation quickly turns the search on him. Why?  The murder weapon just so happens to be Ben’s flashlight.

With the media’s spotlight on him and his desperate attempts to figure out who killed Thom, Ben brings more and more suspicion upon himself, causing his friends, colleagues and family to turn against him. When the true culprit is revealed, the whole world breaks down for Ben and his wife Christy (Diana Glenn).

‘Secrets and Lies’ has a very eerie, anxious atmosphere, typified by the irrational behaviour of the protagonist. These behaviours will have you shouting out “Don’t do it!” or “Just tell them!” at the screen in absolute fear and frustration. Although the U.S version is great in its own right and features amazing actors such as Juliette Lewis and Ryan Phillippe in lead roles, it failed to capture the frenzied feeling of the original Australian version. 

If you’ve discovered a taste for murder investigations and the psychology behind the people involved thanks to TV series like ‘Secrets and Lies’, be sure to tune into the shows mentioned below!


Shows Similar to ‘Secrets and Lies’…

‘Broadchurch’ (ITV, 2013- )

The quiet town of Broadchurch is turned on its head with the murder of a young boy, Tom. When Detective Ellie Miller’s (Olivia Colman) best friend’s son, Tom (Adam Wilson), is found dead, friendships in the town begin to fray.

Each episode of ‘Broadchurch’ ends on a cliff-hanger and the down-to-earth personalities of the characters really have the potential of drawing you into the world of this seemingly idyllic coastal village. The third season of ‘Broadchurch’ is set to be filmed in the summer of 2016.

Similarity Match: 85%
‘Broadchurch’ and ‘Secrets and Lies’ depict small communities mourning a young child and focuses on the subsequent feelings of blame and helplessness. However, ‘Broadchurch’ goes into more depth in terms of character study.

‘Glue’ (E4, 2014)

A night of crazy drug-taking and wild dares ends in tragedy for a group of friends in the country village of Overton.

The youngest, Cal (Tommy Lawrence Knight), is found dead the next morning. His friends Annie (Jessie Cave), Rob (Jordan Stephens), Tina (Charlotte Spencer) and James (Billy Howle) pay tribute to his memory by torching a stolen car and burning his belongings, a famous Gypsy tradition. But it seems as though several members of the group know more about Cal’s death than they are letting on.

‘Glue’ is a series similar to ‘Skins’ in that each episode focuses on a different member of the group. The first episode entitled “Everyone” introduces the group as a whole, whereas each following episode concentrates on one individual or a couple.

Similarity Match: 80%
As is the case in ‘Secrets and Lies’, ‘Glue’ also focuses on a murder case in a small community and the aftermath thereof. However, the protagonists in ‘Glue’ are a lot younger which leads to a lot of high-school-like quarrels.

‘Happy Valley’ (BBC One, 2014- )

Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) is a police officer based in West Yorkshire; she is investigating the kidnapping of Ann Gallagher (Charlie Murphy), the daughter of wealthy business man, Nevison (George Costigan). Catherine is a tough police woman, but she’s got her own trauma to deal with: her daughter committed suicide after experiencing a brutal rape that left her pregnant.  

Catherine is raising her daughter’s son with the help of her sister, but she cannot shake desperation to find her daughter’s rapist Tommy (James Norton). When she finally spots him freely roaming the village, she becomes obsessed with capturing him, not realizing that he is connected to Ann’s kidnapping as well.

Similarity Match: 75%
The protagonists of ‘Secrets and Lies’ and ‘Happy Valley’ are determined to find closure. But while Ben is a murder suspect, Catherine puts her own life in danger by following her own investigation.


If You Like ‘Secrets and Lies’, You Will Like…

TV shows like ‘Secrets and Lies’, ‘Happy Valley’, ‘Glue’ and ‘Broadchurch’ share two major things in common:

Firstly, they all concentrate on what happens in the wake of a murder that has taken place in a small, close-knit community. Secondly, it paints a pretty grim picture of what extenuating situations can do to family or life-long friends: Namely, tear them apart.

Let’s check out a few shows where murder investigations have the potential to break up a family or, in ‘Damages’ case, break one person in particular.

‘Damages’ (FX, 2007-2012)

When Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) first starts working for the renowned law firm Hewes & Associates, she is extremely proud of her accomplishment. Not everyone has the chance to work with the infamous Patty Hewes (Glenn Close), fresh out of law school.

But even before she takes the plunge into her new working environment, several warning signs light up along the way – signs she happily ignores and at a cost. Before long, her fiancé David (Noah Bean) is dead and her own life is in danger. 

While ‘Secrets and Lies’ follows a linear plot line, ‘Damages’ relies heavily on flashbacks. Both shows focus on desperate characters determined to do the right thing, but often failing to do so.

‘Bloodline’ (Netflix, 2015- )

“We’re not bad people. But we did a bad thing.” – This is the tagline to Netflix’s ‘Bloodline’ which premiered earlier this year. It focuses on the Rayburn family and the conflicts between family patriarch Robert (Sam Shepard) and his estranged son Danny (Ben Mendelsohn). With tensions running high between Ben and the rest of the Rayburn clan, things take an unexpected turn.

Like ‘Secrets and Lies’, ‘Bloodline’ follows a family in the throes of a tragedy. But where ‘Secrets and Lies’ mainly concentrates on Ben, ‘Bloodline’ shines a light on the whole family.


Murder & Family Affairs

What makes series like ‘Secrets and Lies’ and ‘Broadchurch’ stand out against the rest, is that the respective murder investigations are  urgent, intimate, touching as they affect whole towns, villages and communities. It portrays the various emotions felt by those left behind, those hopelessly searching for answers and those confronted with the search for evil souls.

Which of these shows affected you the most?

How long did it take you to figure out who dunnit?

My name is Roxanne Sancto and I’ll be writing all things music, book and movie related for itcher mag. I also write for New Heroes & Pioneers’ upcoming Festival and Culture magazines, to be launched in the spring of 2014. I am the co-author of The Pink Boots and am currently working on two new novels. I love music, literature, cinema, crafting, yoga and animals.
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