Before the premiere of Secrets & Lies Sunday night on ABC, there was an obvious comparison made to the series and another popular show: ITV and BBC America's Broadchurch. The new ABC series is actually based on an Australian series of the same name, but it was hard not to pit it up against the popular British show considering both series' concept are so similar. Secrets & Lies differs by following Ryan Phillippe's Ben as finds the body of his neighbor's child and tries to prove he is not the killer, even though the Detective on the case refuses to believe otherwise. Ben does seem a bit sketchy considering how much he's hiding from the cops and the rest of the community. In fact, after providing a DNA test, the results conclude that Ben was actually Tom's father. And yet, even with the knowledge that he cheated on his wife, and that Tom was his child, I still can't believe that Ben killed Tom. And if the American series follows its original Australian counterpart at all, my theory is definitely backed.
Here's the thing, even through all the secrets and the lies (guess this was a good name for the series!), Ben is adamant about one important thing: He did not kill Tom. And I just believe him. To start, it really does seem like he had no idea about being Tom's dad until Detective Cornell revealed the news to him. And in the Australian series, Ben is most certainly not the killer.
Sure, that doesn't actually prove anything. Broadchurch's American remake Gracepoint didn't have the same killer in the end. And while so far the American Secrets & Lies hasn't stayed completely truthful to its original source material, I do believe that the show will keep Ben innocent. So far, Ben is shown to truly care about Tom and Jess, Tom's mother. He's already started to ruin his relationships with his family, as he neglected to mention the information about Tom's paternity to his wife and children, they have to find out about it during the local news as there is a leak in the police department and the news gets released to the press. He also protects Jess from her estranged and clearly violent husband on a regular basis.
If the series follows the Australian version, Ben is likely to continue keeping secrets from Detective Cornell as he investigates Tom's murder by himself even though in the public eye, it's only a matter of time before he gets arrested and convicted. A few of Ben's neighbors are starting to look suspicious as one of them shows irrational hatred toward Ben even before he was considered the police's main suspect. And another neighbor talked to Ben about being uncomfortable with the police snooping through the community's trash cans and more. None of these things are really all that suspicious apart, but if Detective Cornell can make assumptions about Ben off of much less, why can't Ben (or I) do the same?
The thing that's difficult to really understand is why Detective Cornell is pushing Ben so hard? Does she really and truly believe that Ben is the killer just because he's obviously keeping his affair with Jess a secret from everyone? She's borderline harassing Ben with questions and accusations, she doesn't lift a finger when Ben is assaulted by Jess' estranged husband. And on top of that she seems to be unwilling to investigate anyone else. That makes it difficult to see anyone else as being a suspect, but I still can't believe Ben did it.
Secrets & Lies can't just be the title of this series because of Ben's secrets and lies. There is still so much to discover in this community, in this neighborhood, and in Tom's life. As the show digs deeper, Ben's secrets will be the least of Detective Cornell's worries.
Images: Bob D'Amico/ABC; abcsecretsandlies/Tumblr