A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this procedural crime drama focuses on an expert in lying and deception who helps law enforcement agencies and private clients determine whether people are telling the truth. The show is fiction but the science is real, and it's fascinating to watch him explain how he can tell when people are being dishonest. There's little outright violence (though characters do visit crime scenes and look at photos of the same), and mostly mild references to sex (though some episodes have more graphic scenes). Parents might be wary that the show could offer kids tips about fooling others, though it could also be just as useful to parents when it comes to spotting falsehoods.
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What's the story?
Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) is an expert in deception who has made a science out of studying the tiny, but telling, behavior patterns and bodily tics that indicate when someone is lying -- at least to people who know what to look for. In LIE TO ME, Lightman is the head of a Washington-based consulting company that's regularly brought in by law enforcement agencies, political agencies, private clients, and other groups when they're embroiled in especially juicy crimes and scandals and need to know whether someone is telling the truth.
Is it any good?
"Everybody lies," seems to be Lightman's motto, and it certainly keeps him in business. He and partner Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams) investigate a constant stream of cases in which the suspect seems so obviously guilty that you know he isn't, sex scandals with a hidden twist, possibly corrupt officials, unexplainable accidents, and other standard TV conflicts. The cases are interesting, but not surprising and will be familiar to anyone who's ever seen a cop show.
The fun in Lie to Me comes from Lightman's explanations about who's lying. The plotlines may be trite, but the show's science is based on rigorous research and is often backed up by pictures of real people trying to hide their feelings. The characters spend a good portion of each episode interviewing suspects and then dissecting the conversations -- examining the hidden meanings in a dilated pupil, a quick glance to the side, a subtle twitch in the corner of the mouth, and other tiny clues. Even more fun are Lightman's on-the-fly assessments of the people he encounters, ferreting out their deepest secrets to share with the world. Because it's true: Everybody lies.