Lie to Me



Crime drama focuses on the details of deception.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show's entire focus is determining who's lying and why. As the main characters often say, everyone lies -- so expect plenty of dishonesty, and plenty of interesting discussions about the justification for lies.

Positive role models

Lightman and his associates have no tolerance for dishonesty, and go to great lengths to expose lies, especially from people in positions of power or who use deception to attain wealth or take advantage of others.


There’s some on-screen violence, including fistfights and threatening conversations. The characters often discuss violent crimes, and sometimes must visit crime scenes and look at photos of crime scenes.


There are some discussions of sex, including flirting and innuendo. Some episodes also have more explicit scenes, including simulated intercourse, scantily clad characters, multiple partners, etc.


Occasional swearing, including “ass” and “sod off” (from the British lead character).

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some social drinking by adults.

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.

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about lying. Is it ever OK to lie? Do you think some small lies are a necessary part of social interaction?

  • Is it possible to tell, definitively, that someone is lying? Have you ever been caught telling a lie? If so, what gave it away, and what happened?

TV details

Cast:Kelli Williams, Monica Raymund, Tim Roth
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byDropOfLuck November 26, 2010

A fun twist on CSI

I really love this show! It's got great ideas in it, and it's very entertaining. I like the science element in it, as well as the reality of the show. This show is for a mature audience, and not for kids under thirteen-fourteen. You'll enjoy it! For my above concers, there will always be a viewer warning if the particular episode is more intense. Just watch out!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written byRosebud95 September 10, 2010
This show is cool, but it's not for kids because of some, sex, profanity and some violence. It's still cool, though.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent of a 9, 12, and 14 year old Written byfriend of toodleloo May 2, 2010

Older teens only--no tweens

My husband and I enjoy this show. Our 14 year old daughter watches it with us. People are frequently caught in their lies and the show makes no excuses for people's weaknesses and dishonesty. You certainly can readily see that good things happen to bad people, etc. The violence, sex, and language is o.k. with it, but it is the subject matter that makes me say no one under 14 should be watching it. We will talk to our daughter about choices people make and the unavoidable consequences that come as a result of the choices. As an adult, I very much enjoy the story lines and characters. It is a well written show. We do not let our 8 and 12 year old watch however.
What other families should know
Too much sex


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