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The Lying Game

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Lying Game TV Poster Image
Scintillating mystery thriller is OK for sturdy teens.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 17 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series explores relationships between family members, couples, and friends, questioning the validity of those that are based on lies or misrepresentation. Some connections are improved by honesty, but others are threatened by it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although Emma's intentions are good, she misrepresents herself to Sutton's family and friends in part to protect herself. The Mercers are a loving couple who want what's best for their daughters. There's some cattiness among Emma and Sutton's friends, friendships are strained by backbiting, and cheating among teen couples is an issue.


Sporadic and unpredictable violence ranges from some slapping to the concept of murder, although the act is implied rather than shown. Suspenseful moments cause some chills, though.


Teens embrace, kiss, and flirt. A boyfriend's duplicity causes a rift in a relationship. Girls are occasionally seen in sports bras.


Some use of "hell" and "ass."


The show is based on a book series of the same name by Sara Shepard.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this thriller based on the book series by Sara Shepard dabbles in plenty of high school drama like romance, deception, popularity contests, and cattiness, but the fact that the story's protagonist keeps her distance from the bad behavior usually casts it in a negative light. Language is unpredictable ("hell" and "ass," mostly), and sexiness runs high among the teens, although physical contact usually tops out at kissing. If your teens can handle the show's suspense, then this tantalizing mystery will keep them on the edge of their seat.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byPinkladykari September 2, 2011

Watch with your child!

I've watched both episodes of this new series with my 11 yr. old daughter. We're enjoying the twist and turns. We talk about the fact that it'... Continue reading
Parent of a 6 year old Written byjulieinga August 20, 2011

A nice surprise-

I watched this show and was pleased by how simple it was- no one's pregnant, no one's sexually confused, no one was doing drugs, or any of the other t... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bylmtrav December 30, 2011

Pretty decent show

This show is pretty good. It isn't quite as good as its sister show, Pretty Little Liars, but I like it. The content is not that bad, and anyone around 12... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old August 17, 2013

Cool show for tweens and teens :)

great show, some sexual content that kids might not be able to see/ Hand holding, kissing, make out scenes, and hookups are mentioned and shown. While much more... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE LYING GAME centers on Emma (Alexandra Chando), a well-meaning teen who's been bounced around the foster system her whole life and is overjoyed to discover that she has a long-lost twin sister, Sutton (Chando again). Despite having an idyllic life with her wealthy adoptive family, Sutton's angry with her parents for what she sees as their deception over the details of her adoption, and she sets out to locate the girls' birth mother. At her sister's urging, Emma agrees to swap identities for a few days while Sutton tracks a lead, but when she doesn't turn up at their arranged meeting place, Emma's stuck keeping up the charade. She's unsure how long she can fool Sutton's parents and friends, and she fears that doing so will keep her from discovering the truth about her biological family.

Is it any good?

Dramatic and suspenseful, The Lying Game is based on a series of novels of by Sara Shepard, who also penned the best-selling books that inspired another ABC Family teen drama, Pretty Little Liars. Once again, Shepard's multi-dimensional characters translate well to the small screen, enticing viewers with their scintillating secrets and unpredictable motives. If you look a little deeper, you'll even find a few examples of warm relationships, like those of Sutton's parents and the one that her sister, Laurel (Allie Gonino), strives to have with Sutton's stand-in, Emma.


Because the show is geared toward teens, you can expect the requisite romance, betrayal, and cattiness of a "normal" TV teen's life. But the content feels a little exaggerated (and thus its silliness is exposed), since down-to-earth Emma usually observes, rather than partakes in, the unbecoming behavior. And the good news is that the content is fairly mild for the teen set, with minimal violence and marginal language ("hell" and "ass," mostly), and only kissing and some physical contact within relationships. That said, the chilling suspense and pending sense of danger require a certain sturdiness from viewers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about relationships. Are there any admirable relationships in this show? What qualities make them so? What qualities are important in your friends? How do you tell the difference between honest relationships and superficial ones?

  • Teens: What defines a family? How important is biology in family bonds? If you were adopted, would you want to find your biological parents? Why or why not?

  • Have you ever faced a difficult decision that involved deceiving someone you cared about? What factors affected your choice? Were you happy with the result? Is dishonesty ever OK?

TV details

For kids who love drama

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