The Lying Game TV Poster Image

The Lying Game



Scintillating mystery thriller is OK for sturdy teens.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

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

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
Not applicable

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Premiere date:August 15, 2011
Cast:Alexandra Chando, Helen Slater
TV rating:NR
Available on:Streaming

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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 and up should be fine.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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 appropriate than Pretty Little Liars, also made by the same author, it has a great mystery and is a must watch for tweens and teens.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 13 years old Written bymoviefanatic88 July 2, 2014

Similar to Pretty Little Liars, but in a different way.

If you like pretty little liars, you will likely enjoy this show as well. It is addictive and I like that it is less sexual than pretty little liars. The only real reason why I said pause at 11 and under is because I don't know if 11 year olds will enjoy it as much. Overall, addictive.


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