Could ‘Liar’ Be the New ‘Big Little Lies’? Why You Need to Watch the Thriller

Big Little Lies was such a huge hit given its Oscar-winning leading ladies, great storytelling, and having an air of mystery. It’s no wonder why a lot of fans are asking for a Season 2 out of the miniseries. We might still be waiting for confirmation on that but SundanceTV looks like it has a great way to fill that void.

Liar is a new series in which a teacher, Laura, and a doctor, Andrew, go on a date together. The two end up having very different perspectives of what happened on the date. The thriller will have you questioning who is lying and who is telling the truth. The subject matter is pretty serious given it includes rape.

So what should you know about the six-episode drama? Here are seven things to know about it from Liar’s panel at Tribeca TV Festival.

1. The show features a strong female character who might have been raped

Laura walks along a street during the evening.

Joanne Froggatt | SundanceTV

Television has been really bringing it when it comes to better written female characters. Joanne Froggatt pulls you in with her portrayal of the complicated Laura. So what was the most important part of preparing for the role?

“It was probably getting my head around Laura’s thought process,” Froggatt told The Cheat Sheet. “It’s sort of the same for any character really. It sometimes takes more or less work [to] sort of figure out their personality and their thought process. And as I said in the Q&A some of the decisions Laura makes aren’t necessarily the best decision. You have to make sense of that behavior to make the character sort of truthful.”

This isn’t the first time the actress is playing a storyline that deals with rape on screen. She did so in Downtown Abbey but this has a very different outcome given Laura’s personality.

“Laura is very determined and she will not be swayed from her path rightly or wrongly,” Froggatt told The Cheat Sheet. “And that really interested me to play somebody that’s so headstrong that they are absolutely going to follow what they think is right and aren’t really very influenced by anybody else’s opinion. So I liked that about her. Sometimes it’s a flaw in her and sometimes it’s a strength.”

2. The big question: who did it? Or did it even happen?

Lauren sits on her desk while in her school classroom.

Lauren is dealing with the issue internally. | SundanceTV

The drama is going to pull you in from the very first episode. The craziest part is that it’s not clear at all if a crime took place.

“We all like to sort of know how the puzzle’s solved don’t we?” said Froggatt on the panel. “And Jack [Williams] and Harry [Williams] do that so brilliantly in their writing. People change their minds many times I think and you know you really need to see all six.”

3. Laura is motivated by revenge

Andrew holds a phone to his ear as he listens to a message.

Ioan Gruffudd as Andrew Earlham | SundanceTV

The big difference between Big Little Lies and Liar is the response to an assault. From the very beginning, Laura is on a mission.

“She is a woman that wants revenge,” revealed Joanne on the panel. “We don’t really know at this point after seeing the first episode quite what that revenge … we don’t know what that revenge is based on. But she’s a woman that feels that she’s entitled to some sort of revenge and she’s determined to get it.”

4. Like Big Little Lies, all the characters are hiding some kind of lie

Lauren and Andrew sit on a couch with glasses of wine.

Secrets will be revealed. | SundanceTV

Both shows have a lot of characters that are somehow tied to each other. They also end up hiding a lot of secrets.

“We thought all of the other characters’ stories have to revolve around lies of some kind and explore what the lie is,” explained executive producer Harry Williams on the panel. “You know there’s a good lie — you can kind of be lying to protecting somebody. You can be lying to hurt somebody you know just trying to dig into that in any possible way that we can.”

But there are flashbacks that tell the truth throughout the show. So what exactly are the creators trying to say about lying? The Cheat Sheet asked this question during the panel.

“I think it’s, yeah, questioning things,” answered executive producer Jack Williams. He then continued, “it’s dividing people and they’re questioning. They’re both believing totally different people and that fundamental problem is the reason there aren’t that many convictions in that kind of area you know? It’s one person’s word against another. So you know people [are] going away and sort of exploring that and debating things. I explore what it is to lie and the power of that and how damaging it can be. I think it’s an important thing.”

5. There are some deeply emotional scenes

Lauren crying while under a light outside in a dark street.

The series will not hold back on issues of sexual assault. | SundanceTV

Froggatt does a great job playing strong and determined but also completely distraught. It’ll make you wonder: how does she get there for those emotional scenes?

“It’s different every day,” explained Froggatt to The Cheat Sheet. “It’s really about being in the moment really and playing the situation and the scene and sort of trying not to overthink it. As soon as you start thinking ‘oh my goodness this is a big scene I need to be emotional!’ that sort of stops you from being able to do that. Just more about being in the moment and concentration really and just letting it happen.”

6. Froggatt hopes the show will end taboo on talking about date rape

Lauren talking to detectives in a living room.

Lauren will have to fight to be taken seriously. | SundanceTV

When you deal with a tough subject matter like rape you have to be clear on your intent. For the actress, she hopes it will start a dialog among viewers.

“I did go through that thought process and sort of said to myself ‘how do I feel about doing a thriller based around this subject matter?’” the actress said during the panel. “And I thought: well, every thriller is based around a horrific crime or a horrific subject matter so why does this particular one on sexual assault or rape or date rape feel still taboo? And isn’t that a reason we should be — you know — breaking down that taboo?”

7. The creators of the show went to counselors and women to make sure they handled the subject correctly

Andrew stands talking to detectives in the hospital.

The series will show an accurate portrayal of the aftermath of date rape. | SundanceTV

A lot of shows like Game of Thrones have been called out for being careless with storylines that involve rape. But these executive producers seem to want to avoid that.

“We’re very aware that we’re two men writing about this sort of subject so yeah, we showed it to counselors,” said Harry Williams during the panel. “We showed it to women in the office and just made sure things sounded right and that we’re done our research properly. You know you’ve got to be responsible with these things but yeah, we showed it around really.”

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!