The backstory of Tell Me Your Secrets is enigmatic. It’s been on the shelf for a few years after TNT decided to cancel it after the first season was done. It “wasn’t right” for TNT, according to Brett Weitz, general manager of TNT, TBS, and TruTV.
However, the ready-made suspense series starring TV vet Amy Brenneman and real-life couple Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater seem to have found a new lease on life (Rabe’s impressive success in HBO’s recent limited series The Undoing probably didn’t hurt).
The film, which was produced by Harriet Warner of Call the Midwife, is now available on Prime Video in its entirety.
The ’s mission of Tell Me Your Secrets appears to be in its title (original title: Deadlier Than The Male), but you have to wonder if revealing these secrets leads to a better path for everyone. Mary pays a visit to Karen in prison in the first episode of the series to learn the truth about what happened to her daughter.
But what if Mary is unable to accept the truth? How many more times do we need to hear about Kit slamming women with a hammer? John wants to improve, as shown by his meditation altar and often repeated calming mantra, but what if he can’t? Even when the information is necessary—as when the group home is a part of a conspiracy involving the entire town of St.
James, including John-Boy Walton himself, Richard Thomas, as town leader—the facts are almost too depressing to contemplate. What is the polar opposite of energizing? What do you mean, downlighting?
The three talented leads battle valiantly to rise above such descending stuff, which is as muddy and sticky as the swamps Emma and Jess move through in St. James. The Mary/John relationship becomes more intriguing as it devolves, as she eventually discovers that putting a serial killer back out on the loose wasn’t the best idea.
John is imbued with so many nuances by Linklater that he manages to elicit some compassion for a character who is almost entirely unsympathetic. Rabe takes on the most difficult role, portraying a conflicted character who is so magnetic that everyone who reaches her orbit magnetically becomes trapped there, including a kind local cop who begins a relationship with her that seems to be solely for plot purposes.
The same can be said of a scene in which Emma accuses Pete of being in love with her despite the fact that there is no evidence to support her claim (but hey, he has secrets, too!). The eventual battle scene between Emma and John is so intense that it makes you fear for the future of the two actors’ real-life relationship.
In a potboiler sense, the first two parts of “Tell Me Your Secrets” are definitely entertaining, but it’s not obvious that the show’s creators will keep it up for ten episodes. The issue is that the script portrays something like a soap opera when it needs to be taken more seriously.