(Photo Credit: Amazon Studios)
‘Tell Me Your Secrets’ Has Some More Work to Do
Last decade, and probably this decade, will go down as the era with the best serial dramas in television history.
From “Scandal” to “Power” to “Game of Thrones,” Hollywood seemingly produced a show for every type of audience imaginable.
Unfortunately, that competition makes it harder for dramas to find an audience, and Amazon Prime Video’s “Tell Me Your Secrets” does not do enough, at first glance, to distinguish itself from a crowded field of great television shows.
“Tell Me Your Secrets” has a good plot.
However, the plot does not deliver enough to separate itself from the competition.
“Tell Me Your Secrets” begins after Theresa disappears.
After seven long years, Theresa’s mother still holds out hope that her daughter is alive; even though other relatives worry that she will drive herself crazy obsessing over her missing daughter’s fate.
But there is little doubt that Parker, a convicted serial killer, had something to do with Theresa’s mysterious disappearance.
Parker is viewed as such a threat that his former girlfriend is given a new identity and transported to St. James, La. to distance herself from her violent ex-lover and their time in Texas.
Karen is placed in a witness protection program and renamed Emma so that Parker will not be able to track her down.
Emma is told not to fraternize with the locals, especially young girls, because of what happened to Theresa years earlier.
But a movie or a television series would not be a movie or a television series if the characters did exactly as they were told.
Obviously, Emma carries a lot of baggage from her past that has not totally gotten unpacked.
Therefore, when she sees a teenage girl getting bullied in the bathroom of a local Louisiana eatery, she gets involved in the situation even though she is supposed to stay away from young people.
The young girl Jess has endured a tumultuous life for someone so young.
She lives in a group home and does not really fit in with the people around her.
Jess has become just a punching bag taking physical and emotional abuse from her peers.
Emma takes an immediate liking to Jess, after also taking a job at a hair salon.
The problem with making friends when you are in the witness protection program is that you might slip and let your past out of the bag.
Or, the person that becomes your friend might not be just innocently looking for someone to hang out with.
That person might have ulterior motives.
Furthermore, the person in the witness protection program might put the innocent person in danger if their past finds a way to catch up with them.
Therefore, a person in the witness protection program has to know who to let in and who to distance themselves from.
The recently released ex-convict is even instructed to write a letter to Parker in jail as some sort of closure from their turbulent past.
But, in order for Emma to totally move on from her past, she has to rid herself of Parker and everything he meant in her life.
However, the biggest problem with that is that she still loves him.
Parker might have killed innocent people for no reason.
But like many serial killers, such as Ted Bundy, Parker kept that part of his life separate from Emma, showing her a more loving and normal side of his personality.
Some serial killers have a unique way of compartmentalizing their murderous ways, killing by night and acting like a seemingly good family person by day.
While “Tell Me Your Secrets” has a decent premise, it does not appear to have any standout performances as of yet.
What differentiates movies from a television series is that a series often has more time to correct its errors if granted more than one season on the small screen.
Movies have up to two hours to impress audiences, then that is all she wrote.
On the contrary, a television series can take off slowly, but then find its way.
Therefore, “Tell Me Your Secrets” could receive the benefit of the doubt, initially.
However, the actors on “Tell Me Your Secrets” have to step it up if the program has a chance of finding a dedicated cult-like audience, which seems necessary for shows to survive in today’s crowded television market.
Actress Lily Rabe who stars as Karen/Emma told “Entertainment Weekly” that she almost did not take the job in “Tell Me Your Secrets” because she had just had a baby.
About her character, Rabe said, “She’s been in prison, and she has to take her first steps into the world as this completely new person. I don’t want to give too much away but it was so wonderful playing both women.
“Karen is someone who had such a wide open heart. Then, because of what she’s been through, [she becomes] someone who’s afraid of absolutely everyone and she feels as though she will never feel another moment of safety again in her life.”
In “Tell Me Your Secrets,” Rabe plays Karen via flashbacks.
Because of circumstances, both characters have vastly different personalities.
Rabe added, “I’m someone who loves a thriller, I love a mystery, and so many of them are from the U.K. The script hit a very sweet spot for me as a reader.”
But in order for “Tell Me Your Secrets” to win, the show has to find a sweet spot with viewers in order to find success in the new era of television.
“Tell Me Your Secrets” hits Amazon Prime Video on Feb. 19.