Tell Me Your Secrets season 1 review – this thriller series has a character problem A daughter who has disappeared in a dark world.

February 19, 2021
Daniel Hart 2
Amazon Prime, TV Reviews
2.5

Summary

Do you know when children roleplay with their friends, and it gets silly? Tell Me Your Secrets becomes that.

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2.5

Summary

Do you know when children roleplay with their friends, and it gets silly? Tell Me Your Secrets becomes that.

This review of Amazon Original Tell Me Your Secrets season 1 contains no spoilers. The thriller will be released on the streaming service on February 19, 2021.

No matter how juicy the prospect of a plot is, especially in a thriller, there’s always that danger of muddling the story to an exhausting degree. Amazon’s Tell Me Your Secrets has absolutely everything to be the next talked-about series, but it’s uniquely let down by directing the core story into a corner. Ironically, the series was meant to be a weekly network instalment, but it was given the straight-to-binge delivery model when Amazon got their hands on it. While bingeing, it was easy to understand why the weekly format would have worked — it’s full of twists and outrageous cliffhangers.

The story follows a grieving mother, Mary Barlow, who is desperate to find her daughter, Theresa, who was seen with a known serial killer (Kit Parker) moments before she disappeared. In her desperation, she hires reformed rapist John Tyler to find answers. On the flip side of the story, you have Karen Miller (with the alias name of Emma) who has been relocated due to a witness protection program — she was the lover of Kit Parker, and the courts and the public have judged her to be complicit in the murder of multiple women.

But do you know when children roleplay with their friends, and it gets silly? Tell Me Your Secrets becomes that. Rather than stick to the issue, it plays this theme of “who is a monster?”. By beating that drum too aggressively, the story forces characters to undermine their traits at an absurd level. It feels unrealistic when you apply the context of the story. There’s an understanding that humans are flawed; we all have our DNA, but there’s a limit to how much we betray who we really are when we look in the mirror in the morning. And from a character development perspective, that isn’t easy to gauge.

It also breaks the rules somewhat; there’s nothing wrong with a twist, but the audience must have some inkling of an idea of how a character may react to a particular scenario. Amazon’s Tell Me Your Secrets defies belief that characters can stick to a familiar route and pushes them against different doors as if it were naturalistic — Season 1 is highly character-based, so there’s a writing problem here.

That’s not to say the characters are not interesting; Mary (played by Amy Brenneman) is particularly interesting because the audience’s first port of call is to find sympathy for her, and will feel oddly confused as to why they do not feel that once the series moves through the first few episodes. We then have the other leading character, Emma/Karen (played by Lily Rabe), a more tentative character and the most consistent in sticking to a particular personality, which is ironic, given her circumstances. Emma’s scenes are the most engaging; you want her to find answers more than the grieving mother.

What audiences will find with Tell Me Your Secrets is a persistent message, theorizing what a monster is — that’s one element that has this series going for a potential second season.

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2 thoughts on “Tell Me Your Secrets season 1 review – this thriller series has a character problem

  • February 19, 2021 at 3:02 pm
    Permalink

    Will all 10 episodes be released today for Season One? Or will it be a weekly release??

    • February 19, 2021 at 3:02 pm
      Permalink

      All released today.

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