For its second season, ABC’s spring anthology series Secrets and Lies tracks the story of a newly married man and heir to an equity fortune whose wife is murdered. Like ABC’s other anthology series American Crime, Secrets and Lies focuses on a single case per season, the difference being that S&L is always set in the same universe. The continuity between seasons one and two is Juliette Lewis’ Detective Andrea Cornell, tasked with investigating the murder.
As the anchor of the drama, Cornell is naturally going to have the most development over the long run. So it’s not surprising that a lot of the questions lobbed at the show’s TCA panel this afternoon – attended by Lewis along with series creator Barbie Kligman, Co-Executive Producer Aaron Kaplan, as well as co-stars Charlie Barnett, Kenny Johnson, Michael Ealy, Terry O’quinn, Jordana Brewster, and Mekia Cox – focused heavily on that character.
Asked if the character is facing pressure to close cases no matter what, regardless of whether or not she gets the right culprit, Lewis was firm “There is pressure for her to do right,” she said. Kligman concurred. “It would not bode well if our star detective didn’t get the bad guy every season,” she said. “But no, there’s tremendous pressure and a very good detective and she will find justice.”
In the previous season, Cornell was not necessarily the series protagonist, but asked if that’s changed for the second season, Kligman says yes, though she clarified that some of the perception about the character was due to how the series didn’t go into her point of view until late in season one. “Throughout the arc of last season… primarily the point of view was that of Ben Crawford (Ryan Phillipe). Whatever Cornell was doing would seem even more irritating because it was seen through his guilt or worry,” Kligman said. In season two however, the split in POV happens much earlier, allowing audiences to see her side of things more clearly.
Asked why the show is set in Charlotte, North Carolina, Kligman says the city was always in the cards because it’s where Detective Cornell works. However, the decision to make the case revolve around wealthy financiers was influenced by the location. “It’s the second largest after New York for banking,” she says.
Asked about the racial makeup of the family, and whether or not it was intended to comment on the current controversy surrounding police violence against minorities, Kligman says it isn’t. “I know there are shows that cover races and ethnicity and socioeconomic strife,” she said, “but this show for me has always been about the things that are universal to all of us. It was about a family… I felt it was an interesting choice to go with a white father and a black mother…
“I don’t think this show has to be about that in this particular case, this is a man, he may be a black man but he’s man whose wife is dead. He’s the prime suspect because 90% of the time that’s who did it… The story I wanted to tell was a mystery thriller, this is about people, not specific people.” She concluded.