TV Critic Dominic Lyons reviews Channel 4's latest dark comedy The End of the F***ing WorldWritten by Redbrick on 21st November 2017
Liar – Series Finale Review
SPOILER WARNING: TV Critic Callum Gurr gives a comprehensive breakdown of the ITV drama Liar
Liar, a psycho-sexual ‘whodunit’ style thriller, reached its conclusion on Monday night (16th October) on ITV 1. The drama centred around Laura (Joanne Frogatt), a schoolteacher who, having recently split up from her long-term boyfriend Tom (Warren Brown), goes on a date with dashing surgeon Andrew (Ioan Gruffudd). The date ends with the pair sleeping together, but they both recollect events rather differently. Laura alleges that Andrew had sex with her without her consent, whilst Andrew asserts that Laura did consent.
“Too often it felt like the narrative was trying to elongate what should have been a 4 episode, 1 series drama
The first three episodes of the series, which were its better episodes, concerned themselves with coming to the truth of the matter, with the end of Episode 3 revealing that Andrew is the ‘liar’ that the title promises. The decision to reveal who was lying midway through its 6 episode run seemed strange at the time, but with the benefit of hindsight it was probably a wise decision, both for its real world and fictional implications. For the real world revealing Andrew as the ‘liar’ and giving his character a ‘volte-face’ helps to reinforce the idea that appearances can deceive and can perhaps curtail some of the victim-blaming that surrounds sexual assault allegations. In the fictional world it gave us 3 episodes to learn to hate Andrew and set up for nicely for the series conclusion.
The final three episodes centred around revealing the truth about the seemingly nice surgeon Andrew, with it becoming apparent that Laura’s ordeal was no isolated event, nor was she the surgeon’s final victim. The series closed with Andrew getting something like what he deserved with the camera panning in to reveal his dead body lying on the surreal marshes that the series opened on. Of course, the irony of this ending is that the truth of Andrew’s crimes had already been exposed by Laura scenes before that, with recordings of his assault of 17 different women being given to the police.
“Overall, this was a plucky drama that went a few gimmicks too far
This sets Liar up for a second series nicely, centred around the ‘liar’ who murdered the surgeon. However, I feel this was partly the problem with this bold drama. Too often it felt like the narrative was trying to elongate what should have been a 4 episode, 1 series drama. The added twists and turns along the way, like Andrew’s break in and sexual assault of detective Vanessa and Laura’s drugging and kidnapping of Andrew were unnecessary gimmicks that took away from what was a really chilling central premise.
Moreover, the profound change in Andrew’s character, from a man who was horrified that Laura’s old boss indeed had sexually assaulted her and the puppy-dog eyed, seemingly in-love romantic the morning after the drug rape, just didn’t seem to ring true to the story producers Harry and Jack Williams were trying to tell. Perhaps I am just too naive, because I just failed to comprehend that a man who drugs and raped a woman could actually believe that constituted an ‘amazing night’ for his victim. It felt like the writers missed an opportunity to emphasise crucial points surrounding consent in opting for Andrew to have drugged Laura and his other victims.
Overall, this was a plucky drama that went a few gimmicks too far. What could have been a great thriller that told a story of the increasingly salient issue of sexual consent became a sensationalised and Hollywood-style drama. That is not to say I won’t be watching series 2 or that series 1 was inherently bad, it’s just it was not as powerful as it could and should have been.