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Whether it’s the upcoming FX series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story or veteran drama Scandal, TV hasn’t shied away from addressing the Black Lives Matter movement that has dominated the news cycle for a good part of the last year.
But don’t expect the upcoming second season of Secrets and Lies to join that bandwagon.
The new season of ABC’s anthology series centers on an African-American man (Michael Ealy) suspected of murdering his wife (Jordana Brewster). However, executive producer Barbie Kligman said the series won’t address the recent tensions between African-Americans and police officers.
“I don’t think that this show has to be about that. In this particular case, this is a man. He may be a black man, but he’s a man and his wife is dead and he’s the prime suspect because, most of the time, the husband did it,” she told reporters Saturday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour.
“I suppose if we had done 20 episodes, I suppose if it was a different show, I might have made it more about one thing or another, but the story I wanted to tell was mystery-thriller and it’s just about people.”
Part of the decision to present a case free of racial implications was to cast a Caucasian actor, Terry O’Quinn, as the father of Ealy’s character. “This show, for me, has always just been about the things that are universal to all of us. It was about family. I didn’t want it to be about a white family or a black family or an Asian family,” she said. “There was enough to mine within a family without going down the road of racial issues.”
This upcoming season of Secrets and Lies introduces an entire new cast of characters with the exception of Detective Andrea Cornell (Juliette Lewis) and her immediate family. The series, again, veers from many other anthology series like American Horror Story and ABC’s American Crime in that Lewis is one of the few actors who returns for season two.
Executive producer Aaron Kaplan said “it was never a conversation” to bring back any other actors from season one.
“For one thing, [creator John] Ridley was already doing that. We’re both on ABC and that’s what he’s doing with American Crime,” Kligman said. “One of the things that makes this show great every season is new characters and a new story. … You can pretty much do anything you want with them. So Ryan [Phillippe] had only signed up for one season and we always knew it would end with that and we’d start fresh.”
Although Lewis’ character still resides in Charlotte where the season one case was based, there won’t be any major references to the previous crime. “We had toyed with the idea,” Kligman said. “But in general there’s something that happens when you’re on the ride with the story to then go in a tangential direction about something from last season, we’d thought it wouldn’t really work. It would take your eyes off the prize.”
However, Detective Cornell will feel extra heat from her office after the mistakes she made on the job in season one. “Obviously it wouldn’t bode well for the show if every season our star detective did not get the person who committed the murder. There’s tremendous pressure. She’s a very good detective and she will find justice,” Kligman said. “In season two, we split point of view as early as episode four and we get to see the pressure Detective Cornell experiences in her own environment as she tries to solve the case.”
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