‘The Lying Game’ Series Premiere: An Honest To Goodness Hit In The Making

If you thought Rosewood deserved the title “Most Deceptive Town in America,” you obviously haven’t visited Phoenix, Arizona, lately—the setting for author Sara Shepard’s second small screen adaptation, “The Lying Game,” which premiered last night on ABC Family.

Separated-at-birth twins Sutton and Emma (played by Alexandra Chando, who reminds me of a charming cross between Nina Dobrev and JoAnna Garcia) couldn’t have had more different upbringings. Sutton’s lived a life of privilege thanks to her well-off adoptive family the Mercers, yet she still yearns to unravel the mystery of her birth parents’ true identities. Which is how she stumbles upon long-lost sister Emma, who’s spent the majority of her childhood bouncing around the foster care system and currently lives with a Peeping Tom foster sibling and an unstable foster mother. But when pervy faux-bro sets her up to take the fall for petty larceny, Emma hops the next bus to Phoenix to reunite with the only real family she has—sister Sutton.

Except Sutton’s got a plan of her own. She has a lead on their birth parents—in L.A, no less—and wants to switch places with Emma for two days so she can investigate without her parents knowing. No big deal, right? Yeah…riiiiiiiight.

Sure, the navigation system in Sutton’s BMW takes Emma right to the Mercer’s front door (“You have arrived,” indeed!), but she struggles to open it once she gets there (metaphor alert!). Not to mention, she has a pretty sizable posse to contend with (i.e. fool) for the next 48 hours. For starters, there’s Sutton’s family: mom, dad and sister Laurel, who chock up Emma/Sutton’s preternaturally pleasant demeanor to their recent return from a Parisian holiday. (Nutella-filled crepes will do that to anybody!) Then there’s Sutton’s boyfriend, Luke, who’s been sensing Sutton’s unease with their relationship. (It doesn’t help that her first day back from Paris, Sutton ditches the BF for her BFFs.) And speaking of BFFs, there’s Char (played by “Eclipse” actress Kirsten Prout) and Madeline, who don’t seem to notice too much of a change. The only one who does? Mystery boy Ethan (played by “90210” bad boy Blair Redford) who shoots Emma/Sutton meaningful glances all over school.

Except, this being a sudsy series called “The Lying Game,” things aren’t quite as they appear. Boyfriend Luke spent the summer macking on Sutton’s arch tennis nemesis Nesha and, well, actually, Luke isn’t really Sutton’s boyfriend at all. Hottie Ethan is the boy who owns Sutton’s heart, and he quickly discovers after one clandestine kiss with Emma that she’s not Sutton. But Emma won’t relinquish the ruse easily; she swears she’s Sutton and storms off to the Mercer’s cabin to meet her sis to undo the switcheroo. But instead of Sutton, Ethan shows up, and Emma finally decides to spill her dirty little secret to him.

With Sutton missing, Ethan insists Emma keep up the lie to protect Sutton. But the twins are already in danger. In Phoenix, someone breaks into Sutton’s room, stealing her computer. In L.A., someone’s getting into Sutton’s car, and if her terrified screams are any indication, she/he is up to no good.

What will become of Sutton? We’ll be tuning in next week to find out—and that’s not a lie.