Given the raw issues at the heart of Liar, whatever route the show followed, whatever conclusion it landed upon, it was always going to be divisive to some. You can’t please all the people especially when a section of the public still, as the credits rolled, believed Andrew Earlham could still be proved innocent. On the very day the ‘Me Too’ hashtag (a way for women to communicate they’d been victims of sexual abuse and harassment) was storming Twitter, the grim reality of Liar’s message could not have been laid more bare. The scale of a societal problem mostly unspoken covered unsuspecting timelines and with Liar, issues not usually given such public attention flickered out of eight million televisions and laptops.
Did it convey the message it was trying to get across well enough? Mostly, yes. It covered the issue of victims living in fear and embarrassment for the actions of someone else, and showed they blamed themselves partly because the legal system and general public perceptions put those doubts into them. It showed a limp justice system that was yet another barrier to women coming forward. There has been the argument that the women in Liar were all weak but being battered by a system designed to keep their voices unheard means they’re more tired than weak. Yes, they could all have organised together, spoke up as one and put Andrew away but this is television. While it would be a satisfactory ending of sorts, it wouldn’t be an exciting one. They must have wanted Laura to stand on her own as a main character, to be the odd one out and the one that stood up to her oppressor. They referenced her stubbornness and failure to back down a few times as Andrew himself told her “you’re different”. In a her versus him scenario, and that is what the series was set up as, it makes perfect sense that Laura challenged him as an individual, even when friends and family were telling her to move on.
Just one look through the Twitter comments on Liar suggests there are many who didn’t understand these simple messages. They didn’t trust Laura despite all the evidence staring everyone in the face because she wasn’t a very likeable character. To an extent she wasn’t very endearing but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be sympathy for what she was going through. At the other end of the scale, Andrew’s charm was always enough to convince some of his innocence despite being shown drugging his targets and filming his crimes. What show are these people watching?! It’s the personification of rape culture and exactly why women stay silent. It’s why Earlham’s past victims never came forward in the first place. If you voiced total disregard for Laura’s plight and sympathised with the attacker you are contributing to rape culture. You are building further barriers for truth to break through.
Liar was by no means perfect. The heightened reality element of the break ins and abductions maybe took away from the ultimate message but to wait six episodes to reveal the culprit would have tiresome so the show needed to go in different directions. On the surface, secondary story lines involving cheating exes and sisters felt a little incidental to the series and in a way they were – to series one. Without us even knowing the writers were expertly plotting the arc for the second run right under our noses. They’ve built up an impressive list of potential murderers while we were preoccupied with bringing Andrew Earlham to justice. The candidates are:
- Laura: After fighting so hard for justice it would seem hard to believe she’d take the law THIS far into her own hands. But she might have been pushed to far by a failed third attempt to get him locked up.
- Katy: Could she have killed Andrew as a perverse way of getting back in her sister’s good books? She’s lost her sibling and her fella so might feel she doesn’t have much to lose.
- Tom: Hates Andrew for being partly responsible for losing his job, hates Andrew for raping Laura (fair enough on that one) and clearly one who doesn’t like playing by the rules. A big contender.
- Luke: Luke had become increasingly frustrated by his dad and looked sketchy as hell when the cops showed up. Does he resent being an alibi in the Laura case and most of all, does he blame Andrew for his mum’s death. Now he really does have an alibi.
- “G.I Jennifer”: She certainly has the skills to dispatch a man’s body somewhere and her hatred for what he did to Vanessa is clearing tearing her up.
- Vanessa: Unlikely as she plays so by the rulebook as a cop. The same can be said for colleague Rory.
- Ian: Why not? His relationship with Laura may be blossoming and seeing effects of the trauma Andrew had on her might trigger an inner madman.
- Mia: Did she know what was in the shed all along? Does that shed also contain suitable murder equipment?
Or maybe more than one person? A joining of forces? Mix any of the above.
It can be long debated about whether the murder of a rapist is a satisfactory ending but it has certainly been a big talking point. Many have stated how Liar bears no similarities whatsoever to Broadchurch but everything from it’s seaside set Nordic Noir style to the plots prove the comparisons are more than worthy. It’s just doing things the other way round. A rape case in series one rather than the third, a murder whodunnit in the second rather than the first. By all accounts the next run of Liar will be the last which at least slims the chances of iffy courtroom nonsense. In switching the default setting let’s hope Liar doesn’t lose sense of all the important issues it has tried and sometimes succeeded in getting across. It’s a big ask and even even bigger wait as the eta is late 2019. Does it need a second series? Absolutely not. Will the country be watching? Almost certainly.
Lair’s second series is expected in 2019 on ITV.