Lie With Me spins a soapy tale of emotional abuse and gaslighting

Warning: this article contains spoilers for episode one of Lie With Me, Channel 5’s new psychological thriller.

If you aren’t a fan of the football (or Love Island, we suppose), then there’s probably been very little for you to watch on TV over the past few weeks. Thankfully, though, things are slowly changing – and that all starts with Channel 5’s new psychological thriller, Lie With Me.

Comprising four episodes, the first instalment of the series dropped tonight at 9pm. And it began, of course, with police fishing a murder victim’s body from a swimming pool… but whose

Well, we know for sure it wasn’t enigmatic nanny Becky (Phoebe Roberts), as she soon finds herself being interrogated by police. We know an incriminating piece of silver jewellery was found on the corpse. And we know, too, that troubled Anna (Charlie Brooks) is mysteriously absent, as a woman we assume to be her mother laments telling Anna’s children where their mother really is.

Could it be, then, that our main character is dead from the get go? Or has someone else – say, for example, Anna’s husband, Jake (Brett Tucker) – met their maker?

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Undeniably soapy, Lie With Me is essentially a made-for-summer-TV hybrid of Gone Girl and Home & Away

That being said, though, there’s no denying that all of the show’s schlocky melodrama and juicy mystery makes for compelling viewing.

Who is the true villain of Channel 5’s Lie With Me, really?

In the first episode of Lie With Me, Anna and her husband, Jake, are still settling into their new life together in Australia. It’s clear that Anna is still troubled by some mysterious event that occurred in London – one which has left her feeling like “half a person” – but she’s slowly making changes; she’s welcomed a new nanny, Becky, into her home to care for her two young children while she resumes her career.

While Anna and Jake’s relationship seems surface-level perfect, however, it quickly becomes apparent that it’s all a front; they are constantly engaged in furious arguments, one of which results in Anna hurling a bottle of pills at her husband, missing, and smashing a window – much to Becky’s wide-eyed horror.

For a while, it seems as if the two women might become friends; Becky reaches out to a tearful Anna and learns that her employer believes Jake is cheating on her with his new PA. And, taking Becky’s advice, Anna decides to confront the other woman in her marriage… with disastrous results.

I understand how people can get trapped in those very toxic relationships; it happens far too often

That’s right; Anna’s suspicions are proven null and void, and she’s publicly humiliated when Jake is able to prove she has it wrong. Deeply apologetic, she blames her lapse on her medication and promises to never doubt Jake again. All’s well that ends well, right?

Wrong. Because, as the episode ends, we learn that Anna is 100% correct that Jake is having an affair; she was just wrong about who he’s been playing away with.

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Just before the credits roll, we witness a lingerie-clad Becky wrapping her arms around Jake and kissing him passionately. And, in a flashback scene, we hear him tell his lover: “I’ve got a plan; I’ll talk Anna into moving into Australia…

“We’ll give you a reason to move in while I work on getting full custody. You’ll see why we need to protect the kids from her. And we’ll grab moments when we can.”

Lie With Me unexpectedly shines a light on toxic relationships.

Essentially, we have a Hitchcockian tale of gaslighting and infidelity to unravel.

As Brooks explains: “Anna was definitely a strong businesswoman once upon a time, but it’s safe to say that she’s lost herself a little within her marriage. She has compromised who she is for her family and that comes with quite big consequences. She has also experienced heavy gaslighting within the marriage, but she’s a survivor.

Many people can relate to being in a relationship that isn’t healthy for them and finding the way out isn’t always easy

The actor adds: “I spoke to a friend of mine that emigrated to Australia about the real loneliness and isolation you can feel, even though you are surrounded by people. I also spoke to some friends that have experienced gaslighting within their relationships and made to feel like they’re going mad at some point.

“I have to say I’ve been fortunate in my own relationships and I’ve been really blessed with good people in my life, but I understand how people can get trapped in those very toxic relationships, it happens far too often. For Anna, she always feels on the backfoot and ends up questioning her ability to be a parent and her decisions, which is really dangerous territory.

“Ultimately, it’s the love for her children and the threat that they could be taken away from her that drives her to desperation.”

As discussed, Lie With Me feels simultaneously throwaway and engrossing – yet, despite this, it tackles several difficult topics, including emotional abuse and coercive control.

Executive producer Jason Herbison says: “I want the audience to be entertained but also think about some of the issues presented. Many people can relate to being in a relationship that isn’t healthy for them and finding the way out isn’t always easy.

Lie With Me takes the dilemma to extremes and I’d never want anyone in the audience to go that far, but there might be some lessons to be learned from it. Situations aren’t always as they seem and it’s always good to keep your eyes open in a relationship.”

Lie With Me continues on Tuesday 13 July at 9pm on Channel 5.

If you are worried that you might be the victim of emotional abuse, it’s quite likely that you are. If these signs of an abusive relationship sound all too familiar to you, then get out of that situation as soon as possible.

Visit womensaid.org.uk or call 0808-2000 247 for more information about coercive control, domestic abuse, and the help available for those affected.

Images: Channel 5

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