similar show showdown: the lying game vs ringer

[Editor’s Note: Article first published as Similar Show Showdown: The Lying Game vs Ringer on Technorati. -Nicole ]

Two shows. Two sets of twins. Two actresses (both playing their own twin). Two mysteries. Two love affiars. Ok…you get the point.

The Lying Game is the Sarah Michelle Gellar-less, teen version of Ringer. Both shows center on one twin who takes over her twin’s life when she goes missing. If that sounds confusing, it’s only because I’m talking about two shows with similar plots and is no way indicative of the depth of either show’s respective plot.

I tuned into Lying Game by accident (I watch most of those ABC Family shows and they have mastered the art of showing awesome promos. The show looked cool…I was defenseless). I waited obsessively patiently for Ringer to premiere as soon as I heard Buffy was back. I’ve been doing an unintentional compare/contrast on these shows for weeks, so here goes:

The Lying Game Overview:

Who: Emma Becker (the “good twin”) and Sutton Mercer (the “bad twin”) played by Alexandra Chando.

What: Emma is a foster child and her twin sister Sutton is a rich bitch who finds her. Sutton convinces Emma to visit and take over her life while she goes off in search of their biological mother. Emma doesn’t realize Sutton has tons of secrets, but she eventually fits into Sutton’s world…a little smoother than her twin planned for.

Why (I love it): The show had a very awkward first episode, but by the time the second week concluded, I was genuinely interested in the characters and the big mystery. Lying Game does a great job of balancing plot twists with relevant story lines. Emma becomes Sutton, but with heart. You can watch this show and not feel like you’ll see every little thing coming. Also…Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli on Heroes) and Blair Redford (Miguel Lopez-Fitzgerald on Passions) are fun to look at and remind me of shows I used to love.

Why (I hate it): Overall, there’s not a lot to hate. Some of the steamier parts of the show are stifled because it comes on ABC Family, but that’s hardly a gripe about the show itself.

Ringer Overview:

Who: Bridget Kelly (the “good/troubled twin”) and Siobhan Martin (the “bad twin”) played by Sarah Michelle Gellar.

What: Bridget and Siobhan have been estranged for six years, but after witnessing a murder, Bridget runs to her sister’s home. The two are rekindling their relationship when Siobhan disappears. Bridget is on the run from her past, so she takes over Siobhan’s life, secrets and all.

Why (I love it):Buffy is back. I get to see Sarah Michelle Gellar again, which is always great. The show promises a lot of character development and has a film noir thing going on. Siobhan’s husband Andrew and stepdaughter Juliet could be interesting, but I’ll need to see them more outside of Siobhan’s world to confirm that. There are a lot of mysteries that have potential to interconnect and as we learned with the pilot, nothing is exactly what it seems with this show. Also… Kristoffer Polaha (Baze on Life Unexpected) is a really underrated actor and the newly introduced Jason Dohring (Logan Echolls on Veronica Mars) never disappoints (officially tied with Lying Game on the nostalgia and ‘guys that are fun to look at’ fronts).

Why (I hate it): Buffy is NOT back. Neither Siobhan nor Bridget has even a tenth of the personality of Buffy Summers. The plot moves v e r y s l o w l y and I’m nervous that there will be little pay off. We don’t know why [SPOILER ALERT] Siobhan faked her death or why the mob is so insistent on finding Bridget. I want the show to find a rhythm, but I think the recurring theme is less film noir and more tricky promos followed by ‘bleh’ episodes.

Overall Verdict:

The Lying Game just wrapped up the first half of the season with ten episodes and has an unfair advantage over Ringer, which just aired its sixth episode last night. Both shows center on twins that have a lot to lose if they’re caught. The stakes are higher on Ringer, but the suspense level on Lying Game far surpasses the former’s promised excitement.

Taking that into account, I’d still have to say I prefer the less-adult twin mystery, Lying Game. Both shows underutilize their supporting cast, but Ringer makes EVERYTHING center around the twins (mainly Siobhan). Lying Game isn’t completely innocent of doing the same thing, they just do it better, putting mysteries inside of mysteries and heightening the “What the heck is going on?!” factor.

Lying Game also has better “twins”. I can’t decide if that’s because of the acting or the way each set of twins is written, but regardless Ringer’s Bridget doesn’t have the type of personality that viewers invest in for season after season. It hurts me to prefer a show on a network that birthed State of Georgia over one that brought SMG back into my life. I may revisit this when both shows have wrapped their first season…but for now Lying Game is the winner.

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