‘Deception’: Deceptively Intriguing

A new crime investigation show, Deception, premiered on NBC last night, and while the premise seems intriguing enough, I’m not sure how sustainable it will be.

After the scandal of a young socialite’s death, the intrigue of this show centers around the dark secrets of her distinguished family and the tense, complex relationships between them. Deception then deceives us into thinking it is a show about solving a murder, hooking the viewer with a “whodunit”-type mystery, but in fact reveals itself to be more about the characters—exploring their relationships and inner struggles. While the members of this wealthy family could very easily come off as one-dimensional, the secrets they hide give these archetypal rich snobs a certain depth that makes them both intriguing and believable.

However, if the pilot is any indication as to the style of the show, most of the action seems to happen in the past. As secrets continue to be uncovered and as memories begin to resurface, flashbacks are (almost over-)used to help illustrate them. In the present, then, we find the characters spending most of their time simply talking about the past. Granted, as a pilot this episode does have to deal with a lot of exposition, but, especially seeing as this show is so character-driven, it would be all too easy to let action fall by the wayside. To be sure, a lot of action is not necessarily vital to maintaining interest if the characters are compelling enough, as they seem to potentially be, but a focus on the past can keep the story from moving forward.

The pilot then begs the question: where can you go with this? The complex relationships and the many skeletons in the Bowers family closet will certainly provide enough material to last at least until the end of the season, but at some point the murder will have to be solved, thus ending the investigation. While the family’s laundry list of secrets certainly appears to be never-ending, it is doubtful that they could carry the show through multiple seasons. If Deception hopes to have a long life, then, it will have to do more. Especially if it stays mired in the past and the secrets to be found there, the series won’t be able to move into the future.

Did you catch the premiere? Tell me what you thought.

Meagan Good Goes Undercover in ‘Deception’
Liz Medendorp @ PopMatters

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It opens like a standard crime investigation show: late at night, a shadowy figure follows a young woman to her car; by morning, she’s dead. But Deception isn’t just another crime procedural, as it seems to be. Instead, it’s another investigation of the dark secrets of the wealthy, who have a lot to hide.”

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