Binge Watch Alert : ‘Lie to Me’

Ryan Aday

Binge Watch Alert is a virtually spoiler-free look back at shows you may have missed that are currently available on a major streaming service. Today we take a look at Lie to Me which ran for three seasons on FOX and is available to stream on Netflix.

High stakes poker is televised nationally, and we have entire networks dedicated to court cases. In an era of figuring out who is telling the truth, a show about the science of detecting lies merits consideration. Add Quentin Tarantino favorite Tim Roth and a successful series appears imminent. The FOX show Lie to Me had the makings of a hit for a network famous for drama ups and downs.

What Is Lie to Me About?

Dr. Cal Lightman (Roth) started his firm, The Lightman Group, where he uses his amazing science of deduction. The group acts as a private contractor in investigations for local law enforcement, military, and private citizens. His character is based on Paul Ekman, a leader in the field of emotions and how they effect facial expressions. These facial clues, known as micro-expressions, determine whether or not someone is telling the truth.

The main focus of the Lightman group stems from Lightman’s research into micro-expressions. These are involuntary facial expression that an untrained eye cannot notice. They usually last less than 1/15 of a second. Consequently, the team often must film their subjects, and they can only see the micro-expressions at extremely slow speeds. In the show, these are viewed as tell-tale signs that someone is lying. In reality, the micro-expressions convey emotions such as disgust, happiness, fear, and surprise. Those emotions might indicate someone’s attitude but are not always indicative of the truth.


Lightman’s main partner is Dr. Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams). Lightman and Foster have known each other for a long time and work together well. Lightman is a bit of a wild card; his actions are often off-putting to the clients. His only desire it to get to the truth. Foster, on the other hand, has a professional demeanor. She may not be as talented as Lightman, but she is vital to the success of the group.

Other members of the Lightman Group, Eli Loker (Brendan Hines) and Ria Torres (Monica Raymund) work hand-in-hand with Foster and Lightman. Lightman recruited Torres from TSA after seeing her abilities in person. Loker studied micro-expression and the science of lies and has loads of talent but needs refinement. They are often paired with either Lightman or Foster and two cases are simultaneously investigated during a given episode.

Roth heads a small, yet talented cast in this crime drama

Lightman’s daughter, Emily (Hayley McFarland), makes many appearances in the program. FBI Agent Ben Reynolds (Mekhi Phifer) becomes a recurring character who acts as a liaison to the Lightman group. Also, Jennifer Beals plays Zoe Landau, Lightman’s ex-wife. She serves as Assistant Attorney General and uses the Lightman Group to assist with one of her big cases.

A Fan and Critic Favorite

Lie to Me earned several high marks from fans and critics. Season one received a 67% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, and the show earned an 88% audience score. Tom Shales of The Washington Post commented:

Lie to Me seems an unusually meaty, thoughtful and thought-provoking crime drama – another police procedural, yes, but one with a dramatic and mesmerizing difference… easily one of the season’s best new shows.”

The premiere of Lie to Me attracted over 12 million people and that same year the show won an Emmy for its main title sequence:

In 2011, Lie to Me won People’s Choice Awards for Best TV Drama and Best TV Crime Fighter.

Your Binge Watch Plan

The three season of Lie to Me consists of 48 episodes with a total running time of approximately 2,300 minutes. Each episode involves self-contained individual cases, but many of the shows have themes that carry over throughout the season. There aren’t enough big cliffhangers to warrant watching seven or eight hours at a time, so viewers will be more likely inclined to watch two or three per sitting. This plan would result in a viewer needing a 3-4 week block to complete the entire series.

Need more shows to binge watch? Check out our Binge Watch Alert series and add these to your watch-list.

Ryan Aday
Ryan is a former college athlete with a degree in Communication from Point Loma University. He is also a 5-time Game Show Contestant (Incl. Wheel of Fortune) and decorated fantasy football player (Fantasy Football Evolution National Champion Runner-Up). Mr. Aday is kind to animals.
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