Ordinary Lies is a BBC drama now in its second series made up of interconnecting stories about colleagues in a workplace who all have dark secrets set to be revealed. Series 1 starred Max Beesley in a car dealership in Warrington and series 2 is set in a Sports Direct style clothing company warehouse in Cardiff.
Episode 2 looked most interesting, as it deals with very topical issues of catfishing and editing your life to show they very best bits only on social media. It’s all an illusion because real life is so boring.
This is bright and funky drama, and feels very daytime like it should be in an early afternoon Doctors slot. Not a bad thing, just a sightly unusual tone for a drama broadcast at 9pm. Although I feel I must complain about one thing – the unrealistic sunshine. This is not usually available in South Wales, even at the height of summer.
Ordinary Lies is light even though it deals with dark subjects. Maybe this is why it has a lot of comedy actors in it. I spotted faces from Trollied (Joel Fry, an excellent comedy character also famous for witty banter with the Khaleesi on Game of Thrones) and Raised by Wolves (the fabulous Rebekah Staton).
Holly (Kimberly Nixon) is lonely and feels unsuccessful as PA to the company manager Jenna ( BBC drama stalwart Angela Griffin). She has a sad little car, a mean mother and a casual work fling that’s going nowhere with uninspiring forklift driver Neil.
Her successful ex-boyfriend Adam (John MacMillan) turns up. She’s been pining for him and she decides to try to get him back, by fair means or foul. Using info from his social media accounts she stalks him to his office and then to the supermarket. She restyles her social media account (the white and blue website that the BBC uses is at pains to distance itself from Facebook just enough so they don’t have to pay any royalties). She steals holiday and car photos and pretends to have a more glamorous life. She’s filling up those dull and empty seven years since she and Adam split up and upgrading her life. After years of watching MTV’s Catfish I know the pitfalls. You don’t change your own account! That’s such a schoolboy error. You have to create a new one. Otherwise all your real friends will be saying “Erm, why is Holly putting up photos of a fake holiday to Bali, a place she’s never been to and can’t even point to on a map?”
I think we’re all on a spectrum when it comes to this sort of activity. Everyone edits the photos they take in their living room to remove the mess of old magazines, and you might touch up a big red spot on a selfie. You take photos of romantic sunsets on holiday, not the sewage in the alley next to your bargain basement hotel. That’s just how people deal with their everyday lives. No one shows off about the bad stuff (unless you’re a miserable wierdo who craves attention from your followers “You alright hun?”). So we can all understand Holly’s motivations. She snoops around her boss’s fabulous apartment but she oversteps the line by wearing her clothes. Ewww. And then pretending she lives there – cooking in the kitchen and sleeping in her bed. This didn’t end well for Goldilocks and it won’t end well for Holly either.
Holly can’t quit real life to focus on her new story, so she has to live an uncomfortable balancing act between real life at work, with her Mum, and out with her colleagues, and her fabulous fake new life. Despite her scheming, Holly is still a wide-eyed innocent. She’s buckling under the pressure almost from the start of her dirty deeds.
While Jenna is away Holly is busy stealing her name, her invite to a swanky industry dinner, her house and her car. What’s her end game? What’s the point in Adam if he doesn’t like Holly for who she really is? It turns out they’re both keeping hurtful secrets from each other, and the whole episode ends in tragedy.Poor Holly finds out Adam has a secret child and then admitting to an abortion that she deeply regrets. To add injury to insult, Jenna’s beloved pet cat ends up smushed in the front door. Don’t slam doors when squishy pets are around!
And yet, it seems Holly and Adam’s weird relationship has legs. They’re not giving up on each other yet, when I think it’d probably be much healthier for them both to go their separate ways. Imagine if they stay together how many people they could alienate and how many pets they could injure? It’s terrifying!
Ordinary Lies is on BBC1 on Tuesdays at 9pm. It’s also available for catch up on iPlayer now.