‘Tell Me Your Secrets’ EPs on How the TNT Thriller Reflects Today’s Society

Turner Upfront 2018 Arrivals
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Turner

Can people change? Or are we forever damaged by events from our past?

Those are the fundamental questions that run through TNT’s new thriller series, Tell Me Your Secrets, from executive producers Harriet Warner (Call the Midwife) and Bruna Papandrea (Big Little Lies).

Tell Me Your Secrets follows a “trio of characters each with a mysterious and troubling past, including Emma (Lily Rabe), a young woman who once looked into the eyes of a dangerous killer, John (Hamish Linklater), a former serial predator desperate to find redemption and Mary (Amy Brenneman), a grieving mother obsessed with finding her missing daughter,” according to a press release.

“As each of them is pushed to the edge, the truth about their pasts and motives grows ever murkier, blurring the lines between victim and perpetrator.”

At the 2018 Turner upfront presentation on May 16 in New York City, TV Insider spoke with the show’s EPs about how they feel audiences will react to the series.

“It’s a suspense thriller. It’s really about our central characters reinventing themselves, having all experienced very dramatic events in their past,” said Warner. “[It’s about] finding out if they can move away from those pasts or if our natures are fixed.”

“[The show] is quite reflective of society today,” added Papandrea. “It’s no longer famous people putting their lives out there, it’s everyone. We’re all creating facades. You’re left wondering what’s the real truth behind Instagram? The real truth behind Facebook?”

“I think there’s something in the psyche at the moment that’s really craving connection, understanding, and truth. That’s certainly where our characters are going. They’re trying to connect with the truth about themselves to try and understand and really make sense of their past.”

And even an “intense, morally complex thriller” needs a little levity injected into scenes to keep the characters balanced. Warner hints that most of the “dark comedy” moments come from Brenneman and Linklater’s characters in order to “lighten the tension” on screen.

And most importantly in this movement of equal representation for women on and off camera, Tell Me Your Secrets depicts complicated lead female characters, plus a female director and female showrunner, and Papandrea wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I started a company called Made Up Stories, and our whole goal is to have women in front of and behind the camera,” she said. “People are dying for women to be at the center. It’s in our culture. People want to see all sides of themselves and women haven’t seen that for a very long time.”

Did we mention she’s one of the creative forces behind HBO’s Big Little Lies? Although Papandrea was pretty tight-lipped she did reveal that Meryl’s been “great.”

“We’ve been shooting, and it’s going great. I’m really excited to have everyone back together,” she said, then added, “I can tease it’s a very compelling storyline this season.”

Tell Me Your Secrets, 2018, TNT