It was clear from the outset that Agatha was Not Good News. Her wide-eyed adoration of Meghan on encountering her for the first time in the supermarket aisle was a ring-a-ding moment, the leap from “we’re both pregnant” to “let’s be friends!” a quasi-parody of the formation of female friendships. What we wait for now is the fleshing out of Agatha: what baby Ben signifies to her and to what extremes she will go to keep him.
Of course, the related question, jumping up and down in the corner and screaming for attention, is who is going to come out of this little potboiler alive? For what it’s worth, Meghan’s husband Jack (Michael Dorman) is utterly expendable but could redeem his disappointing ordinariness with a heroic act of noble sacrifice. Just saying.
The Secrets She Keeps has given audiences a decent twirl around the dance floor while it probes the secrets and lies of performative contentment. There has been a pleasing proportion of skeletons to closets as the tale dutifully peels away layers to reveal more layers (because underneath it all, we’re thoroughly miserable, aren’t we ladies?). If that’s all too colour-by-numbers, you could add a layer of class critique, beginning with working-class Agatha’s signature anorak and desultory apartment. We’ll have to wait to the end to know if Agatha is the living embodiment of the politics of envy or just a very naughty girl.
Whatever happens to our two protagonists, they’re merely well-acted stand-ins for the “types” that populate our popular entertainment. The secret lives of suburban women have become a rich vein for thriller writers, and their target audience is the exact same women put through increasingly convoluted paces in plots involving secrets, lies, subterfuge and athleisure wear.
Crime fiction has revealed itself to be the most versatile narrative of our murky times. That it transplants so seamlessly to the screen is just another factor in its bloody-minded favour.
The Secrets She Keeps is on Ten, Wednesday, 8.30pm.