Is there any genre more creepy than the one where a family has lost a baby and has had difficulty getting over it? In our book, there isn’t, because it generally leads to scenes where people are carrying around life-like baby dolls and/or coveting other people’s newborns. In The Secrets She Keeps, we see a pregnant woman who works in a supermarket stalking another woman who seemingly has a perfect life. How creepy will this show get?
THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: A dog barks in the middle of the night; a pregnant woman, who’s already awake and lying in bed, gets up. We hear in voice over that this is their “oops” baby, that the woman and her husband didn’t plan on a third child, but after a night of revelry it just happened.
The Gist: Meghan Shaughnessy (Jessica De Gouw) is pregnant with the third child for her and her husband Jack (Michael Dorman), a TV executive. As she states in her increasingly successful blog, this third pregnancy wasn’t planned, and it seems that Jack hasn’t just been sexually distant from her, as Meghan tells her sister Grace (Caribe Heine), but emotionally distant, as well.
As Meghan takes her kids to school, Agatha Fyfle (Laura Carmichael), eight months pregnant herself, looks on from the window of the supermarket where she works as a stock person. She’s been looking at Meghan for awhile, perhaps longing for that life instead of the life she has now. Aggie gets berated by her boss on the regular, and comes home alone to a dirty apartment. We see her put a lifelike baby doll in the crib that she has reserved for her child.
Despite all the trappings of the good life, though, Meghan isn’t exactly happy. The pay raise that Jack was expecting doesn’t happen, and he is feeling the strain of financially carrying the entire family; that’s the reason why Meghan’s surprise pregnancy is stressing him out. He’s also upset that Meghan decided to not go back to work as they had discussed.
Aggie’s pregnancy comes a year after losing a baby girl after 32 weeks; when she “runs into” Meghan at the supermarket, she says she’s having a boy, due around the same time Meghan is. Then she tells Hayden Cole (Michael Sheasby), a sailor who has been on a ship for seven months, that the baby is his. He balks, and Aggie has to go behind his back to his parents, hoping they can convince him to at least accept some responsibility for the child. When they offer her some money, she takes it and smiles as she leaves their house. When she Skypes him back, he not only is more accepting, but the two of them have some Skype sex, initiated by Aggie.
When Aggie’s store is robbed, Aggie falls down in the process. The police escort her home, and while she’s watching her neighbor’s son, the son notices that she’s bleeding in her privates area. Aggie goes into the bathroom, distraught over the blood, but not for the reasons the viewer might think.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Single White Female, combined with the baby-jealousy factor of the Apple TV+ series Servant.
Our Take: Written by Jonathan Gavin and Sarah Walker based on the novel by Michael Robotham, The Secrets She Keeps has its predictable moments. but it’s carried by the performances of its leads. What the first episode attempts to do is lead us to believe that what Aggie is longing for is the life that Meghan has, with the nice house, the handsome husband and the cute kids. But what she’s really longing for is what’s residing in Meghan’s uterus, which leads to the first episode ending in a way that’s surprising but not shocking.
Until, then, though, we enjoyed the first episode because Carmichael and De Gouw are so convincing as the contrasting mothers-to-be. De Gouw presents like Meghan is living the good life, but when she confronts Jack over the fact that he hasn’t been eager to have this third child, or when she cooks for Jack in order to entice him to give her some intimacy, you can see the desperation underneath the sheen of Meghan’s seemingly put-together exterior.
Carmichael, though, is the revelation, playing Aggie in a way that’s certainly weird and creepy, but also surprisingly normal. Once you see that she’s depressed over the loss of her last pregnancy after trying with IVF for years, you can understand her despondency, and almost understand her obsession with Meghan, even if it’s weird as hell. Something is broken inside Aggie, and she thinks the only thing that will fix it is a baby. But how she goes about it, though, shows the audience that she’s not only desperate, but the desperation has brought out the sociopath that was hidden inside her all along.
But, as we said, there were clues dropped along the way in the first episode that made us question whether Aggie is actually pregnant. It’s just enough to get us thinking, but it also made for less of a surprise when we saw the ending. What this sets in motion, though, is what we hope is a twisty thriller that shows the consequences of Aggie’s mental break and how it affects Meghan’s family.
Sex and Skin: A lot of talk about sex, and also Aggie’s surprisingly effective Skype sex session with Hayden. But most of the first episode is pretty tame.
Parting Shot: We see Aggie’s secret, and then a view of her from the sink as it fills with water and blood. Even though it’s distorted, she’s clearly crying.
Sleeper Star: Ryan Corr plays Jack’s friend Simon Beecher. We only see him being the dopey best friend who can’t wait to corrupt his godchildren in a few years. But there’s more to this role than we’re seeing in the first episode. There has to be, right?
Most Pilot-y Line: “I wish you were here… I’d let you fuck another baby into me,” says Aggie as she starts getting Hayden hot and heavy over Skype. That’s one of the most unsexy lines we’ve ever heard, but for some reason or another it worked on Hayden. Seven months at sea can do things to a young guy.
Our Call: STREAM IT. The Secrets She Keeps certainly has a bit of a Lifetime movie feel to it, but the leads bring more than enough credibility to their roles to make the series worth watching.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,, , Fast Company and elsewhere.
Stream The Secrets She Keeps On AMC