Steve Howey and Ginger Gonzaga as Harry and Helen Tasker in True Lies CBS
Here's why True Lies is better as a TV show than a movie. (Image via CBS)

True Lies was a 1994 hit flick that starred Jamie Lee Curtis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it certainly works way better as a TV show today. The film has been made into a TV series for CBS this year, which has Steve Howey and Ginger Gonzaga in the lead roles. The movie is in the line of many hits that have been turned into a series, such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

It deals with the character of Helen Tasker, featured by Jamie Lee Curtis, who finds out her husband Harry Tasker, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is a spy. Much like investigative shows, the True Lies TV series makes a spy procedural out of the plot, albeit showing a revelation-esque storyline for its pilot.

The equation for this espionage pattern sits well with CBS as it ties up a few loose ends that the movie had.

True Lies as a TV show is an attractive spy procedural

Investigative procedurals are a given formula for hit tv shows, and CBS has no dearth of it. With the kind of lineup the network already has, which includes FBI shows, the NCIS franchise, S.W.A.T, and Blue Bloods, it makes a lot of sense to turn True Lies into a spy procedural.

Also, one of the reasons that this genre works better is that viewers can skip an episode or two. In the times of streaming platforms and DVR, they tend to be more inclined towards shows with new missions in every episode. This is precisely what could work as a success for True Lies when it comes to gaining more viewership as it runs its course.

Helen’s discovery in True Lies had to come fast

In the movie, the delayed discovery Helen made about Harry added a sense of tension and gripping suspense. But this quarter worked well because it was included in a film. It is safe to assume that this method of “dragging” a character out and about in the dark would have been quite annoying to watch on a TV show. It would have made the episode very repetitive had the reveal been left until mid-season or the finale.

The most exciting part of the story is when Helen finds out Harry’s real identity, and that had to work out in the pilot for the rest of the adventure to sit well along the way.

Helen and Harry’s spying on the kids creates a hilarious subplot

Instead of playing out the mystery of Helen’s ignorance of Harry’s alias, the show decided to keep their two kids, Dana and Jake, in the dark about their parents’ frequent missions.

This adds a hilarious angle to the plot as the Taskers can neither confess their adventures to their children nor can they leave them unattended. So, what do they do? Apart from making up stories to cover up their lives, they bring in a trained assassin, Mrs. Myers, who they think to be just their cat lady neighbor, to look after the kids.

In the movie, Harry spies on Helen, which borders on extreme creepiness and also an unhealthy stance on their marriage. However, the show flips it to the kids’ side, which even though is not healthy, makes up for it through some ethical decisions on the parents’ part.

This can be understood from the sequence of Dana attending a party and getting in a car with a guy. When the Taskers are then asked to choose by Mrs. Myers whether they want to see the images of what Dana had been up to or not, they choose not to, respecting her privacy. This stands to be a much wiser plot construction than the movie.

Certain storylines of the film don’t sit well with the audience

In the movie, several things won’t sit well with today’s audience. One such instance is Harry’s almost abusive behavior towards Helen when he suspects her to be having an affair.

He starts spying on her using the resources of the Omega Sector and even goes as far as to kidnap her, harass the man he suspects his wife to be sleeping with, lock her in a room, and use a computerized voice to interrogate her.

Harry also sends her on a fake mission and makes her dance half-naked for him without disclosing his identity to her. He then proceeds to kiss her. These instances would be deemed severely inappropriate and abusive in today’s media and to the audience.

The True Lies show flips the game by bringing out Helen as being the one that suspects Harry of cheating on her. But instead of spying, she confronts him, which makes for a much more sensible action than making somebody do demeaning things.

Helen is also made an agent of the Omega Sector, rather than being sent on a fake mission. This makes the TV series widely acceptable to the global audience along with being a super-entertaining watch!

Roshni Ganguly has a post-graduate degree in English Literature and is currently pursuing a degree in French. In her spare time, Roshni is an avid reader and an incredible artist who has a masterful hand when it comes to botanical art.