Based on the work of Dr. Paul Ekman, “Lie to Me” aired on the FOX network from 2009 to 2011. It ran for three seasons (48 episodes), and has aired in over 60 countries worldwide.The series won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite TV Crime Drama in 2011. Dr. Ekman served as Scientific Consultant for the show, analyzing and critiquing each episode’s script.
You can watch all 3 seasons on Netflix, Google Play, and iTunes.
‘Lie to Me’ featured Dr. Cal Lightman (the actor Tim Roth), a deception detection expert. Dr. Lightman was based loosely on Paul Ekman; analyzing facial expressions, speech, and involuntary body language, he could read a spectrum of feelings – hidden resentment, sexual attraction, jealousy were easily spotted. Lightman knew his ability was both a blessing and a curse, especially in his personal life where family and friends deceived each other as readily as criminals and strangers do. He and his colleagues in The Lightman Group provided a professional service to government agencies, corporations, and individuals. The team displayed extensive knowledge of micro expressions and the Facial Action Coding System while solving cases. They set out to discover not only if someone was lying, but also to lay bare the motivation for those lies.
The Truth About 'Lie to Me': Separating Fact from Fiction
To help you understand how The Paul Ekman Group and the fictional Lightman Group compare, we’ve outlined significant similarities and differences below. During the production of ‘Lie to Me’ Dr. Ekman also posted a blog detailing which aspects of the show were factually correct, and which were purely for entertainment’s sake.
Fact and Fiction: The Paul Ekman Group vs. The Lightman Group
1. In ‘Lie to Me’, Cal Lightman and the Lightman Group take on individual cases, call out public figures, and eat with their mouths open.
Not so, at the Paul Ekman Group.
The Paul Ekman Group provides online emotional skills-building programs such as the Micro Expressions tool, offers workshops, supports researchers and builds online communities around relevant topics. We also have good table manners.
2. The Lightman Group works closely with the FBI, the police, and other government agencies. In ‘Lie to Me’, agents are often visiting the office (if not working there), and giving Cal a hard time.
The Paul Ekman Group also works closely with law enforcement and national security agencies, including clients such as the C.I.A. , the F.B.I. and Scotland Yard. And we consult to other kinds of organizations, from Pixar and Procter & Gamble to Kaiser and Google. But our work is all about training, not individual casework. Paul Ekman International (PEI) offers in-person workshops, and PEG offers online training at various competency levels. The Paul Ekman Group does provide in person workshops in law enforcement and national security in the US and other English speaking countries, while PEI provides such workshops for corporations.
3. Cal Lightman had some dark secrets, and a mercurial temper.
Almost everyone has some secrets and has gone through difficult life experiences. Dr. Ekman, too. But unlike Cal Lightman, Dr. Ekman has developed a relationship with the Dalai Lama which has deeply affected his thinking and his aspirations. You can read more about this in his ebook “Moving Toward Global Compassion“. Also, take a look at the Atlas of Emotions, developed in connection with the Dalai Lama.
5. Cal Lightman was an expert at ferreting out the truth. He often provoked micro expressions by stating an untruth to see how the suspect would react.
At PEG, we assert that, with training, just about anyone can become more adept at spotting another’s effort to conceal the truth. While some people are “naturals” (like Torres) we think it behooves everyone to learn how to better understand and connect with those around them, and we offer resources to help you do that.
Dr. Ekman's Critique
Read Dr. Ekman’s critique of each episode of ‘Lie To Me’ as he separates fact from fiction.
Season 1 Critique
Dr. Ekman’s critique of Season One, ‘Lie to Me’. Join him as he differentiates hard science from pure entertainment.
Season 2 Critique
Dr. Ekman’s critique of Season Two, ‘Lie to Me’. Join him as he differentiates hard science from pure entertainment.
Season 3 Critique
Dr. Ekman’s critique of Season Three, ‘Lie to Me’. Join him as he provides his view based on 40 years of emotions research.