If you’re looking for a drama-filled show that will keep you faithfully tuned in to every episode, look no further. Tell Me Lies (2022), a television series based on Carola Lovering’s novel of the same title, was released on Hulu this September. Shock and suspense combine with an unraveling crime to make Tell Me Lies an extremely captivating show to binge.
The show follows the wild and toxic relationship between a college freshman, Lucy Albright (Grace Van Patten), and her junior boyfriend, Stephen DeMarco (Jackson White). Their rollercoaster of a relationship is complicated by many different factors, but mostly by the death of Lucy’s roommate, Macy (Lily McInerny), who died during a car accident during the first week of college.
The first episode begins with a flash forward to a wedding party 8 years in the future before quickly snapping back to Lucy’s first day of college in 2007. The story unfolds from this point on, mostly trailing Lucy and her boyfriend as they navigate college, their relationship, and Stephen’s involvement in Macy’s death.
Tell Me Lies is an attention-grabbing show — not only because of its suspenseful plot but also because of its relatable portrayal of college students and their lives. In particular, their romantic relationships are rather recognizable to college students. While Lucy and Stephen are technically the “main” relationship, the show also follows Lucy’s friends, Bree (Catherine Missal) and Pippa (Sonia Mena), and their lives. They also meet older boys during their freshman year and experience what it’s like to date someone in college among all of the other drama that unravels.
Lucy and Stephen start off as a “situationship”, a term all too familiar to many of us. During the beginning of the series, Stephen gets back together with his ex and continues to seek her out even after he starts seeing Lucy. Some might argue that Stephen and Lucy were only in the “talking stage” at this point, but, nevertheless, their relationship is sure to be relatable to viewers. Their dynamic as a couple portrays them as together, but not dating, which is a familiar situation that many people find themselves in. Being in an exclusive relationship is not as common as it seems in today’s current dating scene.
Another potentially relatable depiction of college life is the portrayal of men, specifically in regards to the uneven power dynamics that sometimes plague heterosexual relationships. Stephen sets the stage for his relationship with Lucy, and she follows along. While Lucy does assert herself at times in the relationship, Stephen uses his own involvement in Macy’s death as a manipulation tactic to get what he wants. He also has an age advantage over Lucy, as he is a junior, and she is a freshman. Stephen creates a toxic relationship between himself and Lucy, yet she remains by his side regardless. From the start of their relationship, he ropes her in — he takes her out to dinner and gives her attention— only to cheat on her before going right back to her. Though Stephen drags Lucy into his own problems, including those surrounding Macy’s death, she doesn’t care and remains very into him. There exists an uneven, male-dominant power. While the clear toxicity of their relationship can be something viewers may connect to, the concept of liking the idea of someone may be even more relatable. Viewers may not have a toxic relationship like Stephen and Lucy’s, but they may be able to recognize the power dynamic that exists between them. Lucy likes the idea of Stephen, an older guy, even though he manipulates her into thinking he cares for her. Often times girls will remain wrapped around the finger of a guy who may not even truly care about them, as it is easy to get caught up in the idea of someone or something, rather than the reality.
I often have trouble getting into and sticking with a new show, but Tell Me Lies made it easy for me to become attached. The series is fast-paced, and never dull. With each new episode, there is increasingly more drama, especially as more is revealed about the night Macy died. The actors are great and make it feel like you are inside the drama of an actual group of college students. The relationship between Lucy and Stephen also feels very real, throughout all of their ups and downs. On-screen, their chemistry remains undeniable. Every emotion they experience together is intense — from their romantic scenes to their fights filled with teary eyes and screaming.
While it is unclear whether Tell Me Lies will be renewed for a second season, the season finale seems to set things up for future episodes, flashing forward to the wedding party from the first episode and introducing new and complicated couples between the main characters.