One Of Us Is Lying (2021) | TV Review
Stop Pretending We Don’t Know Who John Hughes Is
By Emily Gevers
photo courtesy of IMDb
Confession: I unironically enjoyed the first season of Riverdale. I’m not saying it was good, but it did keep me hooked to the point that my friends and I made a murder board à la Charlie Day. Point is, I love a good Teen Drama/Mystery and was thus intrigued by Netflix’s One Of Us Is Lying based on Karen M. McManus’ novel.
The premise is simple: five teenagers march into detention; four make it out alive.
Over the course of the season, the four remaining students – who are now suspects – band together to do their own investigation into who killed Simon Kelleher.
The students follow the tried-and-true Breakfast Club pattern: the Princess, the Athlete, the Brain, the Criminal, and the Basket Case. That the characters are heavily inspired by the cult film is acknowledged through promotional pictures as well as in the Pilot episode directly: ‘This place is such a cliché. It’s like everyone’s here to audition for the reboot of a John Hughes movie,’ says Simon. His friend responds: ‘Except none of them even know who John Hughes is.’
Talking about one of the most quintessential 80s movies like it’s an underground indie film is about as annoying as the straight white son of the mayor talking about privilege like he isn’t… the straight white son of the mayor.
Mark McKenna’s portrayal of Simon as a condescending, holier-than-thou asshole is excellent and infuriating. However, despite its acknowledgements of clichés, the series sometimes fails to be its own thing; even the characters’ tragic backstories and secrets seem predictable and par for the course. (The smart and perfect student is not always smart and perfect? Shocking.) The smug superiority complex built on owning a record player and listening to Pink Floyd is out – people know who John Hughes is, even in 2022. One Of Us Is Lying is a way more diverse show than any John Hughes movie anyway!
Though it seems like I’ve ripped into the show quite a bit, I genuinely enjoyed watching it. The series’ engagement with modern social media is, I think, particularly well done. One Of Us Is Lying manages to portray the ridiculous sides of social media without falling into the ‘internet bad’ spiel that boomers so love. Though sardonic, I can readily believe that, in this time of True Crime brainrot, a murder investigation is broadcast via TikTok and armchair detectives catfish each other on Instagram. There is hope though: love interests watching the same movie miles apart through the magic of Teleparty? That’s modern love, baby.