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Peacock's One of Us Is Lying updates The Breakfast Club with a murderous twist
NBCUniversal continues to bolster its unassuming streaming service Peacock with original content. Its latest new series One of Us Is Lying is set to launch this week, featuring a group of teens brought together by murder, each hiding their own secrets as they try to clear their names.
Peacock has certainly been covering its bases, releasing prestige shows in different genres in its attempts to compete with the big services like Netflix, Amazon, and HBO Max. One of Us Is Lying joins major titles like Brave New World, Dr. Death, The Lost Symbol, A.P. Bio, Departure, The Amber Ruffin Show, and more.
Peacock shared the first three episodes of One of Us Is Lying with Android Authority ahead of the series premiere on October 7.
Here’s what we thought.
What is One of Us Is Lying all about?
It’s the first day of high school, and five unlucky seniors find themselves already serving detention.
Among them is Simon, the noxious creator of gossip blog About That, which he operates openly, attracting the well-earned ire of his classmates. His reputation complicates things when he dies under suspicious circumstances. The only witnesses? The four students in detention with him. And it doesn’t take long for them to also become the prime suspects.
Figuring out who killed Simon is just part of the mystery, though.
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As Simon’s cause of death is revealed, we learn that all four had opportunity. But the series also reveals that they each had their own complicated motives. Simon was gearing up for a series of big reveals on About That. But no one knew exactly who the targets would be. As his classmates try to avoid suspicion, they also grapple with the secrets Simon could have revealed about them.
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Karen M. McManus, One of Us Is Lying combines teen drama with a tense little murder mystery.
The eight-episode season will roll out in batches on Thursdays over three weeks, with three episodes dropping on October 7, three more on October 14, and the final two on October 21.
Everything old is new again
One of Us Is Lying isn’t subtle in its allusions.
The Breakfast Club is the clearest intentional reference point, with director John Hughes even named explicitly in the first episode. The basic format of bringing together different high school archetypes — the jock, the nerd, the popular girl, the rebel, and the outsider — via the great equalizer, detention is effectively a direct nod to the genre-defining teen classic.
But the whole thing is just as much if not more of a riff on the CW’s original Gossip Girl and Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, with just a touch of I Know What You Did Last Summer, too.
One of Us Is Lying wears its influences on its sleeve.
By giving us the identity of About That’s creator, the show sidesteps a key part of Gossip Girl’s premise: the anonymous nature of Gossip Girl, who similarly airs her high school’s dirty laundry over social media. Instead, here we have Simon, whose motives are unclear. What is clear is that his alternative outsider persona is no justification for the cruelty of his posts. These include possibly outing his gay classmates, mocking girls with anorexia, and more mean-spirited revelations.
By refocusing, we get the slow burn and the fear of exposure — or worse— of 13 Reasons Why and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
In One of Us Is Lying, everyone has skeletons in their closets, even the not-so-dearly departed.
One of Us Is Lying review: The verdict
The nice thing about One of Us is Lying wearing its inspirations on its sleeve is that it can casually play around with our expectations. It knows what it’s up to, and it’s clearly having fun repurposing familiar stories and conventions.
The characters are engaging, and there’s plenty of mystery to keep things lively. None of the four students seem the type to kill, though they all had reasons to shut Simon up. But if it wasn’t one (or all) of them, who was it, and why were these four set up?
It’s a pretty classic whodunit, where everybody’s a suspect and nobody’s talking. By blending in teen drama — refreshingly not sanitized to satisfy network censors — it keeps things interesting while feeling comfortably familiar.
Check out: Peacock’s The Lost Symbol review
The show is far from perfect, certainly. Its attempts at feeling edgy can get tiresome. And the dialogue sometimes sounds a bit too much like how adults think teens talk amongst themselves. (That last feature didn’t stop Dawson’s Creek from becoming an era-defining hit in the late 1990s though.)
But still, One of Us Is Lying has definite appeal. I found myself racing through episodes wanting to know what happens next. I’ll be looking forward to finding out who’s behind all this chaos.
Check out One of Us Is Lying on Peacock starting October 7.