Even if you’ve read Karen M. McManus’ bestselling novel One Of Us Is Lying, you won’t be able to predict who killed Simon on the Peacock series. There are new suspects and twists thrown in to keep everyone on their toes, according to the 2021 New York Comic Con virtual panel with the writers and actors of the new series. “We have the same central mystery,” said Erica Saleh, who penned the pilot, but there’s more in store.
The show — the first three episodes of which are currently available to stream — essentially asks “what if Gossip Girl was in detention with The Breakfast Club” and turns that question into a murder mystery when a high school student in detention is killed. Just like the John Hughes movie, the four suspects come from four corners of the teenage social hierarchy, and all “have secrets that they would literally kill for,” according to showrunner Darío Madrona. Addy is the princess; “Pressure to be perfect has absolutely gotten to her,” said actress Annalisa Cochrane. Cooper Clay is the athlete “on his way to signing a Major League deal,” according to actor Chibuikem Uche. Nate McCauley is the burnout “from the wrong side of the tracts,” per actor Cooper van Grootel). Finally, there’s the brain, Bronwyn Rojas. “[She’s] not really focused on her[self] because she’s so preoccupied on her future that she doesn’t seem too young or too much fun,” said actress Marianly Tejada.
“When you are a teenager everything feels so important,” said Madrona. He also created the hit young adult series Elite, though insisted that this series is thematically quite different and won’t be nearly as scandalous beyond the inciting murder. “Everything is so heightened. Every day feels like the last. Everything is the most important thing in the moment.”
The murder victim, Simon, appears in the series via flashbacks past his death in the first episode. In life, Simon ran a gossip blog that, like Gossip Girl, terrorized the students at his high school. “He takes it upon himself to reveal everyone’s secrets,” said Mark McKenna (Simon). Every time you see Simon in a flashback, it’s through a living character’s memory. Because of his reputation, each character may remember him in a positive or negative light. “I got to interpret every scene differently,” McKenna said of the flashbacks.
The book that One Of Us Is Lying is based on uses multiple perspectives to go in and out of different characters’ point of views and present a series of unreliable narrators. By incorporating unreliable flashbacks into the series, the show is able to imitate the feeling of reading the book in a creative way. Even if the show has thrown some wrenches into the novels’ plot as red herrings so as to not spoil the mystery, those behind the scenes have found other ways to create a faithful adaptation.