Based on Karen M. McManus’ 2017 novel, “One of Us Is Lying,” is an investigated teen thriller that follows four students at Bayview High School who are prime suspects in the murder of a classmate who died of an anaphylactic shock while all five of them are detained on the first day of school after summer vacation. What follows is a criminal investigation into the murder, in which these four students form a Murder Club to investigate their classmate’s death in order to prove their innocence and save their future.
Erica Saleh created the television series “One of Us Is Lying,” which consists of eight 40-minute episodes.
‘One of Us Is Lying’ Plot Summary
After the summer holidays, the students of Bayview High School return to school, and senior high schooler Simon Kelleher decides to drop a gossip bomb on the first day of school via his self-designed app called “About That.” Simon is an outcast genius of Bayview who dares to accept his true persona and, for the same reason, he hates his fellow mates who hide themselves behind a mask or have secrets which they never share, and thus swears to reveal the truth no matter what it leads to. Last year, Simon leaked photos that resulted in the expulsion of half of the basketball team, and this year he has targeted four of Bayview’s worst offenders, including A-list topper Bronwyn Rojas, a famous cheerleader, Adelaide “Addy” Prentiss, a gifted baseball pitcher, Cooper Clay, and a drug-peddler, Nathaniel “Nate” Macauley.
Coincidentally, on the first day of school, AP Physics teacher Ms. Avery detains Addy, Nate, Bronwyn, Cooper, and Simon for different reasons. During the detention, Simon drinks water from a paper cup and suffers an anaphylactic shock from his peanut allergy that kills him. The investigating officer, Detective Wheeler, suspects that one of the detainees poisoned Simon’s drink with peanut oil while also removing EpiPens from his bag and the school infirmary, which resulted in his death.
While the police carry on their investigation, Addy, Nate, Bronwyn, and Cooper form a Murder Club to catch Simon’s murderer with the intent of proving their innocence.
The Prime Suspects and Their Secrets
Addy, Nate, Bronwyn, and Cooper, the prime suspects in Simon’s murder, had secrets that Simon was going to reveal on his app, “About That.” These secrets could have jeopardized their future prospects, so it gave all four of them a motive to kill Simon. However, after Simon’s death, his best friend, Janae Mathews, hacked into the app and revealed the secrets of the four prime suspects.
Bronwyn Rojas: She was an A-list topper and an overly competitive student who was defined by her academic success and wanted to be valedictorian. In her class, it was only the tech-genius Simon who threatened her title and was secretly dating Bronwyn’s younger sister, Maeve. She was once diagnosed with cancer, and as a result, Bronwyn was especially protective of her. When she read Maeve and Simon’s text, she warned Simon to stay out of her sister’s life, and at the same moment, Simon revealed to her that he knew a secret about her.
During her senior year, everyone was preparing for college, and Bronwyn was passionate about getting into Yale. However, she was struggling with a C-grade in her chemistry class, so she stole exam questions from her chemistry teacher to maintain her identity as a perfect student. She feared that this secret could have jeopardized her admission to Yale, but by the end of “One of Us Is Lying,” she made peace with it and accepted the fact that there is more to a person than just good grades.
Adelaide “Addy” Prentiss: Addy was a well-known cheerleader who was dating the football team’s captain, Jake Riordan. During the summer vacation, Jake went out of the station and posted pictures with French models while ignoring Addy’s texts. Addy felt envious and lonely and cheated on Jake with his best friend, TJ Forrester, who already had a huge crush on Addy.
A common friend, Keely, saw TJ, and Addy, while they were making out on the beach, and she traded Addy’s secret with Simon to protect Cooper’s sexual inclination. For the time being, Addy feared that Simon would reveal her secret, which would ruin her relationship with Jake, as he hated people who lied to him or cheated on him. However, by the end of “One of Us Is Lying,” it was revealed that Simon had told Addy’s secret to Jake during the pool party, after which Jake decided to take revenge on Addy and frame her for the murder of Simon, but things didn’t turn out as he planned.
Cooper Clay: He was a transfer student who came from Mississippi and had a history of violence that he kept secret from everybody. Cooper was gifted with a golden arm that made him a star baseball pitcher, and his father, Kevin Clay, had high hopes for him, believing his son’s baseball career would uplift the family’s financial condition.
However, like everybody else, Cooper had a secret too. He was gay but remained hidden in the closet while secretly dating a senior named Kris and indulged himself in a fake relationship with a classmate, Keely to protect his identity. Cooper feared that his secret would jeopardize his sports career and all the hopes his father had for him.
Nathaniel “Nate” Macauley: Nate was raised in a conflicted environment with an alcoholic father and a mother suffering from bipolar disorder. In the absence of proper parental care, love, and support, Nate started looking after himself by selling drugs to rich kids in school.
During Jake’s pool party, Janae Mathews saw Simon and Maeve making out in one of the rooms. Janae had a crush on Maeve, and when she found her with Simon, she started drinking cheap drinks at the party and asked Nate for pills to ease her pain. Janae OD’d on pills sold by Nate, after which Nate was arrested for selling drugs and was released on probation.
Nate liked Bronwyn, and during “One of Us Is Lying,” they confessed their feelings to each other. However, by the end of the series, they got separated and maintained their distance for the welfare of each other.
Who Killed Simon? & Why?
After Simon was murdered, Addy, Nate, Bronwyn, and Cooper decided to put aside their differences to catch Simon’s killer, and during their investigation, they suspected Janae, TJ Forrester, TJ’s girlfriend Vanessa, and teacher Ms. Avery, as well as Simon’s childhood best friend, Jake Riordan. Each of the people had a motive, and the Murder Club finally concluded that Simon was not innocent either. Rather, he was trading secrets with fellow students to promote gossip in school because he was jealous of rich and popular kids. However, during a heated argument at Jake’s pool party, Simon revealed to Jake that his longtime girlfriend, Addy, cheated on him while he was away on vacation.
After Jake learned about his girlfriend’s betrayal, he decided to take revenge on Addy and asked Simon to post about her on his “About That” app. However, when Simon refused to be a part of Jake’s revenge plot, Jake tried to trick Simon into orchestrating his own fake death to get a kick out of it. Now, Simon might be an intellectual genius, but he was also obsessed with Jake. Other than that, Simon frequently looked for ways to spice up his boring college life, and exposing others’ secrets was one of his favorite ways to get a kick in life. While talking about their dangerous childhood pranks, Simon felt the missing spark that got lost as they grew up.
Over the Xbox chat, Simon and Jake targeted Addy, Nate, Bronwyn, and Cooper to play their prank. Their plan was to bring these four to the detention by blackmailing Ms. Avery with her secret, and while the teacher was distracted by the jocks, Simon would poison his drink with peanut oil. After the allergic reaction, Simon would cry for help and Addy, Nate, Bronwyn, and Cooper would panic as they wouldn’t be able to find an EpiPen in Simon’s bag. However, in the end, Jake would bring it to finally save Simon’s life. Only, in reality, Jake didn’t have any intention of saving Simon.
Jake removed the box of EpiPens from the school infirmary and wrote Addy’s name on the register to frame her for Simon’s murder. However, when the Murder Club saved Addy, Jake clicked pictures of the group and posted them online to defame them, and later went for his plan B, where he placed the box of EpiPens on Nate’s motorcycle to frame him for murder. Jake had planned the perfect revenge plot. However, there was one leak in it, which was that Simon had recorded their conversation about the fake murder prank, which was why Jake took Simon’s Xbox during his funeral.
‘One of Us Is Lying’ Season 1: Ending Explained
Jake lacked empathy and was a psychopath who liked to control people. Janae frequently warned Addy that Jake was a sociopath who decided everything in her life and had made her a puppet, forcing her to live her life in his shadows. It can be argued that Jake had no control over her parents or his father’s infidelity that led to the broken marriage and the trauma that filled Jake’s childhood. Hence, Jake didn’t want to feel the feelings of rejection or betrayal again, which led to his extensive desire to control people’s actions.
Jake planned to destroy the last evidence that could have connected him to Simon’s murder and thus tried to destroy Simon’s Xbox with their recorded conversation, but during the Halloween party, it was stolen by Janae, Addy, Nate, Bronwyn, and Cooper. When Jake found out about it, he pulled a gun on them, and using the distraction, Addy escaped with the Xbox. Jake and others followed Addy to the woods, where, during a tussle, Jake got shot and died.
Janae, Addy, Nate, Bronwyn, and Cooper decided to hide Jake’s body and fabricated a story that Jake fled to Mexico after Addy confronted Jake about his Xbox chats with Simon. They planted Simon’s Xbox in Jake’s room, and the police conveniently found and unlocked it, in which they discovered the recorded conversation that revealed that Simon orchestrated his own assassination and Jake pulled the strings and killed him. Bayview’s gossip queen, Vanessa, who gained a lot of followers through the coverage of Simon’s death on her social media, found the entire plot fishy, yet she didn’t have any evidence to prove it. Finally, the police dropped all the charges against Nate and Janae, Addy, Bronwyn, and Cooper went back to their normal lives, burying the secret about Jake’s death.
‘One of Us Is Lying’ Season 2: Expectations
After the case was closed, Addy, Janae, Nate, Bronwyn, and Cooper decided to go back to their normal lives, but unfortunately, in their normal lives, they weren’t talking to each other and thus maintained their differences, even if the secret about Jake’s death connected these four individuals via an invisible thread. At the end of “One of Us Is Lying” Season 1, Addy, Nate, Bronwyn, Cooper, and Janae receive a disappearing “Simon Says” message that points out that someone else other than them knows their secret and thus blackmails them into following the commands.
Janae reveals to Addy earlier in the series that someone else hacked into the “About That” app and locked her out, and it’s likely the same person who leaked Bronwyn’s video in which she pushed Simon. In Episode 6, Janae receives the same “Simon Says” text that informs her about the Epipen that Jake planted in Addy’s locker (102) to frame her for the murder. However, before the police could have found it, the unknown hacker revealed its location, thus protecting Addy in a way. It implies that the hacker was acting as a neutral party all along, planting clues to add more twists and turns to the investigation.
Whoever this person is, his or her identity will be revealed in “One of Us Is Lying” Season 2 along with the motive. Until then, it looks like it’s just another crazy psychopath like Simon, who loves to play tricks on people and see them suffer. Season 2 will tell us better.
‘One of Us Is Lying’ is a 2021 Crime Thriller Series created by Erica Saleh.