We all have either been entranced by a twisted love story or have endured one ourselves. The latter is definitely the case for Lucy Albright (Grace Van Patten, “Mayday”) in Hulu’s adaptation of Carola Lovering’s novel “Tell Me Lies.” However, as a warning to fans of the book, the plot line of the series greatly varies from the one you’re familiar with.
The story follows Lucy over an eight-year time period, starting off in 2015 at an engagement party for a college friend. Within the pilot’s first few minutes, the audience senses that Lucy has been anxiously awaiting this event — all because of Stephen DeMarco (Jackson James White, “Ambulance”), the boy she fell for nearly a decade prior. Yet, after a friend states, “I really hope that you can avoid going down the whole Stephen rabbit hole today,” the viewer can’t help but wonder what really happened between these two.
Before the characters reconnect at the engagement party, the audience is taken back to 2007 — specifically, to the start of Lucy’s freshman year at Baird College and her first interaction with Stephen, which is full of sexual chemistry. Unfortunately, this is one of the few aspects of the show that accurately reflects the book — along with copious amounts of drama, and not just the type that ensues after frat parties.
As the pilot progresses, so does the sexual tension between Lucy and Stephen. Stephen, a charming and confident junior, has his eyes set on newbie Lucy. Unbeknownst to her are his manipulative ways, hidden secrets and very relevant ex-girlfriend. In other words, he’s a disaster waiting to happen.
Nevertheless, Lucy and Stephen have a connection that is undeniable. From stealing glances at each other from across campus to sharing flirtatious banter, there is clearly an attraction. Whether this crush turns into an unhealthy infatuation is something only the following episodes can explain.
And so, while Lucy is made out to seem a bit cold and emotionless at the beginning of the episode, the audience inevitably feels concerned for her by the end. The show impressively sets up the chaotic events that will later unfold, fueling a hungry curiosity within the viewer. After seeing the juxtaposition of what was an innocent freshman girl and her anguished future self, we are certainly in for a tumultuous ride.
With that being said, buckle up, because whether or not you read “Tell Me Lies,” nothing can quite prepare you for the emotional distress this story generates. The Hulu series may not be exactly like the novel it is based on, but it is just as intoxicating, almost like the relationship between Lucy Albright and Stephen DeMarco.
Daily Arts Writer Molly Hirsch can be reached at email@example.com.