Netflix’s ‘One of Us Is Lying’ is a young adult mystery drama web series based on bestselling novel by Karen M. McManus. It follows the story of 5 students who walk into detention but only 4 of them make out alive. The series, originally on Peacock, is now streaming worldwide on Netflix.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
It was the first day back at Bayview High School following the summer break. And Simon Kelleger, an ostracised genius, had decided to publish some rumors on his self-created “About That” app. The app was infamous for exposing people and exposing secrets. Simon believed in accepting one’s actual self and despised his classmates who hid behind masks.
So he’d pledged to himself that no matter what, he’d always tell the truth. This year, he targeted four students- Bronwyn Rojas, a topper who wishes to get into Yale University; Adelaide Prentiss, a famous cheerleader; Cooper Clay, a gifted baseball pitcher; and Nathaniel Macauley, a drug peddler.
With what appears to be a coincidence, in the beginning, all 5, Nate, Bronwyn, Addy, Copper, and Simon, end up in detention for different reasons. During this detention, Simon drinks water from a paper cup and suffers from an anaphylactic shock from his peanut allergy, which kills him.
Detective Wheeler reveals that the water was laced with peanut oil and suspects that one of the four students might have removed the EpiPen from his bag and school infirmary, resulting in his death.
While the police investigate, the four students form a Murder Club in order to find Simon’s killer and prove their innocence. However, Janae Mathews, Simon’s best friend, hacks into the app and discloses the four prime suspects’ secrets. She is convinced that one of them had murdered her closest friend and intended to expose their secrets, demonstrating to everyone had a motive to murder him.
Bronwyn, the brilliant and extremely competitive student, aspired to be valedictorian. But her position was jeopardized by Simon, who was somewhat of an intelligent guy himself. Simon was also dating Maeve, Bronwyn’s younger sister, who had previously been diagnosed with cancer.
Simon was threatened by Bronwyn to stay out of her sister’s life, prompting him to reveal his knowledge of her secret. Bronwyn struggled with chemistry during her senior year, so she stole the exam questions from her chemistry student in order to retain her reputation as a great student and gain admission to Yale.
Addy was a famous cheerleader who was dating the football team’s captain, Jake Riordan. During summer vacation, Jake went to France and posted photos with french models while ignoring Addy’s messages. This made her very angry, and she decided to cheat on him with his best friend, TJ Forrester. Their friend Keely saw them making out and traded Addy’s secret with Simon to keep Cooper’s secret safe.
Cooper was a transfer student and a gifted star baseball pitcher. He carried the pressure of uplifting his family’s financial condition through his talent. However, just like everyone else, he had a secret too- he was gay. He was secretly dating a senior named Kris while being in a fake relationship with Keely. He was scared that his identity might jeopardize his sports career.
Nate had a tough childhood. With an alcoholic father and mother suffering from Bipolar disorder, he started taking care of himself by selling drugs to rich students. He had sold drugs to Janae, who had a crush on Maeve and saw her making out with Simon. After Janae almost died because of pills, Nate was arrested for selling drugs and later released on probation.
With Murder Club’s investigation going strong, they realize that Simon was not as innocent as people were making him out to be. He would often trade secrets to keep the gossip going and had destroyed the lives of many students just because he was jealous of rich and famous kids.
During a heated argument at Jake’s pool party, Simon had told him Addy’s secret. Jake felt betrayed and angry and asked Simon to post her secret on About That. However, when Simon refuses to do so, Jake convinces him to orchestrate his own death as a prank on everyone.
Over Xbox chat, Jake and Simon finalized the details of their prank. The plan was to bring Bronwyn, Nate, Cooper, and Addy into detention by blackmailing Ms. Avery with her secret. Later, when the teacher was distracted, Simon would poison his drink with peanut oil. This would lead to all four students panicking, as they won’t find an EpiPen in his back.
If you have any doubts from the ending, here’s a full breakdown.
One of Us is Lying ending explained in detail:
In the end, Jake was supposed to save Simon. According to the plan, he would come with an EpiPen, saving Simon’s life. However, Jake had no intention of following through with the last parts of the plan. He ended up removing EpiPen from the school infirmary altogether.
Through a series of flashbacks, it is then revealed that Jake’s father had cheated on his mom in a similar manner, resulting in a broken marriage. This had led to a childhood full of trauma for Jake, making him the controlling man that he is in the present time.
Throughout his relationship with Addy, he can be seen controlling every aspect of her life, making her a mere passive puppet in his hands. So, when Addy cheated on him, the feeling of losing control and rejection resurfaced from his childhood.
With a thirst for revenge, he wrote Addy’s name in Register, trying to frame her for the disappearance of EpiPen and further Simon’s murder. However, when Murder Club was able to prove her innocence and help her he moved to his plan B.
He captured images of the Murder Club meetings and posted them online, to defame them. He moved the latter part of the plan and placed the EpiPen in Nate’s motorcycle and tipped police about the same. This resulted in Nate getting arrested.
While Jake’s revenge plan was perfect, there was a small loophole- Simon had recorded their conversation about the fake murder plan on the Xbox. This turned out to be a very big problem for Jake, prompting him to steal it during the funeral.
Meanwhile, Addy became suspicious when she recognized Simon’s handle in Jake’s Xbox chat history. She revealed this news to the Murder Club and they make a plan to steal the Xbox during the Halloween party.
Jake tried destroying the Xbox, wanting to erase every bit of evidence that might connect him to the murder, but was unable to complete this task.
The Murder Club were halfway through their plan of stealing the Xbox when Jake catches up to them. It becomes pretty clear to them that Jake is involved in the murder. Jake threatens them to hand over the Xbox and pulls out a gun.
The real Murder Club
With Jake’s threat hanging in the air and a gun pointing towards them, Addy takes off with the Xbox into the woods, with Jake right behind her tail. Cooper and Janae follow them, trying to help Addy.
When Jake has cornered Addy, Janae hits him with a bat, causing him to drop the gun. In the middle of the fight, a gunshot rings out, and Jake is revealed to be dead. The Murder Club disposes of his body and fabricates the story to make it seem like he fled to Mexico, after being confronted by Addy about the Xbox.
The police find the incriminating evidence against Jake and drop all the charges against Nate. The case is finally closed and the four students are cleared. The now real Murder Club can go on to live their lives peacefully, burying the secret of Jake’s death along with his body.
However, one day, each one of them gets a message threatening to expose their secret. The season ends with someone blackmailing the four students about Jake’s murder.