I will preface this by saying that I had certain expectations as I was already familiar with the story, so some of my criticisms of the plot might not be shared by others who have only watched the series. Despite this, I would probably still not recommend watching it.
One of Us Is Lying is a high-school drama / mystery, beginning with five characters being sent to detention together, with a Breakfast Club (1985) style array of personalities. However, this is where the resemblance to the Breakfast Club ends, as one of these characters, Simon (Mark McKenna), dies during the detention.
The death quickly becomes treated as suspicious, and the rest of the series follows Addy (Annalisa Cochrane), Bronwyn (Marianly Tejada), Cooper (Chibuiken Uche) and Nate (Cooper van Grootel), who were in the detention with Simon, as they scramble to prove themselves innocent - despite all having a motive.
The premise of this story is fantastic, and the book executes it perfectly. Yet the series felt extremely lacking in terms of both substance and execution. The characters felt far more one-dimensional, with a lot of their original story-lines being watered-down or changed entirely. The acting felt insincere and cringe-worthy in places, which distracted from the tension of the plot.
It was certainly not all bad. The series was fast-paced and easy to get invested in. I also appreciated how the Netflix adaptation raised real-life issues such as abortion, wealth disparity and toxic relationships. I wouldn’t say I didn’t enjoy watching the series, but I felt it could have been far better executed.
The biggest disappointment was the conclusion of the series. It has been left far more open-ended than the book, in order to allow the possibility of a second series, but in doing this they have sacrificed the crux of the plot. This meant that the shock ending achieved so well in the book fell a little flat in the series, as I personally didn’t feel it quite made sense.
As I mentioned, this series may be far more enjoyable with no preconceived plot expectations. However, I still feel that it was very evident that both the plot and the acting left something to be desired.