One of Us is Lying: A Comparison


Over the years, film adaptations of many popular books have underwhelmed their awaiting fans. In a more recent addition to this trend, One of Us is Lying, a book that took the reading community by storm, has officially been released as a live-action series on Peacock. Fans of the original story are sure to scrutinize the show, looking for things that kept to the source while denouncing things that did not.

On Oct. 7, the eight episode series premiered as a premium product of NBCUniversal’s streaming service. As with the book, the first episode kicks off with the most frightening of events, anti-hero Simon Kelleher’s death.

The book and television series revolve around four main characters: Cooper Clay (Chibuikem Uche), Bronwyn Rojas (Marianly Tejada), Addy Prentiss (Annalisa Cochrane), and Nate Macauley (Cooper van Grootel), each one now a suspect of murder after witnessing Kelleher’s death in such a close, closed vicinity.

The book itself is split into three parts: Simon Says, Hide and Seek, and Truth or Dare. Due to the difference in watch time versus reading time, the show includes many more details and backstories than originally offered. Through these, the viewers get to learn more about character relationships, especially those between Simon and the suspects.

Though these details may not be considered canonical to the book, they were a welcome look deeper into each individual. Still, this may be the only positive twist the series offers.

As implicated, there were many downfalls to the television adaptation. The first misstep is with Jake Riordan’s role As with the book, the series has Jake Riordan play an important part in the orchestration of Simon’s death, just in very separate ways.

As implicated, there were many downfalls to the television adaptation.”

In the book, Simon is suicidal, and it only takes a slight push from Jake to send him over completely. To ensure that his death did not go unnoticed, he enlists Jake’s help, motivating him with knowledge of Addy’s betrayal. As an accomplice, Jake continues with the plan after his death, though he falls deeper into the role than necessary. In the series, however, he is not just an accomplice, he is the primary criminal; he doesn’t help Simon with his plan, he sabotages it.

The book’s originality came from Karen M. McManus’s ability to twist the idea of a murder case completely on its head. This change in the series strips the story of this, and completely changes the narrative that captivated so many people.

This isn’t the only major change made either. One of Us is Lying, the book, ends on a conclusive note, with Addy, Bronwyn, Nate, and Cooper finally learning the truth about Simon’s death and Jake getting arrested for his involvement. For the show, the directors chose to turn this on its head.

The “Murder Club”, Addy, Bronwyn, Nate, and Cooper, suspects him, but never gets a chance to confirm their suspicions when they kill him during his attack on Addy. Not only did this leave it with an inconclusive ending, it also removed the unique aspect of a planned suicide/framed murder concept–switching it into a banal murder mystery concept instead.

In spite of its few positive attributes, the balance of the One of Us is Lying series falls considerably lower to the negative side. By chasing for longer air time over capturing the story’s remarkable details, the show is dangerously close to being yet another disappointment on the extensive list of screen-adapted books; hopefully, the implied second season can tip the scales more favorably.