New Tell Me Lies revolves around another toxic affair

Tuesday: Tell Me Lies (BBC One, 10.40pm & 11.30pm – Scotland 11.40pm & 12.30am)
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Good-girl/bad-boy relationships between two beautiful young people are nothing new, particularly in US dramas.

Think Elena and Damon in The Vampire Diaries, Blair and Chuck in Gossip Girl, and Brenda and Dylan in Beverly Hills, 90210.

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And this Hulu series, created by Meaghan Oppenheimer and based on the novel by Carola Lovering, revolves around another toxic affair as it traces the lives of Lucy Albright (Grace Van Patten) and Stephen DeMarco (Jackson White) over the course of eight years.

Lucy Albright and Stephen DeMarcoLucy Albright and Stephen DeMarco
Lucy Albright and Stephen DeMarco

Tonight’s first episode opens in 2015, as we see Lucy’s friends doubting her ability to keep from “going down the whole Stephen rabbit hole” again during another couple’s wedding day.

And if Lucy and Stephen’s faces when they catch sight of each other across the lawn are anything to go by, it seems very unlikely they’ll be able to resist falling back into old patterns for very long.

Having offered us a glimpse of Stephen and Lucy’s future, the series begins in earnest on freshmen Lucy’s first day at the fictional Baird College in New York State back in 2007, during which Stephen corners her at a frat party.

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From then on, we see the couple’s relationship take shape, as Lucy spends years wriggling on the hook of a man who goes from being villainous and callous to sweet and vulnerable in the blink of an eye.

Actress Van Patten, the daughter of American director Timothy Van Patten, spoke to Screen Rant in 2022 and explained why she thought the main characters were so attracted to one another.

“She knows that he’s not treating her well, but she’s not going to end it,” the 27-year-old said.

“She’s too obsessed with this guy. She’s completely lost herself, and I think that’s unfortunately very common in that situation. Especially when it’s your first time being in love and enamoured with someone, and you’re completely obsessed, you lose control of yourself because you don’t know who you are yet.

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“Love makes you do crazy things that you wouldn’t do in any other relationship, in any other friendship, or even with family. It can really mess with you.”

Mrs Fletcher star White has been praised for his portrayal of the complicated Stephen and Van Patten also outlined why she thinks his character is the way he is.

“Stephen’s actions are a way for him to protect himself because he feels so unsafe in his home environment,” she says. “He doesn’t really let his guard down.

“You really empathise with him when he goes home, and you see his family dynamic. You understand him more and why he does what he does, and it just makes sense a little bit.”

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As well as Lucy and Stephen’s relationship, Tell Me Lies also follows the lives of their friends including Bree (Catherine Missal), Wrigley (Spencer House), Pippa (Sonia Mena), Evan (Branden Cook), Drew (Benjamin Wadsworth) and Diana (Alicia Crowder).

There is also a mystery surrounding the death of Lucy’s college roommate, Maisie in a car crash. And in tonight’s second episode, Lucy tries to move on from the tragedy by accepting Stephen’s invitation to go on a date.

But did the bad boy have something to do with Maisie’s death?

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