One of Us Is Lying showrunner Darío Madrona explains why this isn't just another Elite
This ain't no lie: While Netflix's hit drama Elite and the new Peacock series One of Us Is Lying both come from the same showrunner and revolve around a murder mystery set in high school, they are not the same show.
Darío Madrona went from creating the fan-favorite Spanish soap straight into adapting Karen M. McManus' best-selling novel about five teens who walk into detention, only to have four make it out alive, but he tells EW that One of Us Is Lying isn't just an American version of Elite. Plus, he reveals how much fans will learn about the murder at the center of the series by the end of the first season, how closely the show follows the plot of the novel, and so much more. Read on for details.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How is One of Us Is Lying different from your last teen murder mystery series, Elite?
DARÍO MADRONA: On the surface, they do kind of feel similar. It's a murder, it's high school, it's teenage kids. But if you dig a little deeper, they're different in tone. The structure in Elite, because we had the flash-forwards, the terrible things hadn't happened yet in the present of the story, so people were more worried about hooking up with each other, having sex, having fun — little everyday dramas — while in the present of our story in One of Us Is Lying, they are murder suspects. They have to get out of this sticky situation. So the stakes feel higher throughout the show.
What sets One of Us Is Lying apart from all the other teen murder mystery shows that have come before?
What makes One of Us Is Lying different from all the teenage murder mysteries is the fact that this is also a story about friendship. It's about four strangers that wouldn't normally give each other the time of day — they're not friends — finding themselves and each other during this ordeal and actually becoming friends. That kind of light in the story, that's not common in murder mysteries. Where we are right now in the world in the situation we find ourselves in, to me it's great to be able to tell a story where we're saying to people when you work together, when you find friends, you're actually able to get out of difficult situations in life and maybe even triumph in the end.
What is it about this genre that keeps bringing you back to it?
I honestly just found myself doing these two shows back-to-back. I didn't look for it, but it did happen. What I find myself attracted to is I love mysteries. I love stories that hook you and you want to get to the end to know the answer to the big mystery. But at the same time, it's almost an excuse to tell the story of these characters. The mystery is the hook, but then you have all the character work that's beautiful that we give you little by little throughout the story. And also I find myself drawn to teenage stories because when you're dealing with teenagers, everything is so heightened. Everything is a matter of life and death. Failing an exam is life and death. Your best friend not calling you back is a matter of life and death. Everything is so big that as a writer, as a creator, it's just so rich to tell stories that are full of everyday drama.
How closely did you want to follow the plot of the book, knowing you have both people who read the book and people who know nothing about the story watching the show?
We all love the book, so we wanted to be faithful to it. We've been faithful to the spirit of the story and the themes and the characters, but also trying to add some little twists and turns here and there so we can surprise readers of the book, expand the story a little more. We tried to be faithful because the book is great — I read it in less than 24 hours when I got it. But at the same time, we wanted to add a little more spice to it and more elements to play with, and hopefully surprise people who read the book and think they know what's coming.
Are we going to learn who the killer is by the end of season 1, or do you envision this as a multi-season mystery?
By now, and this is my opinion, you cannot ask people to hold on to that question for more than one season anymore. I think they will just lose patience and not follow you for the journey. I think there's also something incredibly satisfying about being able to tell a whole season story in which we answer the biggest question we throw to the audience. So yeah, by the end of the season you'll know who killed Simon [Mark McKenna], which doesn't mean that you have all the answers to the mysteries in the story.
What are you most excited for people to see from season 1?
Funny enough, I think I'm most excited for the small stuff. Some scenes, some character interactions. I'm really drawn to the unlikely friendships and seeing characters interact on screen; some of them are in the book, some of them aren't. Those little moments, to me, are the ones that I'm excited to see what people think. And then of course the big twists as well. [Laughs] You want to see those YouTube videos of people reacting to the episodes when something unexpected comes up. But it's those smaller character moments between characters who may or may not have a relationship in the book.
The first three episodes of One of Us Is Lying debut Thursday, Oct. 7, on Peacock, with episodes 4-6 dropping Oct. 14 and the final two episodes coming Oct. 21.
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