Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Tell Me Lies Showrunner Discusses The Complexities Of Developing Stephen's Character

It's pretty normal to root for love in television shows, to latch onto that pair that seem to like each other or have good chemistry, and hope that they can find a way past all the obstacles of life and discover some version of happily ever after. It's how we become so obsessed with whether Ross and Rachel from "Friends" are going to work things out or wonder whether Carrie and Big from "Sex and the City" will ever break out of their toxic cycle and have an emotionally mature relationship.

When it comes to silently abusive relationships in television or films, we're often at a loss of how to respond because we prefer outwardly awful characters that we can hate. We know that Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) and Celeste (Nicole Kidman) have an unhealthy relationship from the first episode of "Big Little Lies," but despite seeing his controlling and manipulative behavior towards his wife, it's only when he becomes physical that we really identify him as the bad guy.

While fans of the book that "Tell Me Lies" is based upon know that Stephen is a monster, the Hulu series showrunner, Meaghan Oppenheimer, decided to leave it up to the audience to decide.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

She tried to make him less hateable

For "Tell Me Lies" showrunner Meaghan Oppenheimer, it was important to make Stephen, played by Jackson White, somewhat likable. "Even though he's lying and manipulating, I was hoping that the audience — those who haven't read the book — would be surprised," Oppenheimer told Decider. "Because that's the whole point of this kind of relationship. You're like, "Is he a bad guy? No, he made me feel good. I feel sorry for him because of this thing."

Oppenheimer makes it clear that the viewer's own story and personal experiences will also affect how they view Stephen, and that the series has a certain freedom in their storytelling. "Not that you don't understand him [Stephen] in the book," she told Hollywood Life. "But we delve into his personal life and his backstory and his family a little bit more, and we tried to explore why he is the way that he is."

It's understandable that "Tell Me Lies" had to make Stephen a bit more human, considering it's a series, and obviously Oppenheimer is hoping for a Season 2 and beyond. Whether the audience thinks there are any redeeming qualities left in Stephen after the "Tell Me Lies" finale remains to be seen.