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The Ending Of Tell Me Lies Season 1 Explained

"Tell Me Lies" is the story of a group of college freshmen and their friends whose lives are changed forever by a single night. They're fashionable — by late-2000s standards, at least — and wealthy for the most part. They are also very dishonest.

At the center of the drama is Lucy Albright and her tortured love affair with the charming and incredibly shady Stephen DeMarco. Their push-and-pull relationship not only provides a lot of the drama in the show, eventually it becomes a kind of black hole that everyone else is circling. 

One might call it Netflix's "You" meets MTV's "Undressed" — a classic story of undergraduates about to have, are currently having, or who recently had sex with each other, speeding through their assignations with a dizzying velocity. Or you could possibly call it "Cat Person: The Series" very loosely based on the 2017 viral short story by Kristen Roupenian. Either comparison makes a certain kind of sense. 

And although Stephen DeMarco isn't a stalker or serial killer as far as we know, he has a lot of sociopathic or narcissistic tendencies that can make him a bit hard to understand. Perhaps that's what Lucy sees in him, after all. 

Each episode of "Tell Me Lies" subtly focuses on a different character, so that's what we'll do here. Let's see where everybody ends up and talk about our hopes for a Season 2.

This article contains major spoilers for "Tell Me Lies" Season 1, and that's no lie. 


Bree's journey is one of the most interesting of the season. She starts as a former foster child who doesn't really mind letting people know where she came from or that she's on financial aid. On a show called "Tell Me Lies" where almost everybody is constantly lying to each other about everything, Bree's honesty really jumps out. 

She's also one of the few people on the show who looks Stephen in the eye and calls him out, which shows she has the backbone to go with her honesty. He's smart to be wary of her, as she has a piercing gaze when it comes to her closest friends. It's interesting to consider how things might have gone differently if Bree had ended up in Macy's position. Can you see a scenario where Stephen and Bree hook up? It's hard to imagine.

Bree and Evan are both wholesome, sweet, and prone to getting crushes, which is cute — and it's a thrill to see them get engaged. After both of their hearts get crushed a few times freshman year, we'll take our happy endings where we can get them. And as Evan is the richest person in the group, Bree has an interesting trajectory to follow as she joins him in high society. The engagement party is so lavish that it's almost hard to imagine the wedding.


Wealthy, sweet Evan provides a lot of support for his friends, although he feels left out when he sees other people getting close. When we meet him at the start of the show, Evan and Bree are celebrating their engagement in 2015, so we know things end pretty well and happily for him. But before all that, Bree and Evan take their time, crushing on and dating other people.

When we leave him in 2007, he has just told Stephen that he wants to get his own one-bedroom apartment alone, just as Stephen loses his housing. Of course, Stephen reacts quickly to this news, since it involves his self-preservation, but their relationship has been falling apart for some time. One of the sadder parts of this season is watching Evan become more and more disillusioned with his friends, as he explains in an angry drunken rant at his lake house.

While he's not perfect, Evan represents a type of virtue that is all too uncommon at Baird College, and one of the show's chief pleasures is getting to know him. Here's hoping for a soapy Season 2 that doesn't send him too far off the rails...


Drew, who believes that he killed Macy by leaving the scene of their accident, is a mess the entire semester. What he doesn't know is that Stephen DeMarco was driving the other car and Stephen, not Drew, is ultimately to blame for Macy's death. 

This gives a whole new meaning to Stephen's kindness and solid support when Drew comes clean about the accident, and it reframes all of their interactions. As ever, Stephen is acting according to his own self-interest even when it seems like he's being selfless — a trick he learned from his mother. Paradoxically, he legitimately cares about Drew and what he's going through. 

In the end, Drew is so traumatized that he attacks his brother Wrigley, which topples Wrigley from a high deck and leads to a career-ending injury. Drew's disillusionment is the perfect ending to what is absolutely a wreck of a freshman year.

At the engagement party, it is implied that Drew isn't around to see 2015, which means the ramifications of Stephen's actions continue to unfold in ways we haven't seen yet.


The delightful Wrigley is an enigma in some ways, given that he will hook up with anyone — even his best friend's girlfriend — while still caring the most about the rest of the crew. The only slight chink in his armor, in fact, is his dismay at finding out he has a learning disability, which is neither a secret nor is it a surprise. 

Wrigley is interesting because of his simplicity — he really is what he seems to be. While he's not as honest as a Bree or an Evan, there is something implicitly honest about the way Wrigley goes about his life. He says what he's thinking, no matter the consequences, meaning it's less of a choice for him to be honest than it is for some of his scheming friends. Wrigley simply Wrigleys, and everyone is usually happy to accept him for that. 

Of course, after his final injury during the fight with Drew and his failed physical therapy, his entire life goes off the rails. When we meet him again in 2015, he's really leaning into cocaine. But he's still friendly and sloppy and good at heart, which stands him in good stead. 

Think of it this way: Bree and Evan are honest because they want to be, whereas Wrigley lacks the intellectual and emotional tools necessary for being a good liar. He's honest because he has no alternative. 


Pippa has just as many secrets as anybody else on the show, but hers are more sad than nefarious. Growing up depressed and lonely, Pippa ends the season halfway hooking up with Lucy's roommate Charlie after a season of ups and downs with football star Wrigley.

Pippa explains how she was catfished by the mean girls at her school, which led to her transferring to a new high school for her last year, and we are invited to take a fresh look at her. She's not the confident, sexually mature, worldly Pippa that we first meet at all — but one thing "Tell Me Lies" is saying is that we fake it 'til we make it. In Pippa's case, that means she has the same effect on her friends, and the story, whether or not she's really who she pretends to be. 

As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in his novel "Mother Night": "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." Ultimately, Pippa becomes who she pretends to be — a caring, sophisticated individual who can see through everybody else's lies. She has better things to do than obsess about boys and dating, just like she always pretended.


It's surprisingly easy to find yourself on Diana's side, even when she's being a little cruel. Diana, perhaps the MVP of the story, and Stephen are evenly matched intellectually and in terms of overall ferocity, but that's not what makes them a good couple. When they end the season together, much to Lucy's shock, it's because they have shared goals and are both similarly intense.

The real tragedy with Diana is how much Lucy likes and looks up to her, despite how they constantly hurt each other. Diana would be a very good ally for Lucy to have — she's professional, driven, brilliant, and talented — and there's a real tragic irony to the fact that they will never, ever be friends. One wonders what would have happened and how the show would be different if Lucy had become friends with Diana before anything else went down. 

Another season of the show could be worth it just to watch the painful awkwardness of Diana and Lucy trying to interact with each other, which is an ugly kind of pleasure Season 1 only offers every now and again. It's that perfect, familiar mix of performative friendliness, jealousy, and hostility that looks good on absolutely nobody but can be thrilling to watch.


For someone we don't spend a lot of time with, Macy has a major impact on the events in the show. One of the most mysterious aspects of "Tell Me Lies" is how it holds back so much of the information in order to focus in on Macy for the finale, telling the events of Welcome Week through her eyes. 

In this version of things, Macy isn't being honest with herself or with Stephen when she pretends to be cool with just hooking up rather than being friends or being seen out together. Stephen's handsome, charismatic, and pretty good at manipulating people, so of course she wants to know she could have him if he wasn't with Diana. 

Her death is tragic and unnecessary. A malfunctioning seatbelt and head-on collision kill her pretty instantly. It doesn't seem likely that Stephen ever would have treated her with respect, but she seemed to be on the path to figuring that out when her life was cut tragically short. Although, we're still left wondering what the deal is with her parents. They are weird enough to make it seem possible that they'll come back in a later season.

Stephen DeMarco

Incredibly shady, sweet, and abusive in equal measure, Stephen's downfall is his own brilliance. Like a serial killer in a movie, Stephen's so entranced by his own intelligence and ability to lie that it blinds him to the fact that he's always on the verge of making that one terrible mistake that will bring everything down. 

We learn over the course of Season 1 that Stephen gets his manipulation and lying skills from his mother — a lowkey but plenty disturbing Katey Sagal. This makes him a great foil and love interest for Lucy, who shares a lot of his mother's issues in terms of lying, manipulating, and obsession...

Stephen DeMarco is one of the more genius creations of recent television. The whole show is so crisply written and wonderfully acted that it almost seems unfair to pull out one performance, but it must be said — the entire show rests on Stephen DeMarco's shoulders. The antagonist played by Jackson White isn't only an agent of drama, but the emotional center around which the rest of the story revolves.


If you think you've seen Lucy Albright somewhere before, it might be because Grace Van Patten is a chameleon of an actor who's been in plenty of things you might never recognize her from — most recently the prestige drama "Nine Perfect Strangers" starring Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy. 

Lucy is quite a character. A gifted writer and fabulist, Lucy also has a cockeyed sense of honor that makes some of her actions a little difficult to understand. Once we meet and get the full story on her mother, however, it makes a bit more sense. Lucy is just as affected and smothered by her maternal relationship as Stephen DeMarco is — albeit in different ways. Lucy's mother is technically a cheater, like Lucy; like Stephen's mother, Lucy's mom is manipulative, brittle, and capable of turning on a dime.

Lucy's main fear going into freshman year is that she has no feelings. Her first act on the show is to break up with her high school boyfriend without a shred of pain or remorse. By the end, she's found her match in Stephen DeMarco, who only cares about his own feelings. Their love is a toxic morass in a lot of ways, but you can't say they don't make a pretty pair.

Welcome Week: 2007

So what happens at Welcome Week? Let's review. We could probably use the memory refresher, since a lot of the details are held back until the finale and the story keeps reassembling itself in different shapes. 

Macy has been hooking up with Stephen since high school, including during the moments before she meets Lucy in their dorm room. Stephen is hiding this fact — as he hides everything — because of his relationship with Diana. He pretends not know Macy well at the first-night party, which is where he meets Lucy. 

Later, Macy calls him to a party off-campus, and he spends the entire time outside the party with her. They have sex and she finally figures out that he's hiding her and their relationship. They are both too drunk and high to drive, but Stephen takes the wheel. When she accuses him of being a "bad person" — which is totally accurate and applies to almost every other character on this show — he stares at her just long enough for Drew to run them off the road. 

Stephen wakes up to find that Macy is dead in the seat next to him, so after a few moments of panic he moves her to the driver's seat and heads back on foot.

Engagement Party: 2015

Lucy's stress hives are all she can think about as she reconnects with the rest of the gang after four years, which means they are all in each other's lives at least until graduation ... assuming any or all of them graduate, of course. 

Wrigley makes a huge mess of things as usual, as he flops around the poolside party greeting everyone as gregariously as he possibly can. Something Pippa and Lucy did wrong is vaguely mentioned, which we're led to think has to do with Macy's death but could just as easily refer to something we don't know about yet.

Perhaps most interestingly of all, the "Tell Me Lies" Season 1 finale almost didn't return to the engagement party according to showrunner Meaghan Oppenheimer. If the show remained in 2007 start to finish, it would seem like more of a one-shot deal and we wouldn't be thirsting for a second season. But since they went to the trouble of filming this grand party as a framing sequence, we think it's more likely than ever that further seasons are planned. Now, we wait.

When does Tell Me Lies Season 2 air?

While we wait for news on a possible "Tell Me Lies" Season 2, it might be fun to imagine the kinds of stories the show could tell. After all, by setting the engagement party in 2015, the show gives itself pretty much infinite runway to potentially tell seven or more years' worth of stories. 

We'd love to see another season telling the story of the girls' sophomore year mixed with 2015 wedding drama. Especially given the surprise reveal that somehow in the intervening years, lawyer Stephen has himself gotten engaged ... to Lucy's high school bestie, Lydia. 

That switcheroo alone has us waiting for an announcement, because we have to know how that happened. Is it just a coincidence, because they live in nearby towns? Or is Stephen up to something? Actually, Stephen is definitely up to something, because he always is. That's why we'll miss him.