Warning: This story contains spoilers about the plot of Tell Me Lies season 1.
A chaotic conclusion to a complicated relationship. After providing some context for present day events in season 1, Tell Me Lies ended the finale with a bang when it came to Lucy’s (Grace Van Patten) future with Stephen (Jackson James White).
During the explosive episode, which aired on Hulu in October 2022, viewers returned to Lucy and Stephen meeting at Bree and Evan’s engagement party. This time, however, there was more history behind the first conversation since their offscreen split. While Lucy tried to have minimal interaction with her ex-boyfriend, Stephen introduced (or more specifically reintroduced) the audience to his fiancée — Lucy’s childhood best friend Lydia.
The surprising twist came on the heels of a difficult glimpse into Lucy and Stephen’s continuous ups and downs. After attempting to have a healthy relationship during Lucy’s freshmen year, Stephen ultimately decided to pull the plug on their romance by getting back together with his ex Diana (Alicia Crowder).
Tell Me Lies, which is based on a novel by Carola Lovering, wove an emotional story about Lucy’s toxic romance with Stephen during her freshman year of college. (Meanwhile, the book covered an eight-year time period of the duo’s respective lives.)
Before the hit series premiered, showrunner Meaghan Oppenheimer opened up about bringing the unlikable character to life.
“Some people hate him and have no forgiveness for him. Some people don’t like what he does, but they still like him at times. I think it will really depend on people’s personal experience as well and how much he triggers them,” she told Hollywood Life in September 2022. “But I think at least you will understand him more than in the book. Not that you don’t understand him in the book, 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.”
For the screenwriter, it was important to “humanize” Stephen when thinking of the show’s long-term story lines. “If someone is just completely, there’s no hope for them, then there’s not much space to play with that,” Oppenheimer added. “I think Stephen is going to be very polarizing, just from what I’ve experienced so far.”
White, for his part, also offered a glimpse at how he scored the role, telling Esquire that same month, “I wasn’t really afraid of how I looked in these auditions or how I was being perceived, and I think that perfectly lined up with this guy. Stephen’s superpower became not caring what other people think, and that worked with this fed-up attitude I was having in my career.”
Scroll down to find out what questions were answered — and what we still need answers to — following the season 1 finale of Tell Me Lies: