Teen murder mystery shows
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Why We Love This Teen Murder Mystery

Two teen murder mysteries came out last fall. Why did only one have us on the edge of our seats?
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Peacock and Amazon Prime tried their hand at teen murder mystery shows. Still, only one had me watching episode after episode nonstop. Peacock’s One of Us Is Lying and Amazon Prime’s I Know What You Did Last Summer both premiered in October 2021, just in time for spooky season. But only One of Us Is Lying had me on the edge of my seat, concerned about the characters. And that’s a shame because the original I Know What You Did Last Summer movie was iconic when it premiered. So, why exactly was Peacock’s show better than Amazon Prime’s?

Here’s your only spoiler warning!

What’s With the New ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’?

The Teens in I Know What You Did Last Summer premiere
Amazon | Sony | Off Center, Inc. | Original Film | Mandalay Television | Atomic Monster Productions

Amazon’s addition to the cult classic franchise changed a few key elements from the 1973 book and 1997 film. The two most significant changes were modernizing the tale by adding social media and adding a dead twin to the mix. And just those two changes were enough to get me interested.

The show starts with a party – one of those stereotypical ones we always see in shows and movies but probably haven’t ever witnessed firsthand – where all the main characters gather for one last night of freedom before graduation. But one argument between twins Allison and Lennon ends in disaster.

A year later, the teens make their way home – but so did a killer intent on revenge for that unfortunate night. Each of the remaining seven episodes either killed a character or brought them pretty close to death. The last episode reveals everything behind the mystery, of course, but the resolution left me unsatisfied.

Who Are the New ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ Characters?

Allison-Lennon and Margot in I Know What You Did Last Summer
Amazon | Sony | Off Center, Inc. | Original Film | Mandalay Television | Atomic Monster Productions

The teenagers involved in “what happened last summer” are Allison (pretending to be her twin Lennon), Margot, Dylan, Riley, and Johnny. Lennon is “what happened last summer” after Allison hit her with her car.

Madison Iseman portrays the twins. She’s best known for her role as Bethany in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Jumanji: The Next Level. Margot was played by Brianne Tju, who is no newcomer to the horror genre. She was in Light as a Feather and season three of Scream.

Dylan is played by Ezekiel Goodman, Ashley Moore portrays Riley, and Sebastian Amoruso plays Johnny. I Know What You Did Last Summer is the breakout role for all three actors, with all having just a few acting credits in big-budget projects before this.

What Is ‘One of Us Is Lying’?

One of Us Is Lying Peacock series promo photo
Universal Content Productions | 5 More Minutes Productions | Peacock

Peacock snatched the film rights to Karen M. McManus’s debut novel, One of Us Is Lying, and they did a fantastic job. It starts out like any other teen show, introducing us to the four main suspects in this mystery show. It also showed us the narrator, who just so happens to be the dead student.

On the first day of school, Addy, Cooper, Bronwyn, and Nate are in detention with Simon. After streakers distract their teacher, Simon starts having an allergic reaction to something he drank. While Addy stands stunned, the other students try to help to no avail.

The rest of the episodes focus on the investigation by the group of suspects to clear their own names. The last episode reveals what really happened that day and who had planned the whole thing. The ending scene sets up the next mystery for season two.

Who’s Who in ‘One of Us Is Lying’?

One of Us Is Lying four main suspects peacock series feat
Universal Content Productions | 5 More Minutes Productions | Peacock

The four main suspects are Addy, Cooper, Bronwyn, and Nate. Throughout the show, the press refers to them as “The Bayview Four,” with Bronwyn being the “Brains,” Cooper being the “Brawn,” Nate being the “Bad Boy,” and Addy being the “Blonde” or “Princess.”

Addy is played by Annalisa Cochrane, best known as Yasmine from Cobra Kai. Chibuikum Uche plays Cooper and is best known for Lieutenant Ikemba in The Tomorrow War. Bronwyn is portrayed by Marianly Tejada, known for 2019’s The Purge. Nate is played by Cooper van Grootel in his first breakout role.

Simon, the character who dies in the first episode and narrates the rest of the show, is played by Mark McKenna. You may recognize him from Amazon and Youtube’s Wayne. His character created a gossip website that exposes secrets about his classmates. (That’s one reason he was killed.)

The other significant characters in the show are Addy’s boyfriend, played by Barrett Carnahan (Alexa and Katie); Janae, Simon’s best friend, played by Jessica McLeod (The Unforgivable); and Maeve, Bronwyn’s sister, played by Melissa Collazo (Freaky). Maeve is actually a protagonist in the sequel novel, One of Us Is Next.

Where Did ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ Fall Short?

Addison-Lennon and Bruce in I Know What You Did Last Summer
Amazon | Sony | Off Center, Inc. | Original Film | Mandalay Television | Atomic Monster Productions

To be honest, once you’ve seen the 1997 I Know What You Did Last Summer film, you’ve seen all of the franchise. And that statement stands true with this show for the most part. The plot felt predictable even when you didn’t realize you were expecting the twists.

None of the characters were really likable, even when we’re supposed to be rooting for them. The only semi-likable character, Johnny, lasted two episodes before being killed off. And don’t even get me started on Allison and Lennon’s parents – they were absolutely horrendous people.

The relationships felt a little too forced, specifically between Allison, Margot, and Dylan. The last episode focused on which love interest Allison would go with (I’ll get to why she chose the right person later), and I struggled to finish it.

Not to mention they set up an opening for season two with a supposed-dead character waking up in the last seconds of the show. But then Amazon canceled it with no reason as of yet. If they had just let them stay dead, I wouldn’t be wondering what might have happened.

But Where Did’ Last Summer’ Go Right?

Addison-Lennon in I Know What You Did Last Summer
Amazon | Sony | Off Center, Inc. | Original Film | Mandalay Television | Atomic Monster Productions

The cast was the best part of Amazon’s I Know What You Did Last Summer. I loved seeing a more diverse cast compared to the past franchise installments. And each cast member did so well in their roles that I look forward to seeing more of their work one day.

Despite not loving the story, I think there were some emotional moments. When Johnny died, I did cry for him even though I barely knew his character. And I did jump a little with other shocking deaths. I just wish there’d been more emotional moments throughout the show.

Another addition to the story was the twin aspect. I always love seeing twins switch places, and this was very reminiscent of The Lying Game series by Sara Shepard (the books, not the horrible television show). I just hope a network picks up The Lying Game again and gives it another chance at the screen.

There Were Some “Meh” Moments in ‘One of Us Is Lying’, Too

Maeve, Janae, Addy, Bronwyn, and Cooper in One of Us Is Lying
Peacock | Universal Content Productions

Before I get into why I think One of Us Is Lying, let me talk about the few parts that had me cringing or losing interest. The main one was the haircut they gave Addy halfway through the show. I get that she was supposed to chop her hair off as rebellion, but it could’ve been styled a bit better.

I also wish they’d changed the ending a little bit to follow more in line with the books. But I can always hold out hope that once that next mystery wraps up, Peacock will adapt the next book in the series, One of Us Is Next, following some of the side characters.

I will be honest, there were some differences from the book that I wish hadn’t happened. But if I separate the show from the book a bit more, it doesn’t bother me much. I also wish the secrets had been released a little slower, but those are minor nitpicks.

See related: ‘One of Us Is Lying’: Just In Time for Spooky Season

Overall, ‘One of Us Is Lying’ Is Just More Compelling

Simon and Janae in One of Us Is Lying
Peacock | Universal Content Productions

Based on my back-to-back watch-throughs of the shows, I had to give One of Us Is Lying credit because it made it really hard to finish I Know What You Did Last Summer. I didn’t know who to root for because I wasn’t sure if they had kept the same killer from the books or pulled a Pretty Little Liars twist.

I also think the casting for this show was just as perfect as I Know What You Did Last Summer. It was diverse, as that’s how the book was written. And I didn’t feel like any of the major characters were one-dimensional like some of the Last Summer characters felt.

Having Simon narrate the show from beyond the grave felt like the perfect touch for the show. Instead of having the four suspects tell their sides like in the book, we’re kept even more in the dark while still getting glimpses of their secrets.

The soundtrack for One of Us Is Lying was also superb. While I liked the music featured in I Know What You Did Last Summer, I was singing along whenever a song played in One of Us Is Lying. And then I had to rewind to actually pay attention to the scene.

What’s Next for the Shows?

Cooper and Bronwyn in One of Us Is Lying
Peacock | Universal Content Productions

I Know What You Did Last Summer was canceled in January. So, for those that want to know what happens when Riley woke up and Allison and Margot ran off to live life together, you’re a little out of luck for the rest of the story.

If you want my two cents on how that would turn out, here’s another spoiler warning. Riley would tell the police the whole story, and Allison and Margot would be fugitives. Dylan would be released and be on the hunt for the two girls for vengeance.

On the other hand, One of Us Is Lying is coming back for a season two at some point. Peacock renewed it around the same time Amazon canceled their show. And while we don’t know anything about the plot yet, I’m still holding out hope the next book gets its adaptation, either in next season or a possible season three.

Who’s ready for more teen murder mystery shows?