Nora sitting on her living room couch
"Nora sitting on her living room couch," Tell Me Lies, "Merry F*cking Christmas," directed by Sam Boyd, 2022, (Hulu)

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Alongside meeting Stephen’s mom, Nora, Lucy finally reveals the full details about why she and her mom are at an impasse.

Aired (Hulu) September 21, 2022
Director(s) Sam Boyd
Writer(s) Chisa Hutchinson
Introduced This Episode
Nora Katey Segal
Georgia Kennedy McMann
Sadie Alayna Hester
Vince Cody Ray Lee
Lydia Natalee Linez
James Garrett Hines
Abby Kulani Kai
Daniel Stephen Jared

This content contains pertinent spoilers.


The Struggle To Be Someone’s Second Choice – Stephen, Diana, Max, Lucy

With Christmas break ahead, Lucy is hoping to spend some time with Stephen, and Max is hoping to spend time with her. It’s an unfortunate love triangle, by no means in Max’s favor, but he has grown accustomed to her disappearing for weeks and has thus far accepted it. As for Diana? She is working hard, alongside her dad, on figuring out a summer internship for Stephen, which he appreciates. But, with heading home, he finds himself mentally focused on preparing for his mom over either of the women who want his attention, affection, and love.

Stephen’s Christmas Break – Stephen, Nora, Diana, Vince, Sadie, Abby, Stephen’s Dad (Daniel)

As soon as Stephen gets off the bus, Sadie, his little sister, begins to prep him for the worst, and Vince, the golden child, Nora’s favorite, makes it clear nothing has changed. Nora is still a piece of work. One who has her moments, but as she ropes Stephen into stalking his father’s new girlfriend, who is very much pregnant, it becomes clear that on top of her being a narcissist, the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree.

But luckily for Stephen, Vince is moving back, and the amount of doting he is willing to give to Nora may satisfy her to a point. Maybe not enough for when Sadie leaves, for she’d rather go to a boarding school in New Jersey than wait two years for college, but Vince is something.

As for Stephen’s dad? He is awkwardly absent for the most part, not even sending a text or calling his children as he focuses on his new family. But when Stephen goes to his house, asking for a signature so Sadie can go to boarding school, Stephen’s dad doesn’t ask questions or make snide comments. He just does the absolute least he can do for the family he clearly left behind.

Yet, despite all this gloom and the annoyance of having to be so sensitive to Nora’s feelings, Diana popping up gives a short reprieve. It would have been longer, but her revealing she hooked up with Wrigley during welcoming week sours the mood for Stephen.

Lucy’s Christmas Break – Lucy, Georgia, Lydia, James, CJ, Max, Stephen

Originally, the hope was, after spending time with her family during Christmas, Lucy could be with Stephen going into the day after. However, he blows her off, leading to Lucy contacting Max. Since he is genuinely interested in her, he leaves his family, who he likes, to be with her, but their situation sours after Lucy reveals why she hates her mom so much.

A long story short: CJ cheated on Lucy’s dad in the final months of his life with her dad’s favorite person, James. In fact, on the day her dad died, Lucy was stuck handling that alone for over three hours because her mom turned off her phone to have private time with James. So while her dad was trying to fight death, dealing with his body going into shock, Lucy was stuck without any sort of aid.

Now, you may question where was her sister Georgia? That isn’t gone into. You may even ask why she didn’t call her best friend Lydia; again, that isn’t noted. All that is made clear is CJ wasn’t there when Lucy and her dad needed her the most, and she has held that against her since she was 15, and CJ doesn’t even know Lucy is aware of the affair.

After hearing all of this and considering how Lucy sometimes acts, Max proposes that maybe she is depressed. That comment, which happened way before there was an acceptance or willingness to label mental diseases or disorders, is taken offensively, and Lucy comments that it feels dismissive. Thus leading to her beginning to push away and Max having enough, for he has shown up and done all he can.

Thus leaving Lucy spending some time hoping Stephen will text, but when Lydia calls, she takes that as a welcome distraction, especially since Lydia’s now ex has betrayed her. This gives Lucy the reason to punch him, to get a cathartic release, and live up to being as immature as Max says. Though, as much as that gave her some relief from her tension, going to Macy’s memorial and realizing she and Stephen were connected just puts that weight right back on her shoulders.

Things To Note

Episode Content

  • Dialog: Some cursing
  • Violence: Lucy punching Lydia’s ex
  • Sexual Content: No actual sex acts this episode
  • Miscellaneous: Drinking

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Where does Bree go for Christmas break?
  2. Where did anyone go for Christmas break? We don’t hear what Wrigley, Evan, Pippa, or anyone did. It’s like, once they left campus, Stephen and Lucy didn’t care.

What Could Happen Next

  1. Maybe learning what everyone did over winter break?
  2. Lucy, as much as she sees her relationship with Stephen as casual, pushing for it to go deeper by asking questions about Macy, among other things
  3. Diana, who saw Lucy call Stephen, and him playing it off as an unrequited crush, confronting Lucy
  4. Nora flipping out on Stephen for helping Sadie get into that boarding school



Remembering A Time When Saying Someone Had Depression Was Worth Starting A Fight

It’s easy to forget that, only a couple of years ago, maybe a decade, people weren’t very open about mental health, therapy, or psychology as something to willingly seek out. You wouldn’t hear, as we did on the latest episode of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” about kids and teens having anxiety, seeing a therapist, and that being normalized on tween/teen entertainment. Heck, even for young adults, being called crazy was the norm if the idea of something not being right with you was brought up.

So for Max to bring that up and Lucy to have such a reaction, even if not aggressive, shows you how far we have come and how the show wants to stay true to the time. Not to forget, it also gives you insight as to why Lucy sticks with Stephen. He doesn’t challenge, push, or label who she is. He enables the worst in her sometimes, which is far more comforting than someone who wants to see you do and be better.

Yes, it is toxic, but if you are used to living in a city, why would the water, the air, or anything like that smell or taste bad to you? That’s normal compared to going to Costa Rica or another place that isn’t as polluted, and you having to adjust to what you see as foreign, even if it is what should be the norm.

Seeing Stephen’s Home Life

Crafting a bad boy is always tricky. You have to make him sympathetic to soften his edge, and with Stephen, you can see that mission get accomplished. Nora is a piece of work that any kid would want to escape, and when you add in Stephen’s dad not only abandoning his kids with Nora but starting a new family sneakily? It’s no wonder Stephen is as he is.

With being raised by a narcissist who will make you feel bad for not doing what she expected or what makes her ego feel propped up, you may act like Stephen too. You’d want love from multiple sources out of fear that, like a light switch, someone may turn off the flow and leave you in the dark. As Diana has picked up on, people like Stephen, while a challenge to love and be with, at the same time, a part of you hopes that you can love them beyond the pain and maybe bring them out of the self-imposed darkness they have grown comfort in.

But, as with Lucy, there is a need to question how comfortable is Stephen in this environment? Does he want better in his personal life or just in his professional life? People like him and Lucy are so afraid of change, they’d rather suffocate and die than explore new ways of living life, and it is going to be interesting to see since we know Stephen lives up to Bree’s wedding with Evan, where he ended up. Never mind if Diana is still with him or not.

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Nora sitting on her living room couch
Tell Me Lies: Season 1/ Episode 5 “Merry F*cking Christmas” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
A break from college life is well deserved, and getting to see Stephen and Lucy’s home life answers so many questions while leaving us in the dark about their futures.
Remembering A Time When Saying Someone Had Depression Was Worth Starting A Fight
Seeing Stephen’s Home Life

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