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‘Past Lies’ on Hulu Is a Swirly Spanish Mystery

‘Past Lies’ on Hulu Is a Swirly Spanish Mystery

Gather ’round, old friends, for it is time to recall the big, terrible event of that night long ago — that night when we swore a solemn oath to bury this secret, and yet now, somehow, perhaps 20 full years later, the horror of it still affects us all! Why must every group have a prodigal troublemaker whose return dredges up these old memories? Can we not leave the past in the past? Maybe our recollections differ — we can confront this in flashback, or maybe just in the pounding rain. The first person who cries and says “But she was our friend!” loses.

“Past Lies,” a six-part Spanish drama (available only dubbed, weirdly) on Hulu, is the latest swirly mystery about a group of now-grown women haunted by their teenage pasts. “Lies,” though, is more frank than much of its brethren, more streamlined and grounded.

Rita (Elena Anaya) is a well-known film director who reluctantly returns to her hometown, Alicante, Spain, to settle her mother’s estate. Despite initial dodges and awkwardness, she winds up folded back into her high school clique, starting with a brittle dinner party. The different kinds of hugs Rita exchanges with each of these former friends is one of the juiciest, most detailed scenes I’ve seen in ages — decades of longing and disappointment depicted in the twist of one shoulder blade.

The reunion becomes even more strained when the police identify the remains of Mati, a classmate who vanished during a senior trip to Mallorca. Mati’s younger sister, Paula (Irene Escolar), is one of the investigators, though it’s hard to imagine how she finds time for police work when she is so busy scowling and chewing gum. Paula is convinced these women know more than they’re telling her, and she’ll comb through home videos the girls shot as teens to prove it.

Part of what makes “Past Lies” intriguing, beyond its appealing chicness and gorgeous setting, is that the central mystery is not one agreed-upon lie. The women each have different suspicions, different secrets they wanted to keep back in the day or maintain now. The show is a saga not about simmering teenage blood lust or the freaky, warped horrors of girldom, but rather about the natural contours of regrets, the bittersweetness of regarding one’s youthful passions.

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