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Let's face it, now we're caught in the lie...

"This is the story of how me, Sami Reese, and my brother became rock stars, with very little talent and a whole lot of lies."
Sami

Little White Lie (found here) is a musical webseries consisting of 11 episodes that was created in 2007 by Team StarKid but did not get very popular until 2009 after the creators found success with A Very Potter Musical. It was funded by a $20,000 grant from a contest sponsored by Disney for pilot pitches; like many Web series from this era, it was made in hopes of getting picked up by Disney as a full length TV show. (It wasn't, the creators gave up on work in mainstream TV, made a stage show parodying Harry Potter in their newfound free time, and the rest is history.)

The plot centers around two siblings, Sami and Duder Reese, who long to be rockstars. Unfortunately their musical talent is... limited and they are the Butt-Monkey of their Battle of the Bands-obsessed school. Sami wants to beat her rival Alpha Bitch Tanya in the next competition so she and Duder search for a third member to liven up the band. They get a response from a shy boy named Kevin but before he properly auditions he is put into a coma by a hit-and-run. Sami and Duder go over to his house later and are shocked to discover that he has written several great songs. Sami steals his work and the band, now named Little White Lie, perform them at the battle. They lose to Tanya (who had bribed the judge) but are offered a chance to record by a local producer.

Drama ensues as Sami and Duder try to keep the truth behind their songs a secret while facing sudden popularity. Tanya jealously begins to go after Sami as she is stealing not only her popularity but her boyfriend, Toby, and searches for information about Kevin.


This work provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Meredith is the drummer for the Hot Girls thanks to Meredith Stepien being a drummer in real life.
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: Mostly Sami at first, though it starts to get to Duder by the time he buys an all-white designer outfit to be in theme for the future Little White Lie album cover.
  • Adults Are Useless: Very few adults are seen or get involved in the plot at all. All we see of Sami and Duder's parents is her dad surprising Sami and Toby in her room with Orange Juliuses.
    • Artistic License Law: Much is made of the kids signing contracts and getting record deals with no mention of whether they're legal adults and need to get their parents involved. In particular, Kevin being in a coma is presented as a reason he can't give permission to use his music and Sami has to lie, when in real life they could just ask his aunt on his behalf.
  • All There in the Manual: The credits list the full title of The Ex-Boyfriends' song "You Left Me" as "Tanya (You Left Me)", implying all of them are Tanya's ex-boyfriends.
  • Alpha Bitch: Tanya. It gets deconstructed.
    Sami: Why? You're the coolest girl in school Tanya, everybody loves you!
    Tanya: Everybody hates me.
  • Always Someone Better: Among all the wannabe musicians at Arborland High, Toby seems like the only one with serious talent... until Sami comes along and blows him out of the water. Of course, she's faking it, and the real genius was Kevin all along.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Sami thinks Tanya's obsession with Kevin is her Pulling the Thread on her lies. It turns out she genuinely wants to get closer to Kevin because she Must Make Amends for being the one who hit him, and is totally blindsided and outraged when she discovers what Sami did.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Duder to Tanya in episode 11.
  • Anti-Hero: Sami, of the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist variety. She feels bad about lying and stealing Kevin's songs, but she does it anyways, all to selfish ends.
  • Artifact Title: In-universe, Tanya's "Save Calvin" campaign is still called that after she realizes that his name is Kevin, since she already had a bunch of merchandise printed.
    • Out-of-universe, Darren Criss released the song "Sami" on his Human EP, prompting wild speculation on Sami's identity from people who didn't know this show existed.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Hunkytonk's song sounds like it's a song about a Lost Lenore, much like the Ex-Boyfriends' "You Left Me", until the last line of the chorus reveals it's about a truck (in a Take That! toward Country Music).
  • The Band Minus the Face: The Hot Girls, after they fire former Face of the Band Tanya. Interestingly while Meredith seems to be angling to become the new face of the band, it's Alexa who's replaced Tanya as the Alpha Bitch of the Hot Girls as a Girl Posse.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Tanya, when she's modeling Zach's Little White Lie T-shirts.
    Tanya: If I tie it up like this, everyone can see my tiny little tummy. And it covers up the picture of Zach in back.
  • Beta Bitch: Meredith. Pulls a Backstabbing the Alpha Bitch to upgrade her status.
  • Breakthrough Hit: "It's Over Now" for Little White Lie.
  • British Rockstar: Love Grenade is a band built entirely on this stereotype. It's not clear whether there just happen to be four British students at this Michigan high school, or it's a Fake Brit situation.
    • Record store owner Nigel Waters is a retired one of these.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Duder and Sami
  • Butt-Monkey: Various characters are like this at certain points but Sami, Duder, Kevin and Zach stand out the most
  • Cannot Talk to Women: Duder
    Duder: There are so many girls in there, and I can't... I can't talk to them. So... I sit out here... and I wait until they leave.
    Tanya: Duder, that's so sad. Just go in there and talk to them!
    Duder: I can't, I can't talk to them. I... I wouldn't know what to say. I feel like they would think I was an idiot.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: The theme of the Hot Girls' costumes for the battle of the bands.
  • Character Blog: Chris Allen had the idea to give Duder Reese a My Space account hosting snippets of music and random musings. The account was never created, but Allen later posted the clips on YouTube.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Our brief glimpse of the car that hit-and-runs Kevin.
  • Cliffhanger: The last episode.
  • Comic Role Play: Tanya decides to do this to help Duder with his anxiety around girls. Whether she actually suspected she was the girl he was having trouble approaching is unclear.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Duder starts off heartbreakingly innocent, and at first outright refuses to sign a fraudulent document saying Kevin's music is his, forcing Sami to do it. By the end she's pressured him into crimes like stalking Tanya and breaking into Kevin's house to take down his website. Was also planned to happen to Kevin when he wakes up, when his rage at what Sami did drives him to skeevy actions like blackmailing her to dump Toby for him.
  • Creator Cameo: Several, given the creators' limited budget for actors and extras. Co-director Nick Lang plays the Small Role, Big Impact Kevin Bushwald (whose hospital bed is actually Nick's bed in his apartment). Nick Lang's brother and co-director Matt shows up as an extra in the battle of the bands. Writer Eric Kahn Gale can be seen as one of the members of Hunkytonk, as can co-composers Mark Swiderski and Grant Anderson. Chris Allen, Brian Holden and Darren Criss, of course, play major roles as Duder, Zach and Toby, but Darren can also be seen in a hoodie and sunglasses helping fill in the crowd at the battle of the bands.
  • Dark-Skinned Blonde: Sami has a noticeable tan compared to all the other characters.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Tanya
  • Delinquents: Sami and Duder seem to be mildly this. The first episode shows them casually deciding to skip school to play a gig at a coffee shop.
  • The Ditz: Meredith, in spades. Contrast Tanya, who's at least partially faking it.
  • Double Entendre: When Sami thinks she's talking to Tanya's party guests about her burgeoning musical career but they're talking about her upcoming gender reassignment surgery.
    Meredith: So do your parents support what you're doing?
    Sami: Well, they bought all my equipment, so I assume they want me to succeed.
    Meredith: Oh!... High-quality stuff?
    Sami: It's all previously owned, but it's in really good condition.
  • Dreadful Musician: Sami and Duder's original band, Reese's Pieces. They're not bad per se, but they're not good. Tanya and the Hot Girls, however, are bad and they actually get worse after Tanya leaves.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Sami visits Kevin in the hospital and gives him a kiss on the cheek and a "Thank you" after hearing the love song he wrote for her. Of course, this only makes many viewers angrier that even after this she continues to steal his music and use it to pursue Toby.
  • Dumb and Drummer: Jim Povolo in Little White Lie, who is one part The Brute and one part Cloud Cuckoo Lander. Also the Hot Girls, where in an unusual variation of this trope Meredith is both this and The Ditz.
    • In a bit of Take That! towards drummers, Little White Lie first become a smash hit in a live performance where the drums were provided by a laptop, and Meredith has no compunction about replacing herself with synth drums from a keyboard when she upgrades to lead singer.
    Toby: Jim? *holds up drumsticks* I found these in the bathroom again. It's just kinda weird, man.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Meredith Stepien appears in a minor role in this show in 2007 (a "pre-Starkid production"), but wouldn't make her Starkid debut until four years and three productions later, as Mega-Girl in 2011's Starship.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: This show, for Starkid Productions as a whole. Not just Irony as She Is Cast like Lauren Lopez as a Girly Girl, but the near-total lack of Reference Overdosed and Obligatory Swearing, which have become Team Starkid trademarks, thanks to the fact that this show was originally written in hopes of being picked up as a full-length series by Disney's short-lived channel Soapnet.
  • Easily Forgiven: Everyone seems to just forget Jim was first seen on the show as The Bully to Kevin when he auditions to become Little White Lie's drummer. Presumably this would've become an issue when an awakened Kevin demands to join the band in Season 2.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Reese's Pieces playing their signature song, "(Don't) Play a Riff On My Heartstrings", to a nearly deserted coffee shop only to be told by a lone heckler, "You suck!"
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Meredith briefly considers hooking up with Sami if she comes out as a trans man. Even after this is exposed as a fake rumor, she awkwardly tells Sami how pretty she looks when they run into each other at the recording studio.
  • Everytown, America: Implied to take place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where it was filmed.
  • Expy: Love Grenade for Spinal Tap
  • The Fake Cutie: Tanya uses this image shamelessly, thanks to being played by Lauren Lopez.
    Tanya: When I perform, I reach out my impossibly tiny hand and touch every single heart.
  • Flat "What.": Zach's reaction to the band name "Hunkytonk".
  • For Want of a Nail: Discussed by Duder and Sami. If they'd either prevented Kevin from auditioning at all (like Sami wanted) or given him the time to finish his audition (like Duder wanted) he wouldn't have happened to Freak Out! and run into the street at the exact moment a car came by.
    • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: The above becomes extra painful once we realize that had they let him finish his audition and join the band, everyone could have gotten everything they wanted without any of the lies and conflict.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Kevin's delightfully tacky Geocities-style website. Notably has a section for fanfiction — and the most recent news update is him announcing his plans to go to the Reese's Pieces audition and play Sami her song.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Zach. He seems to unapologetically maintain social relevance just by taking over important jobs (organizer of the battle of the bands, promoter for Little White Lie) before anyone else can claim them.
  • Full-Name Basis: Jim Povolo. Also the actor's name in real life, possibly an in-joke among Team Starkid about his name being inherently funny.
  • Gender Flip: Pre-production version. According to Elona Finlay, the original call sheet for Sami Reese said "A girlish boy with a bad attitude". Hilarious in Hindsight since Lauren Lopez, who normally plays actual boys or Tomboys, was originally cast as Sami before being recast as Girly Girl Tanya Freemont. May be the reason for repeated references to Sami being "mannish" despite being played by the very femme Elona Finlay.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    Detective: You are not to share the details of this case with anyone. Nobody at school. No gossip.
    Sami: The next day at school, the hallways were filled with gossip.
    *cut to a series of Vox Pops with wild theorizing on Kevin's accident*
  • Girlish Pigtails: Meredith's hairstyle for battle of the bands.
  • Girl Posse: The Hot Girls seem to be this first and an actual musical act second.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Sami was initially only thinking about winning battle of the bands, and never planned to have to extend her lying indefinitely to support their new social status and career.
    Sami: We're cool now, Duder! We became cool! Now we have to deal with that!
    Duder: I don't WANNA be cool! *runs off*
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Of the "accelerating panic" variety, when Kevin has his anxiety attack at his audition for Reese's Pieces. Happens again when he wakes up.
  • Hidden Depths: Apparently nobody — other than a select few kids he gave a website invite to in middle school — had any idea Kevin was a professional-level musical prodigy until Sami and Duder discover his jam room and recording studio.
    • His website reveals his depths go even deeper than that — he's also a prolific writer, artist and graphic designer... whose work all gets deleted just to protect Sami's secret.
    • Kevin's bully, Jim Povolo, also has these. Apparently when he's not holding "slapping parties" for Kevin in empty classrooms, he's sitting in the bathroom brooding about life and writing angsty poetry.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Everything about the subplot involving finding Kevin's secret website, then deleting it is this. (The URL even has an apostrophe in it!) The YouTube upload for this episode straight up says, "Little White Lie takes place in an alternate universe where the Internet works this way."
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Tanya. And the other Hot Girls for that matter.
  • Hopeless Auditionees: Subverted. We're led to expect one of these scenes when Reese's Pieces hold open auditions of their house, only for nobody at all to show up... until Kevin.
    • Played straight with the sign-ups for the Battle of the Bands.
  • I Am the Band: Kevin, who has recorded several high quality fully produced songs by himself in the secrecy of his home, and has apparently been doing this since elementary school.
  • Idiot Ball: As pointed out in the comments on virtually every video, the entire plot of the series could have been wrapped up if Sami had just said from the beginning that there was a third member of the band—Kevin did, after all, try out—who was in a coma, rather than take credit for it herself.
    • Sami and Duder make no attempt to get close to Kevin's aunt or learn more about Kevin until Tanya has already beaten them to doing so. They even resort to breaking into her house rather than just talking to her to get access to Kevin's computer, even though she already assumes they're Kevin's "close friends". May be a joke about how annoying she is.
  • Idol Singer: Tanya somehow pulls this off despite not really being able to sing.
  • Informed Flaw: Sami being unfashionable or masculine compared to Tanya, although this might be chalked up to Tanya exploiting her popularity to bully Sami groundlessly.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Sami isn't gratuitously cruel to Kevin, but her impatience with him at his botched audition looks a lot worse after we (and she) find out he's madly in love with her and has written a whole catalogue of songs with her as his muse.
  • In-Universe Soundtrack: Most of the Darren Criss songs on the soundtrack turn out to have been composed and recorded by Kevin in-universe.
  • In with the In Crowd: Most of the in-crowd, with the exception of Tanya, are actually fairly decent people, yet Sami still seems to think of them as jerks, and Toby for some reason agrees with her.
  • Ironic Echo: After Little White Lie brings down the house at battle of the band but the judges give the prize to the Hot Girls.
    Sami: It doesn't even matter! They loved us, but she still won!
    Duder (grinning): Yeah, yeah... but... they did love us.
Later, backstage, as Tanya watches Toby praise Sami's performance:
Tanya, icily: We won... but they loved her.
Zach: Yes, but you did win.
  • Irony: Jim is the first one to scream "YEAH!" and start the crowd dancing as Little White Lie performs "It's Over Now," a song that seems to be inspired by the bullying Kevin suffered at Jim's hands.
  • Kick the Dog: At the recording session, Little White Lie runs into the Hot Girls, and the Hot Girls mercilessly mock Tanya.
  • Lampshade Hanging: For plot reasons it becomes necessary to have Duder successfully stalk Tanya for a whole day, which both strains credulity and risks making Duder seem like a creeeper... except the creators made a virtue of necessity and set the sequence to the universally beloved "Duder's a Spy" song.
  • Left Hanging: The season finale has a huge cliffhanger but there's no plan for a season 2. During the StarKid S.P.A.C.E. Tour, the cast gets the crowd excited with the prospect of a second season, only for them to take it all away by saying that there won't be another season. There is a synopsis of Season 2 available, though.
    • The Bully Book is set in the same universe, and Eric Kahn Gale said that the sequel will tie back in to Little White Lie.
  • Leitmotif: Tanya is constantly followed around by a brassy hip-hop beat befitting her Alpha Bitch arrogance — the first time it even has a vocalist chanting "I... have... more friends than you!" As the show goes on and Tanya's popularity unravels, her leitmotif stays the same, eventually becoming hilarious Soundtrack Dissonance when it plays over her Freak Out! while trying to hack Kevin's website (disheveled, sleepless, surrounded by empty Coke cans).
  • Lonely at the Top: The plan for Season 2 was for the band to slowly shed members until Sami achieves fame and fortune as a solo act, only to have her Heel Realization when she realizes how she's driven everyone away.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Kevin likes Sami, who likes Toby, who's with Tanya even though he doesn't really like her, though Zach and Duder both do.
  • Loving a Shadow: The synopsis of the second season has Kevin realizing this about his crush on Sami.
  • Male Restroom Etiquette: Glaringly averted by Jim Povolo, who seems to hang out in a stall all day and brazenly strikes up a conversation with Duder there.
    Jim: DUDER. *peers over stall wall* I'M NOT POOPING.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Tanya bribes Zach to make sure the Hot Girls win Battle of the Bands by promising him a kiss. He does, and she just sarcastically blows him a kiss and walls off. Zach mentally kicks himself, then goes and becomes self-appointed manager for Little White Lie.
  • Mood Dissonance: Tanya tries to adapt her dancing and tone of voice from "Boy Toy" to perform Little White Lie's gritty, angsty signature song "It's Over Now", with truly cringey results.
  • Multi-Part Episode: The first three episodes are a two-parter, a two-parter and a three-parter, thanks to the creators having to do serious editing to make the footage from their early film shoots work.
  • Must Make Amends: Tanya is raising money for Kevin's medical bills because she was the one who hit him.
  • My Nayme Is: Sami spells her name with only one M, and an I.
  • Nephewism: Kevin lives with his aunt. That he doesn't have parents is one of many things that made clear his status as The Woobie, though what happened to his parents is never explained.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Kevin's aunt.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Duder, once Reese's Pieces rebrands as Little White Lie and Sami becomes The Face Of The Band.
  • Obliviously Beautiful: Sami, according to the "Sami" song Kevin wrote for her. Seems to be accurate given her low self esteem. Interestingly, her lie that she wrote the song about herself — because she didn't believe anyone else would see her that way — only strengthens the effect for Toby.
    • May be oh so much more ironic because "Sami" talks like this about Sami's voice, suggesting Kevin has seen Sami perform and thinks she's too hard on herself for her lack of talent.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Sami flashes back on all of Tanya's actions since the accident upon realizing she's the hit-and-run driver.
  • Opening Narration:
    Sami: This is the story of how me, Sami Reese, and my brother became rock stars, with very little talent and a whole lot of lies.
Also one for the series as a whole in the first episode:
Sami: Music. It's an ancient power. Some can wield it, and we call them "rock stars". The question is, are they born, or are they made? All I know is, some people have it, and some people... don't.
  • Painful Rhyme: Oh, so many in "Boy Toy".
  • Pet the Dog: Tanya gets several, as part of her Defrosting Ice Queen arc.
    • When she goes to give Kevin's aunt the money she raised for Kevin's medical bills.
    • In episode 10, when Tanya says that everyone hates her and begs Sami to teach her how to sing.
    • When she thanks Sami for being nice to her and letting her be in the band.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Furious at Sami for kissing Toby, Tanya gives her one in episode 11, calling her out for her incredible selfishness for exploiting Kevin's love for her while trying to get with someone else.
    • Accidental Public Confession: Unfortunately Tanya gets so mad she lets slip she knows way too much about the details of Kevin's accident, when the only other witness was the driver of the car that hit him.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Most fans are more familiar with Kevin's song "Sami" from this show as Ginny's song "Harry" from A Very Potter Musical.
  • The Reveal: Tanya was the driver in the hit-and-run.
  • Rich Bitch: Tanya lives in a Big Fancy House, drives a nice car while Sami and Duder bike everywhere, and apparently owns a piano she doesn't know how to play.
  • Rude Hero, Nice Sidekick: Sami and Duder, to a tee.
  • Serious Business:
    Sami: This is Arborland High, where being in a band means everything.
  • Shout-Out: In a series almost devoid of overt ones, two of them only exist as Painful Rhymes for "Boy Toy": "You look just like Brad Pitt from Troy", and "You're magic just like Siegfried and Roy".
  • Shrinking Violet: Kevin.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Sami and Duder, of the Red Oni, Blue Oni variety.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: We briefly see Kevin in the first episode, and then he's in a coma. His existence is absolutely central to the plot though.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Title: It's ambiguous whether the band is called "The Hot Girls" or "Tanya Freemont and the Hot Girls". At first, anyway.
  • The Starscream: Meredith has been establishing herself as a better singer and dancer than Tanya for a while before she strikes.
  • Stepford Smiler: Tanya smiles all of the time, even when she is extremely angry. Part of her contrast with Sami, who's a bit of a Perpetual Frowner.
  • Stylistic Suck: "(Don't) Play a Riff on My Heartstrings" by Reese's Pieces and "Boy Toy" by The Hot Girls, as well as the other non-Kevin songs we briefly hear from the other battle of the bands acts ("You Left Me" by the Ex-Boyfriends, "Fancy Machine" by Hunkytonk, "Love Grenade" by Love Grenade).
  • Sucks At Dancing: Tanya's drummer from the Hot Girls tries to show her where in the rhythm the "butt grab" move in their signature dance is supposed to go. She ends up just dropping it completely.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: According to Word of God, the only actor cast off of Craigslist rather than the proto-Starkid social network was Rita Khori as Alexa (the Hot Girls' bassist), because of her ability to do this.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: In-universe, everything about the Hot Girls, right down to Tanya saying "Boy Toy" is a "song about believing in yourself" when it clearly isn't.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Interesting mix of this and "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune. The theme tune "Caught In A Lie" is sung from Sami's POV by a female vocalist (though not her actual actress). Toward the end of the series, we hear a song with the same tune from Kevin's recordings — only, his version of the song has completely different lyrics, singing about his forlorn hope for success in the future, rather than the theme tune singer's regret for success built on lies.
  • Theme Naming: All of the acts at the battle of the bands have one of these (including, initially, the cheesy sibling act Reese's Pieces). Lampshaded when Tanya brings her boyfriend onstage with her.
    Sami: Toby's in the Hot Girls?
    Duder: That doesn't make sense. Toby's not a hot girl.
  • Time Passes Montage: Played for Laughs with the Reese's Pieces auditions. We expect a Hopeless Auditionees montage and instead get Sami and Duder flopping around killing time for hours when no one shows.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Sami and Tanya.
  • Tomboyish Name: Sami. Lampshaded when Tanya starts a rumor she'll soon be transitioning to "Sam".
  • Tragic Hero: Sami, according to Word of God, with her Tragic Mistake taking Kevin's music. Everyone in the cast does bad things, but none of it would've happened if not for that one decision.
  • Trespassing to Talk: Tanya does this to Sami in episode 9 after finding out she stole Kevin's songs.
  • Unfortunate Name: Duder, although we're never told if this is a nickname.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Sami doesn't put much effort into brushing her hair except on special occasions. (Interestingly, Elona Finlay says her hair is very naturally straight in real life and she had to get a perm to achieve Sami's "grunge princess" look.)
  • Wangst: The defining trope of The Ex-Boyfriends and their music. A Take That! to 2000s Emo.
    Zack (reading band name): Still not over it, huh?
    The Ex-Boyfriends (mumbling): No... No... It's normal...
  • What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?: Sami's spur of the moment decision to change the band's name to "Little White Lie" at the battle of the bands seems to be a guilt-induced form of Tempting Fate.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Kevin owns a full band's worth of top end musical instruments that make Duder and Sami drool, along with a fully equipped recording studio, in stark contrast to his aunt's seemingly modest home. Possibly purchased with his inheritance after his parents died.
  • Your Cheating Heart: The biggest blot on Toby Phillips' Nice Guy image is the fact that despite being in a relationship with Tanya he starts putting the moves on Sami the first chance he gets.


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