My most recent Netflix obsession has been the 10-part drama/thriller series “You” which tells the story of a young bookshop worker named Joe who becomes increasingly obsessed with a beautiful girl who comes into his store. Told from Joe’s POV, this show starts off as a typical rom-com scenario and slowly turns into the twisted journey of a dangerous stalker. Only, of course, Joe doesn’t see himself that way. He’s the hero of his own story from start to finish.
Here are my thoughts from this really unique and engaging show:
~ It had me gripped from start to finish
If I’m honest, there isn’t much television that keeps me binge-watching. I tend to dip in and out of shows depending what mood I’m in and only binge on my absolute faves. ‘You’ had me hooked from the very first scene, right up to the tense finale. I felt the pacing was perfect with a 10-episode season and the slow but steady unraveling of the story made me keep pressing that “Next Episode” button. Every scene and interaction had a purpose, and the psychological thriller aspect was addictive as Joe descended further into madness with each episode.
~ Prepare to feel very conflicting emotions all the way through
Joe is the ultimate unreliable narrator and seeing the story play out from his point of view will leave you conflicted. One minute you may be swooning at his perfect Prince Charming act with scenes so cute and romantic you wish they would happen to you in real life. The next minute, his controlling, manipulative mind kicks into action and the true horror of the “romantic gestures” really hits you. We as women are very much conditioned to want the sweet, perfect rom-com fairytale and this show perfectly captures the potential dangers of falling into that trap. Beck is blinded by the story Joe is presenting to her and it stops her realising what his true intentions really are.
~ All the characters are flawed which makes for an even more interesting watch
Whilst Joe is the creepiest creeper who ever creeped, the object of his obsession Guinevere Beck is hardly a perfect saint either. She’s messy, she’s shallow, she’s complicated. She does infuriating things that make you dislike her so much you almost start sympathising with Joe. I really like that they took this approach as having the perfect ‘stalkee’ wouldn’t have been half as interesting. Beck will drive you nuts, but does that mean she deserves Joe’s abuse and manipulation?
~ The whole story feels scarily close to real life
In this tech-obsessed world, it’s easier than ever to know everything about a total stranger. I can totally imagine a real life Joe out there using an unsuspecting woman’s online trail to worm his way into her life. There is also something very realistic in Joe’s entitlement to Beck’s affection and definitely reflects the way some guys think about women and relationships. He genuinely sees himself as a “nice guy” and the heroic white knight of his own story, as do so many other people in real life who are justifying their own questionable actions.
~ I love Shay Mitchell as Peach
I have a bit of an obsession with “Pretty Little Liars” so I loved seeing Shay in a new role. Peach is a lot bitchier and cooler than PLL’s Emily, but I think she pulls it off. I read some people online complaining that she didn’t have the right vibes compared to book-version Peach, but I really liked all the scenes with her in, especially when she was the only one trying to bust Joe.
~ Just when you think Joe can’t get worse or creepier, he gets worse and creepier
Seriously… the creepy level just ups and UPS. The ways in which he worms his way into Beck’s life, controlling every aspect of it and “protecting” her from people he doesn’t approve of is insane. The scariest part is that he convinces himself everything he is doing is right and from his point of view, where he normalises his obsessive behaviour, you almost forget just how horrific his actions actually are. Also… THAT CREEPY BOX OF STUFF, UGH.
~ There is a trans character whose story arc doesn’t revolve solely around being trans
Blythe is played by trans actress Hari Nef and the main things we know about her character is that she’s an amazing writer and she finds love with Joe’s adorkable bookshop assistant. It’s so refreshing to see diversity like this on-screen and I loved Hari in this role. A lot of stories about trans characters revolve around their struggles and battles, which of course is important, but it’s just as important to see people from all walks of life as regular side-characters living their daily lives.
~ You may find Joe kind of hot and Penn Badgely will shame you for it
There is no getting around the fact that Joe is HOT (especially to us Gossip Girl fans) and when he is being Prince Charming TM and saying all the right things to Beck, it’s easy to forget that his character is a manipulative psycho. Many girls tweeted about how lovely and swoon-worthy they found Joe, which caused the actor Penn Badgely to publicly call them out on romanticising what is quite clearly a toxic relationship. There have been a lot of questionable power dynamics played out onscreen over recent years (think Aria and her teacher in Pretty Little Liars, 50 Shades Of Gray etc.) and I think it’s great to get discussions going about why in real life these relationships would be very unhealthy and problematic. We all enjoy fantasy scenarios, but when people bring these expectations to their real lives, it can be dangerous. I love the fact “You” shows the potential consequences of romanticising manipulative behaviour, and that the actors behind the characters are willing to keep talking about this issue even when the cameras stop rolling.
~ It started as a Lifetime show and I think that makes me love it more
I am a sucker for the cheese on Lifetime and I only just found out that “You” started life on the channel before it’s Netflix debut. It all makes sense… the soft lighting, the melodrama, the long internal monologues. All super Lifetime-y. You know what, it just makes me love the show even more. Because Lifetime shows are THE BEST.
~ The majority of the film crew and researchers who worked on this show were women.
Enough said. No wonder I enjoyed it so much! ;)
~ It’s a timely, necessary show and the perfect social commentary on the dangers of modern dating
There are so many shows and movies out there with the perfect Disney, fairy-tale theme of love and romance, but this show breaks down all the classic rom-com tropes, flips them on their head and makes you question why you believed in them in the first place. Neither Joe nor Beck are in love with a person, they are in love with the idea of a person, and this story plays out the darkest consequences of running away with those ideals. It also highlights the entitled “nice guy” complex among some men and how they really, really aren’t as nice as they like to think they are.
All that’s left to say is… when does Season 2 come out?! Because after THAT ending, I really wanna know what’s gonna happen next…!