Review: ‘You’ wildly entertaining, leaves feelings of unease
Ryan Moore, Co-Editor-in-Chief
The thriller series, “You,” that originally appeared on Lifetime in Sept. was recently added to Netflix. As a result, the semester break binging ensued, and the show quickly gained fame across social media. “You” finds success in the way it builds tension, develops character and, frankly, disturbs viewers.
The main character of the show is Joe Goldberg, played by the handsome Penn Badgley, known for his role of Dan Humphrey in “Gossip Girl.” The familiarity some viewers may have with Badgley certainly plays a role in the quick attachment viewers build to the character.
Additionally, the show is guided by Joe’s inner monologue, so viewers build a large understanding of the way Joe operates. The makers of the show expertly interject the backstory of his previous failed relationships, his childhood and his life as a bookstore clerk. The way he is shown taking care of his neighbor’s son by buying him food and fueling the boy’s love of reading makes Joe hard not to like. However, viewers must force themselves to hate Joe as his behavior quickly becomes more and more disturbing as the episodes progress.
While Joe is the main character, Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) is the center of both Joe’s and the viewer’s gaze. In the first episode, Joe meets Beck at the bookstore, falls instantly in love with her and uses social media to find out everything about her — including where she lives.
From this point on, viewers are set to watch Joe’s pursuit and stalking of Beck. Beck, a struggling poet and grad student, fits the archetype of the damsel in distress. She allows Joe to fill the role as the man that will save her. In the process, however, her friendships are put to the test. Shay Mitchell, familiar from her part in “Pretty Little Liars,” plays Peach Salinger, the best friend of Beck. Peach quickly asserts herself as Joe’s adversary. Being the entire show is filtered through Joe, a great deal is done to make the viewer hate Peach; however, it is soon realized she is Beck’s only hope against Joe’s malicious advances, veiled by his “nice guy” persona.
The show does a great job of building tension and suspense while still being painfully predictable. Every nightmare Beck faces can be seen from a mile away and, like a trainwreck, all one can do is watch the horror unfold. Although, it is here that some of my reservations about the show emerge. Making Joe so likeable and Beck a helpless character caught between Joe and Peach makes the show worth an entire season of my attention. In the end, though, Beck is never given the redeeming moment she deserves, and Joe comes out on top without any lesson learned or repercussions.
“You,” like any show, has its faults; despite any shortcomings, it is certainly worth a watch for the sake of the thrill and chill down your spine.
This article was originally published in the Feb. 2, 2019 issue.