TV Review: You (Season One)

Netflix’s creepy new thriller You, based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Caroline Kepnes, dropped at the end of December with ten incredibly tense and creepy episodes that will have you on the edge of your seat and wondering what the hell will happen next.

Image credit: ©2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I hadn’t read the novel before I watched the show, a rarity for me, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect from it, other than what I’d see in the trailer. I think this actually worked in my favour this time though, as I was constantly surprised by the turns the show took, in a way that I wouldn’t have been if I’d read the book. Plus, watching the show has now made me want to pick up the book -never say that media adaptations of novels can’t bring new readers to the source material.

Penn Badgley is utterly incredible in his role as Joe Goldberg, the supposed “nice guy” turned psychopathic stalker. It is difficult, however, to see him as anyone other than Dan Humphrey in Gossip Girl, especially given that Dan was rather bookish and adept at cyber stalking as well — but of course, Joe Goldberg is a completely different kettle of fish.

Image credit: ©2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Badgley throws himself into his performance, and it is truly terrifying how believable he is in the role. Joe is quite a difficult character to get your head around, because you see him doing terrible things to people and yet he truly believes that he’s a good guy. Just when you think you couldn’t hate him more, he does something sympathetic — and this is when You takes its darkest turns, because we start unwittingly sympathising with a psychopath. It’s what makes the character such an effective stalker, and Badgley’s performance here should definitely be commended.

Shay Mitchell also turns in a magnificent performance as Peach Salinger (yes it’s a ridiculous name, I know), who proves to be a worthy adversary for Joe. Watching her and Joe play off against each other provided some of the most entertaining moments of the Netflix drama. It’s clear that both actors have been in similar shows before ( Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars respectively) but You provides them with even darker drama to get their teeth into, and both show off the full range of their dramatic acting skills.

Image credit: ©2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Beck is a tricky one. Joe’s behaviour towards her is categorically not okay but I did have to check myself towards her several times, because she is just so ridiculously stupid about her own safety. She has no blinds on the lowest floor of an apartment building, so anyone can see in, she has all her social media settings on public and generally seems to have no regard for her own safety, which completely terrified me throughout. None of this is to say that she deserves what Joe does to her at all, because she definitely does not, but is terrifying how easily Joe is able to track her and stalk her. Elizabeth Lail performs her role well, but perhaps by design, her character is not quite as compelling as Badgley’s.

Still, as we progress through the ten episodes, you see that there is a lot more to Beck than meets the eye, and questionable decisions about privacy settings aside, it’s hard to deny that she is a complicated and well-drawn character. Add to that the fact that Lail and Badgley have considerable chemistry together, you spend the entire series walking the line between “aww, these two actually work” and GET OUT OF THERE NOW BECK.

Image credit: ©2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The voiceover technique used will probably be either a hit or a miss with viewers — personally I loved it, as it allows the watcher to get inside Joe’s (and at points Beck)’s head, and intensifies the creepy factor even more as we are able to see the difference between his incredibly creepy thoughts and what comes out of his mouth.

The ending was completely wild, I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, but I have so many questions after the way episode ten ended that I can’t wait to see what happens with things going forward.

You is pretty much perfect for anyone who loved either Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars, as it definitely has vibes of both shows, but is for a more adult audience — it’s incredibly well acted, completely disturbing and suspenseful, and will leave you with far more questions than answers. After binging all ten episodes, you may very well be considering turning all your social media to private and dropping off the grid for a while.

You is streaming on Netflix now. Season 2 of the show, based on Kepnes’ follow up novel Hidden Bodies, has already been announced.

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