A Review on ‘You’

Source: tvseriesfinale.com

Source: tvseriesfinale.com

Helen Peng, Editor-in-Chief

“I’ve been watching ‘You,’” is my response when people ask what I’ve been doing with my free-time second-semester senior year. With the help of my roommate Sarena Patel’s emotional support and cellular data, we sat huddled on her bed against the wall binging the Lifetime Original on Netflix during the span of three days. Approximately 10 hours of Netflix isn’t exactly what a productive day as a MSMS student looks like, but the show was worth it and perhaps ‘You’s’ 92% on Rotten Tomato’s confirms my opinion.

Based on the book “You” by Caroline Kepnes, its synopsis is refreshingly twisted and oddly romantic. Enter the life of Joe Goldberg, played by Penn Badgely, the manager of Mooney’s, a run-down bookstore in New York City. Goldberg seems average in nearly all aspects. He’s got a decent job in New York City, lives in a mediocre apartment with rowdy neighbors, and has a liking to Meatball Subs. With brown hair and a five-o-clock shadow, “Joe isn’t a Liam Hemsworth, but he’ll do,” according to Patel. But don’t judge a book by its cover.

“You” starts as the doorbell to Mooney’s jingles and a pretty blonde woman walks through the glass door. As Joe watches from the shadow of the bookshelves, the blonde catches his eye. When they introduce themselves, Joe learns that the woman’s name is Geneviere Beck, played by Elizabeth Lail, and Joe is instantly captivated by her. As Joe Googles her after meeting her, at first it may seem like the usual 21st-century crush, but soon Goldberg has found her street address, watches her from the windows as she dresses, and seems to follow her everywhere. Joe learns that Beck is an aspiring poet, pursuing her Master’s after graduating from Brown. He is convinced that Beck is lost in life and needs someone like him to save her, to guide her, and to, arguably, control her. After eventually keeping Beck’s phone to see her texts with her friends, Joe is officially a stalker but has also successfully started a flowering romance.

While Joe’s actions are no doubt creepy, Joe’s persona and charisma are what make “You” worth watching. While “You” follows Joe’s narrator’s voice during a series of mystery-like situations—burning of bodies and break-ins included—it is also hard not to sympathize with Joe to some extent. He takes his neighbor’s child Paco, played by Luca Padovan, under his wing during abusive family situations and is, all-in-all, a nice guy. In short, there is no break in Joe’s “good” persona, and absolutely no reason to suspect him as a psychopath from his outward actions. On top of that, Joe’s interactions with Beck are enduring, and it is obvious that he loves her and does want the best for her. This, however, raises the question of how much is too much in the Book of Love? In his narration, Joe constantly claims that everything he does is for her and to protect her, and many times his actions do lead to positive outcomes for Beck. Joe is pretty much the perfect protagonist in a RomCom, but instead of racing across NYC on New Year’s Eve like in “When Harry Met Sally,” Joe’s grand love gesture is the ‘disposal’ of inhibitors to his romance. But is this true love or some romantic complication of obsession?

Still, “You” isn’t something to watch for depth. Though it has a good plot, an interesting romantic/mysterious twist on a romance/thriller, and is a good thriller, “You” is not excellent in any sense. In other words, “You” is great to occupy time—or waste it in my case—but there is little traction or good characterization in the show itself. In fact, I found none of the characters in particular likable except for the appearance of John Stamos as a therapist.

But in any case, “You” is a wonderfully thrilling and, frankly, emotionally confusing book. As Patel states, “I want a man like Joe, but I don’t!” So, if you are looking for a show to binge with friends or a series with reliable suspense, “You” is for you… just try not to be overly critical.