Editor’s Note- This article contains spoilers for “You” Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot.”]
Disturbing, troubling and poetic. Those are three words I would use to describe Lifetime’s newest psychological thriller, “You,” starring Penn Badgley of Gossip Girl, Elizabeth Lail of Once Upon a Time, and Shay Mitchell of Pretty Little Liars. From the producers of Supergirl, Riverdale, The Flash and other teen favorites the idea of the show is to portray the mind of an obsessive man, Joe, who falls for an attractive young woman named Beck, the instant he sees her at the bookstore he works at. Seemingly, Badgley’s character is a “regular Joe,” (pun intended). He is the young gentleman who aids elderly women into their cabs and helps out the kid who lives next door but he is much more than what meets the eye.
The show begins as Joe, who narrates the events in the episode, sees Beck for the first time. He instantly starts analyzing her, judging her and even talking to her in his head. He reads into her every action, as they exchange smiles and little jokes, assuming they were all attempts to flirt with him. Badgley’s performance in You is particularly interesting because it builds on a creepy persona that many characters he has played can identify with. Lovers of Gossip Girl would enjoy Badgley’s new show, because both shows are about men that fall too hard, too fast for girls in a love at first sight situation, and they do whatever they can to keep track of her. In Gossip Girl, Badgley’s character Dan exposed and exploited the girl of his dreams, Serena, but in You, Joe’s only goal is to protect Beck from her lifestyle, her negligent boyfriend and her clique of friends. Although Joe obviously makes questionable choices when following around a girl he barely knows, his heart is arguably in the right place when he attempts to keep her safe. A huge part of the show is the inner monologue, which points out to the viewer how judgemental Joe can be. Yet, he falls head over heels in love with the poetess the second she appears in the bookstore and feels an urgency to protect her against her own desire for attention and normalcy. On the surface, Joe is a good guy and Beck is just a pretty girl trying to pay the bills. Deeper down, Joe is a troubled man who needs to protect something and Beck is the damsel in distress who needs to be saved.
The acting in the series is decent for a Lifetime drama, which are known to be a little cheesy. The pilot episode focused almost completely on Joe, and the acting Badgley contributed displayed how much of a thriller this show is going to be because everything that will happen between him and Beck is going to be conceived in his own mind. The interactions between the two characters are captivating because there are so many things that Beck doesn’t know about and so much meaning behind everything Joe says that she can’t even begin to realize. Unless, perhaps one day she turns around and sees her admirer through her apartment window, in a crowd by the bar, or peering through every other peephole in her life and the story of how she was being followed starts to unfold. That probably won’t happen though, because ultimately Beck is clueless. Lail is the perfect actress for that type of role- a poetess who wants to be noticed as both a woman and a writer. She’s relatable- she wants a guy who doesn’t ditch her, she wants to be noticed and she wants the New York dream. Lail does a good job at displaying these qualities, and it was enjoyable to watch her do so.
Overall, this show was entertaining. It was by no means mind-blowing, but it was a little bit of a thrill and it was interesting to see the inner workings of the mind of a stalker who doesn’t aim to hurt the person he follows. I would recommend this show to lovers of Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Riverdale. If you like romance with a bit of a twist, you’ll love You.
Featured Image Via LA Times