You premieres September 9th on Lifetime.
By Ariba Bhuvad
From the guy who brought us classics like Dawson’s Creek and gave us the entire Arrowverse on the CW comes Lifetime’s psychological thriller drama, You. Greg Berlanti along with Supernatural’s Sera Gamble teamed up to bring this on-screen adaptation of Caroline Kepnes’ novel by the same name.
You tells the story of a young bookstore manager named Joe Goldberg, played by Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley. When a beautiful girl named Beck (Elizabeth Lail) comes into the bookstore one day, it sparks an obsession with Joe that leads to some very questionable and frightening behavior. In the first five episodes given to critics, we got a pretty good idea of Joe’s obsession, and the path that reveals what lengths he is willing to go to ensure Beck will be a part of his life.
Honestly, I was a bit skeptical given the premise is very typical of a Lifetime show/movie, but I have to say I’m pretty impressed. While the plot is the classic stalker storyline, there is something about how Badgley plays the role so well that brings you right into the heart of what is unraveling. Not to mention, Lail plays the conflicted, traumatized damsel in distress role so well and watching Badgley’s character, Joe, take note of that and involve himself in her life is impressively jarring.
What stands out about You is that the way Joe inserts himself into Beck’s life is done with such tedious planning and precision. It’s so creepy and scary but yet it also sets the series apart from other shows like it. Particularly what really keeps you invested in every episode are the voiceovers. Usually, we’re anticipating what horrible things are to come, but in You we know precisely what’s coming because Badgley is narrating Joe’s every move, thought, and plan. It’s almost like we are a part of his mind, which is terrifying as he engages in voyeurism amongst many other alarming things.
Badgley’s portrayal of Joe is commendable, and I have to say I got progressively scared of him with every passing episode. It’s almost like the story that could have been if Dan from Gossip Girl didn’t end up with everything he ever wanted, and in place of Beck, it would be Serena. Interesting thought, right?
Along with Lail and Badgley, the supporting cast played a pivotal role in executing and displaying just how obsessed Joe was with Beck. This includes Pretty Little Liars’ Shay Mitchell, who plays Beck’s extremely wealthy best friend, Peach Salinger. Let’s just say that Peach is onto Joe’s questionable behavior, and it makes for some interesting moments as the series goes on. It’s likely she is just as obsessed with Beck as he is, so it’ll be interesting to see how the story proceeds in the back half of the season.
While there are some predictable moments and outlandish attempts from Joe to immerse himself into Beck’s life, I was able to look over that and focus on the precision and talent with which Badgley executed his character’s mania and infatuation. I’m not entirely sure if people can do some of the things his character was able to do, but hey we’ll roll with it because ahead of the season 1 premiere in September, Lifetime has already renewed the series for a second season!
I give You a B+.