Starring Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail, Luca Padovan, Zach Cherry, and Shay Mitchell.
Based on a novel by Caroline Kepnes, You is a controversial show that debuted on Australian Netflix in December, after starting on Lifetime in the US.
The show centres on Joe Goldberg, a bookstore manager who becomes obsessed with a woman named Guinevere Beck, stalks her, and then dates her. He comes into conflict, however, with Beck’s friend Peach, who also harbours feelings for Beck and is deeply suspicious of Joe. The show becomes a gradually escalating battle for Joe to retain his relationship with Beck.
Throughout, we see boundaries stretched and then outright abrogated as Joe spies on Beck through social media, an old phone, and her window. Characters are constantly spying on one another through one window or another. He makes it clear that he would do anything to protect his relationship, but it is repeatedly hinted at that he does not truly care about the one he is with.
The show manages to draw the viewer in constantly, and makes for one of Netflix’s most binge-able shows. The suspense is palpable.
You is an imperfect show. There are episodes which drag and the denouement in the final episode runs slightly too long.
While Beck’s character is in many ways well established, at points she suffers from a lack of agency, becoming surprisingly manipulable.
In a context where an Australian woman dies on average once per week, it could be said that You’s content is problematic, its portrayal of the charming stalker altogether too wholesome. The actor himself took to social media, however, to repeatedly correct several viewers who espoused this notion.
A: He is a murderer https://t.co/g2g4f3JvaF
— Penn Badgley (@PennBadgley) January 9, 2019
More importantly, You serves to demonstrate how easy it can be to have our personal information compromised in today’s social media age.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor