Why Everyone Can't Stop Talking About "You"—5 Things We Loved About This Addictive Thriller
Three Netflix shows made a lot of buzz over the holiday break and well into the new year: Bird Box, Bandersnatch, and YOU.
Many people, at least on my feed, had divided opinions about the first two. But not with YOU.
Oh, the things you do for love.
The American psychological thriller series premiered on Lifetime last September. And last December, it became available for streaming worldwide on Netflix as a "Netflix Original Series." What a belated Christmas gift! That same month—even before it was released worldwide—it was announced that YOU is confirmed for a second season. Now, how's that for a New Year treat?
On the popular American review-aggregation website for film and television Rotten Tomatoes, YOU had an 89% certified fresh rating, with the critics' consensus opinion stating: "You pairs thrilling drama with trashy fun to create an addictive social media horror story that works its way under the skin—and stays there."
"Addictive"—people who have seen it can agree that this is indeed true. Because you want to know what happens next so badly, you won't mind delaying your bath time, eating your lunch while watching it, and perhaps procrastinating a little (or maybe a lot).
With the 10-episode series running on about 40 minutes per episode, some people have even finished watching it in just a day—in one sitting, apparently! Others say Netflix redeemed itself, too, with YOU since Bird Box and Bandersnatch didn't quite meet their expectations.
Well, hello there, who are you?
Everyone just calls me Beck.
And there you are. Every account set to public.
You want to be seen, heard, known.
Of course, I obliged.
Developed by Greg Berlanti and Sera Gamble and produced by Warner Horizon Television, the series was based on Caroline Kepnes' 2014 novel of the same name. It follows the story of Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), a clever bookstore manager who became obsessed with one of his customers, aspiring writer Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail). By that description alone, it's easy to dismiss this as yet another stalker offering—except that it's not.
I believe in "love at first sight."
But love is tricky.
Like, can we get real for just a second,
You have questionable taste in friends.
I'm going to help you get the life you deserve.
I'm not a "maybe."
I'm "The One"
Here, we list down all the things we loved and appreciated about YOU:
1. Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg and his twisted Dan Humphrey vibes
Spotted: Lonely Boy isn't so lonely anymore, because there's a new blonde girl who's giving so much excitement in his life.
With Penn cast as the male lead and YOU filmed in New York, we definitely got the Gossip Girl vibe from Manhattan's Upper East Side here, complete with rich girls who have a tendency to be nasty.
His character, Joe Goldberg, is an anti-hero. It's not hard to love him or fall in love with him. He is handsome and brilliant (he's a bookstore manager who knows what he's talking about). He's got a humorous side. He genuinely cares about other people. He's a good friend. He makes for a "perfect boyfriend," too—loving, caring, and supportive. He wants to be good as a person and as a partner. But—and that's a big "but—his warped mindset is dragging him to be bad and making him justify the terrible things he's done. He'll do anything for love; yes, to the extent of doing unacceptable things, though. His stalking skills are impressively creepy, and could make you paranoid regarding what you share about yourself on social media.
Penn Badgley deserves credit for his performance. The actor's charming aura and brooding looks fit the character perfectly. Now, let's just emphasize the fact that we love how Penn breathed life to Joe, not Joe the character. Know the difference.
2. Joe Goldberg's internal monologues
The series was heavily driven by Joe's internal monologues that make the narrative all the more thrilling. With an execution like this, it was easy for viewers to understand the male lead's psyche on a much deeper level without losing that all-important sense of mystery in the process.
His lines excite, solidifying the plot further. In some ways, the lines easily give away what could happen next but you will still be glued and hooked anyway, on the lookout for sharp twists and turns in this journey which you will surely get.
3. Elizabeth Lail and the fact that her character is not exactly the ideal girlfriend
Penn's character, Joe, is supposed to get all the hate in this show, but there are parts where viewers also loved to hate Beck. Spoiler: she's a cheater and a liar, and she has serious daddy issues. She's looking for herself, her purpose in life, and what she really wants to do. She's pretty messed up—and that's why Joe feels the need to be her prince charming and knight in shining armor, the one who will rescue and save her from this misery (not that that's an excuse for Joe to commit crimes and abuses, of course). These elements complicate the lead characters' "love story" even more, adding further depth and texture to the storyline.
This show has put Elizabeth Lail (who has only had two other notable projects to date: Once Upon a Time and Dead Summer) on people's radar, for good reason.
4. The "everythingship" between Joe and Beck
What makes YOU different from other stalker TV series or films is that Joe's love for the woman he's stalking was eventually reciprocated—from stalker to boyfriend. It's bordering on being a romance thriller drama.
At one point, you'd want to root for Joe and Beck, cheer them on, and "ship" them. Besides, they look so good together. They've opened up to each other about their deepest darkest secrets, and have come to accept one another. To a certain extent, they had emotional and sexual chemistry. And as the characters said it themselves in episode 7: "The #joeandbeck dream team."
5. Shay Mitchell and her condescending Peach Salinger persona, plus other characters who are crucial to the series
Although the focus is on Joe and Beck, the other characters had their respective shining moments and share of the spotlight, too.
First, you have Peach Salinger. If you loved Shay Mitchell's portrayal in Pretty Little Liars, you're going to love her in YOU as well. Shay is cast as Beck's wealthy socialite (read: bitchy) best friend. She doesn't approve of Beck's relationship with Joe, and so, she eventually got on his bad side. That's when the plot thickens.
Second, there's Benji Ashby Jr. III (Lou Taylor Pucci). He's the rich and toxic boyfriend of Beck, who started the vicious turn of events in Joe's life.
Third, we are introduced to Joe's young neighbor Paco (Luca Padovan), who became his friend and later an accomplice of sorts.
Fourth, Karen Minty (Natalie Paul), Paco's babysitter, entered the scene when Joe broke up with Beck.
Lastly, Dr. Nicky (John Stamos) made his appearance in the series towards the latter part but the significance of his role will surprise you.
Overall, you won't regret spending a total of about seven hours (see, it's not dragging) out of your day or week in watching YOU.
Oh, and in case you missed it, Penn Badgley and Shay Mitchell are going to Manila for a special fan event on January 15, 5:30PM, at The Gallery in Greenbelt 5.
See YOU there!
Photo from @netflixph