You may have already jumped into the 10-episode series since it has been trending on Netflix, but if you haven’t, You is quite the interesting story. I figured it would fall into the “typical” stalker story like Fear, Cape Fear, and Psycho, but You has a very different feel to it. I would recommend adding it to your binge list if you have not seen it yet. Check out the reasons why it stands out below (also MINOR SPOILERS ahead):
You is the story about a bookstore manager named Joe (Penn Badgley ) who inherited the said store. One day, an aspiring, young writer named Beck (Elizabeth Lail) comes into his store in which he immediately falls for her, and of course, begins stalking her. Now, even though Beck came from more humble beginnings, she hangs out with elite individuals Peach (Shay Mitchell), J.D. Salinger’s daughter in the story, Annika (Kathryn Gallagher), and Lynn (Nicole Kang) who play the typical spoiled roles. Also, Joe lives next door to a single mother who is clearly abused by her boyfriend which affects her young son, Paco (Luca Padovan), who Joe tries to help by taking him under his wing. Now that the generic summary is out of the way, below are the reasons that You sets itself apart from other stalker stories:
The Wonder Years
Not much is known about Joe’s past. Viewers continue to gain minor pieces of information only to be left wanting (needing) more to truly understand him. This is paralleled with voice-over narration (much like in the show The Wonder Years) which actually helps the viewers understand Joe’s motivations in the moment. Usually, in stalker movies, we assume the cliche role of the stalker, but here we can understand Joe’s motivations for his stalking, and any other actions that come as a result. The show includes actual love, humor, and a number of other emotions which is usually given more depth in the form of the voice-overs.
Rooting For The Bad Guy
Joe is a stalker. He does bad things. Really bad things, so why in the hell did I find myself somewhat rooting for him at times? Well, he is a likable guy, and his motivation isn’t necessarily a foreign concept, but his execution for achieving his goals is the issue. As we begin to connect the minor amount of information from his past to the voice-over narration of the present, we can see where he comes from and actually feel somewhat bad for Joe, but then he goes and does something else…usually the unthinkable. Also, some of the other characters we meet come across as “worse” people than him (if you remove the whole stalking thing…yeah I know…hard to do that). The man is a jaded individual looking for love, who has been constantly hurt. I am sure many fall into that category, which humanizes him…at least initially. The lengths he goes to for love is where the divide occurs, but it oddly makes you root for him at times, questioning why.
Twists, Oh The Twists
Everyone loves a good twist, as long as it is done correctly. You does just that, and it isn’t only a few twists, but numerous times! They didn’t come across as forced. The twists are well done so that anytime I thought I knew the direction the show was going, I would then second-guess myself after something new was revealed. How else can you make a stalker movie different from the others? Well, how about add in multiple stalkers. Yup, at one point in time it seems like everyone is looking into everyone else clearly showing the lack of trust in each character, yet they all seem oddly validated in doing so at times. How are they all stalking each other? Well, social media for one. That is another area that sets this show apart from other stalker stories. The characters use social media in the type of ways that we have all been warned about. Open public accounts, searching for information through friends and acquaintances of friends (yeah there is some deep digging), location searches. You name it, they use it, which makes it that more realistic.
Now in no way am I encouraging stalking, but the way each character was developed leaves the audience realizing that everyone is hiding something and make us want to know why. That’s what made me root for Joe initially. Everyone had their secrets, but Joe’s actions exceeded those of others…at times.
Sure it has its issues. Some plot holes are addressed, but quickly glossed over, but overall the series is extremely well-written and acted. If you are a fan of movies like the ones I listed above, I would recommend checking it out, or even if you want to add a new show to the list, it is worth checking out (also, John Stamos is in the last couple episodes!). Each episode runs anywhere from 40-50 minutes, but are definitely worth it. And that ending…yeah, you will just have to see it for yourself…
Have you watched You? What did you think? If not, do you want to add it to your list? Leave your thoughts in the usual spot, and thanks for reading!