Stalking to Love: A Review of Netflix’s You (2018)
There’s a fine line sometimes between looking into someone and stalking them. Netflix’s show You takes that line and throws it right out the window.
Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley. Gossip Girl) manages Mooney’s Bookstore in New York City. Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail, Once Upon a Time) strolls in, looking for books by Paula Fox. Joe is happy to be the best customer service employee he can be and takes her right to where she needs to go.
From her credit card, he gets her name. From her name, he finds her social media, all of which is set to public. From her social media, he finds her address.
He watches her at her home, then follows her for a few days until he’s presented with the perfect opportunity to meet her again. She’s falling down drunk on a train platform, alone. She falls onto the tracks and Joe gets to be the knight in shining armor.
He also gets to steal her phone, the perfect tool with which to manipulate her life.
And thus their love story begins.
You is a beautiful and macabre look into the mind of a stalker. What’s so beautiful about this show is that it centers on the offender, not on the victim. Joe narrates the whole story as if he’s speaking to Beck, telling her everything. He frames his own narrative so that he’s the hero.
And we believe him.
I found myself worrying that he was going to get caught doing this deed or that. I found myself feeling the tension that he felt when things got stressful. I found myself hoping beyond hope that Beck would just love him the way he loved her.
Penn Badgley did an amazing job. He was able to seamlessly transition between the two Joe Goldbergs, the stalker and the good guy. Between Prince Charming and Bluebeard. The emotional rawness in his performance left me really feeling for a psychopath like Joe.
His co-star, Elizabeth Lail, did an equally fantastic job as the mess that is Guinevere Back. A writer living in the big city, trying to make her dream come true, Beck is just looking for a real connection with another human being. Lail captures that desire in her brilliant performance.
Taking place in an atmosphere that is largely centered on books, You has hundreds of literary references. From Dumas to Shakespeare to Dan Brown, this show has everything a romantic and crime-drama loving bookworm like me could hope for. This strong foundation of literature helps to center the characters in the perfect setting.
It creates an atmosphere of romanticism.
Joe romanticizes Beck. He places her on a pedestal. She is perfect. Even when she does wrong, she can do no wrong. He is willing to look past the worst if it means that she will love him.
Beck romanticizes Joe. He’s the good guy. The end of her string of bad choices. Joe is Prince Charming and has come to rescue her from her mess of a life.
This show is a thriller, a rom-com and a drama all rolled into one. The concept behind it is terrifying. It’s a scenario that a lot of girls and women think about. As a woman, the thought of having a stalker like Joe quite literally makes me look over my shoulder in fear.
You isn’t really scary, though. There are lighthearted moments throughout the show that space out the suspense in a manageable way. It wasn’t drama or thriller 100% of the time, which is really refreshing for this sort of subject matter.
I highly recommend you check out You on Netflix.
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