Obsessed with an aspiring writer, a charming bookstore manager goes to extreme measures to insert himself into her life.
Based on Caroline Kepnes’ best-selling novel of the same name, You is a psychological thriller masquerading as a love story. A nice guy bookstore manager has an adorable meet-cute with grad student and aspiring poet, Beck (who is way too hipster to go by Guinevere), and that’s all it takes for him to begin Internet stalking her, and then actually stalking her. It doesn’t take long for him to decide that he knows his dream girl better than she knows herself, and he insinuates himself into her life in hopes of being her perfect boyfriend. And if he has to remove a few toxic people from her life along the way, well, isn’t that what love is?
Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg
It’s impossible to watch You without seeing Joe as an extension of Penn’s most notorious character, Dan Humphrey on Gossip Girl. The bland blonde obsession, the internet spying… Hell, are we sure Lonely Boy didn’t have a book dungeon? Badgley is especially effective here at balancing the innocuous person he wants you to see with the patronizing incel-like Joe of the voiceovers. Notably, the actor is also crazy entertaining at calling out fans on social media who are attracted to Joe.
Elizabeth Lail as Guinevere Beck
You may know Elizabeth Lail from Once Upon a Time, where she played Princess Anna from Frozen, or Dead of Summer. (Sidebar: Raise your hand if you forgot Dead of Summer ever happened?) As Beck, she should be sympathetic, if she wasn’t such a trainwreck of an adult that you’re compelled to constantly yell at the screen over her general pretentiousness and life bad choices. Oh my god, CURTAINS, Beck. However, her hair is sublime.
Shay Mitchell as Peach Salinger (Yes, that Salinger. Gross.)
Of course, we know Shay Mitchell from Pretty Little Liars. (If you don’t, remedy that immediately, because that is the pinnacle of ridiculous good fun.) Peach is the absurdly bossy and Mean Girl toxic leader of Beck’s hilariously shallow friends group. She’s also the smartest person on the show since she sees through Joe immediately and becomes such a delightful thorn in his side.
Couch-Sharing Capability: Who Can You Trust?
This show would make an excellent vetting exercise for significant others. If at any point, they think ANYTHING Joe does is acceptable, you need to come up with an immediate exit strategy. Better yet, just watch it with your friends, ensconced in a blanket fort, where you periodically take breaks to praise the existence of window treatments and John Stamos.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Stone Cold Sober
I know that is completely unexpected advice to receive from me. But if you’re the least bit tipsy while watching this, you may start believing Penn Badgley’s ridiculously compelling voiceovers. Maybe he really does know what’s best for Beck? She is kind of a mess. I mean, he was right about her awful boyfriend and Peach. And he’s so nice to his young next door neighbor. No, no, NO. Do not become one of those people Badgley has to call out on Twitter. Save those drinks because you may need to pour one out for your homies.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered.
You definitely features some problematic themes, but it presents those horrors in such a transparent way and telegraphs them from the first moment so that it almost leaves the viewer feeling like if you’re surprised or appalled by anything that happens, you have only yourself to blame. It can sometimes be refreshing to not know if you can root for anyone.
What happens when an unreliable narrator falls in love? You is like a love letter from those Nice Guys on the Internet who feel entitled to the women they love. It’s also a social media cautionary tale about obsession and what happens when you ignore those red flags (or are too dumb to notice them in the first place). And it is superbly trashy, in the best way, and an addictive good time.