You better watch out for who’s watching “You”

Allie Nichols, Copy Editor

This story was originally published in the fourth issue of The Bear Truth (March 10, 2020).

The popular show You, developed by Greg Berlanti, was first aired on September 9, 2018. The first season was originally on TV then moved to Netflix, but season two, released in December of 2019, is exclusively on Netflix along with season one. WARNING: spoilers for both seasons will follow in this review.

In my opinion, You did not come close to matching the hype that surrounded it, but before we get into that, let’s talk about season one. The show opens with Joe Goldberg, played by Penn Badgley, staring at a customer at his book store: Guinevere Beck, portrayed by Elizabeth Lail. Through his voice over, Joe comments on Beck’s every feature, which appears innocent and quirky, but there is an underlying darkness with each observation. For the rest of the episode, Joe follows Beck without her knowledge, stalks her on social media, and even watches her through the window while she is with her boyfriend Benji, played by Lou Taylor Pucci. The episode ends with Joe locking Benji in a glass cage, in a soundproof basement. This really sets the mood for how things will play out.

Benji and a girl named Peach, Beck’s best friend who is also in love with her, are killed by Joe because, according to him, “They were a threat to our relationship, to you.” Near the end, Joe has killed four people. The season closes with Joe burying Beck’s body in the woods. To cover his murderous tracks, he frames her therapist who is then arrested. In the last moments of the episode, we see the woman who started it all: Joe’s ex Candace. 

There are so many problems with this scenario. I genuinely thought Beck and Joe would be a great couple, yet towards the end, I realized that Joe is actually a sociopath not an over dramaticized, average man in love. He stole some of Beck’s private possessions such as her diary and phone. He kept her in the same cage where he murdered Benji, where a bucket is used as a bathroom, and where Joe himself was kept as a teen when his boss had had enough of him. I did not see Beck’s murder coming, but I was not surprised in the least that it was Joe who killed her. I think what frustrates me the most is that there is zero justification for Joe’s murders. They were all done in cold blood and jealousy. It wasn’t about ridding the world of actually bad people. Joe even admits at some point that he is the bad guy.

Season two. How do I even begin to explain the monstrosity that is season two of You? It is almost an exact remake of season one, but there is a new woman of interest, Love Quinn, Victoria Pedretti. It is revealed in the season finale that Love has also killed people, and she is pregnant with Joe’s baby. By this time, Joe has also confessed his sins, and he is surprised when Love still wants him. The season ends with Joe moving into a house with Love, but then he hears a noise over the fence in his backyard. He peeks through the slats and peers at his neighbor. He goes through his stalker routine and describes her every habit. His final words of the season are “I will figure out a way, a way to get to you. See you soon…Neighbor.”

Season two is a sad attempt at continuing Joe’s story. The cliffhanger from season one finale about Candace and Joe’s history is barely resolved and not even interesting. I truly thought Candace was going to enter the plot and end Joe’s stalker game, but instead, she was whiny and unconvincing. Everything she told the police was 100% true however, her delivery of the information sounded fictitious and implausible. Candace was a complete brat, and she died, but her remaining plot felt inconclusive. As a whole, the series normalizes stalking. The words: “Oh, I want someone to stalk me! I want someone to love me enough to kill!” should never be said.