There’s a strange moral quandary that arises whilst watching ‘You’, the latest series under the ‘Netflix Originals’ banner. Whilst the events are unfolding, I often found myself asking if I was rooting for the right person and the answer usually made me slightly uncomfortable. That’s obviously the intention behind this thriller though, taking its cue from the bestselling novel of the same name by Caroline Kepnes.
According to the IMDB synopsis, in ‘You’ we see bookstore manager Joe (Penn Badgley) rely on his savvy Internet know-how to make Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail), the woman of his dreams, fall in love with him. Sounds cute right? Well, when you throw in that Joe is an obsessive stalker that will stop at nothing to make Beck love him back, then it sounds much more sinister.
The show is told mostly from Joe’s perspective, with the ‘voice in his head’ narrating much of what is happening. It’s a unique angle to take as the viewer is seeing the narrative through the eyes of the antagonist, which is where the blurring lines of morality plays a part. Being both the main protagonist as well as the villain of the show, there are times when you’re rooting for Joe to get away with some despicable acts and hearing his internal monologue justifying every action doesn’t help this dilemma.
Starting off with quite a hook, the first few episodes effectively establish the characters and story, whilst planting a few mysteries and possibilities for future episodes. It makes for binge-worthy viewing in the beginning, throwing in plot twists and cliff-hangers galore. However, as the series progresses, there is a noticeable slump in the middle as the plot appears to be stretched to fulfil the season’s 10 episode run. Obstacles and coincidences occur seemingly just to pad out the run time without serving the overall story and I did find myself slightly losing interest at times.
With that being said, once the final two episodes come around, the action is suddenly kicked up a notch as the show fully leans into its crazy premise. Once the final few scenes come around, I was fully back on board with the concept and eagerly awaiting my next fix.
Once I’d finished the series and began to reflect back, it was quite surprising how unlikeable pretty much every character is in their own way. I’m not entirely sure if this was intended, but it does push Joe to the forefront as the only character to root for, regardless of some of his horrific actions.
It’s possible that the unique viewpoint, mixed with the often soap-opera worthy script, is the reason for the show’s social media domination. It seems that everyone is talking about ‘You’ online and collectively squirming at how deliciously creepy it is. Despite a slump in the middle, the show does feature a great cast and enough bonkers plot twists to keep you engaged throughout.
Jordan Duguid | ★★★½
The entire first season of ‘You’ is available now on Netflix.