New York bookstore manager Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) is as seemingly average as his name suggests. One day, Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) walks into his store and he is hooked.
In this digital day and age a simple thread of flirtatious intrigue can gain momentum and take on a stalkerish life of its own, and so after one meeting with Beck, Joe knows he would do anything for her – after all; that’s Love.
I happily jumped on this show as I knew one of my favourite television developers Greg Berlanti was at the helm. However I will admit that I got three episodes in and felt meh.
At that point I was mostly put off by how generic Beck was. Blonde, a wannabe writer trying to make it in the big city with rich friends and no real problems. There are tonnes of characters like her, but as the object of Joe’s obsession, it meant basic Beck was under a pretty powerful microscope. Her mundane characteristics were magnified and therefore so much easier to pick at.
By episode four, gears were changed and it picked up again. From here it got into a grove, and I found the ten episodes were nicely carved into three phases, which allowed the story room to grow naturally so we didn’t feel so crowded.
One thing the series heavily relies on is an internal monologue. We live inside Joe’s head. We know how he thinks because he shares each and every thought with the audience. This went up and down in taste as the series progressed. At times it’s too much, but then there was a naturalness too it that was often funny and relatable.
We too our Beck’s stalkers, experiencing the rush of being caught peeping through her curtains or scrolling through her messages.
The story being told from within the mind of the villain was a refreshing twist – mostly in that he was so damn normal. CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds and the rest of them have us believing that we pass murderers and stalkers on the street all the time and so in many ways average Joe was the poster boy for what normal looks like. The fact that there were a few moments in the series that you forgot he was insane and found yourself rooting for him reminds us that nobody said normal couldn’t be synonymous for psychotic.
Penn Badgely was scarily good as Joe – there was just something in the blank yet amused indifference he managed to school his features into whilst his mind was buzzing with crazy. The switch in his personality when it came to his relationship with Paco (Luca Padovan) the lonely child next door was comparatively chilling.
Overall I did enjoy the series despite the rocky start. Everyone and their cousin was asking me if I had seen You and I will also raise my hand to being a little put off by all the hype it got.
Based on the book of the same name by Caroline Kepnes, I am not mad that a second series has been announced which will be based on her sequel Hidden Bodies. At this point I’ll wait for the trailer before I decide if I want to continue and see what’s in store for Joe and the skeletons in his closet.