The Last Nice Guy in New York
Living with the Enemy
You Got Me, Babe
You is a riveting and well-written thriller, taking the conventional romcom beats we’ve come to expect and distorting them into one of the more unique thrillers seen in quite some time. There are definite moments that mirror those seen in fairy tales but instead off the cutesy Disney animation and feel-good singing, You leans in hard to something closer to Grimm’s tales. And boy does it do a good job of it!
The first season runs for 10 episodes, with each chapter clocking in at around 45 minutes a pop. Our protagonist is Joe Goldberg, a deceptively suave and charming bookstore clerk who stumbles upon a chance encounter with Guinevere Beck. She’s a budding writer and with a large ensemble of friends, a promising career and a bubbly social media profile, Joe naturally finds himself drawn to her.
Only, Joe’s curiosity soon turns to obsession as we’re guided through his twisted and morally skewed logic. From breaking into her apartment to tracking her phone, Joe’s actions are deceptive but rationalized through his calm narration, which occupies almost all of the season. There are a few chapters that shift the perspective over to Beck but largely this is the Joe show.
The season itself ultimately follows the trials and tribulations of Joe and Beck’s relationship, following all the usual romcom tropes along the way. You’ve got your misunderstanding trope, winning over Beck’s friends, meeting the parents and even the inevitable break-up and make-up sex. All of this is cleverly parodied with a self-aware tone, as Joe comments numerous times how their actions mirror those seen in books. The “running in the rain” trope is even outright referenced toward the back-end of the season too.
Ultimately, You is a story of dangerous obsession that gets wildly out of hand. However, the supporting characters around Joe all serve a specific purpose to diversify the story and give the tale a lot more depth. Joe’s neighbours, Claudia and Ron, for example, are the abusive neighbours constantly fighting and arguing. This ultimately alienates their son Ron, who spends a lot of time out in the hallway.
There’s an understanding from Joe toward this boy, reflected from his own abusive past. This subplot ultimately shows the extremes of domestic abuse and it’s affect on kids; a stark contrast to Joe’s quiet and manipulative ways that are arguably just as bad as the physical violence Ron inflicts on Claudia.
The story itself certainly takes on some nice twists and turns along the way though, with some unexpected moments cropping up late in the game. While the story of Beck and Joe’s romance is given a definitive closing chapter, the teasing glimpses at the end of the final episode hint that season 2 is about to go in a whole new direction.
You is a perfect guilty-pleasure binge-watch. It’s a well written, clever interpretation of romance that turns common and cliched tropes upside down and distorts theme into something grotesque but undeniably addictive. While the season is perhaps 2 or 3 episodes too long for the story being told, the riveting narration and clever storytelling make it a joy to watch.