I don’t know if it’s because I had zero expectations going into You, but I really loved this pilot.
This psychological thriller tells the story of Joe, a bookstore manager who develops an unhealthy and stalker-y obsession with a young woman he meets at work one day. It’s a simple premise, but the show really runs with it and it’s an immensely entertaining start. It helps that the voiceover adds a lot to the show; so many series employ this narrative device in a completely useless manner that adds nothing to the proceedings (I’m looking at you Arrow!). But You knows exactly how to use it to dive deep into Joe’s twisted psyche. Bravo!
As our protagonist, Penn Badgley is shockingly good. I remember watching the first season of Gossip Girl years back and being unimpressed by the show and its cast. Thankfully it turns out Badgley just needed stronger material because he’s excellent here. He plays a character whom we should theoretically despise (he is enormously creepy after all), but Penn conveys a lot of warmth through it all. In fact he’s not an all-out bad guy; he’s got a whole of complexity and actually plays a great father figure for a young neglected boy in his apartment building. I can’t wait to see how his arc unfolds.
As the object of Joe’s affection, Elizabeth Lail is also superb as Guinevere Beck. Her character is put through the ringer in the pilot (she doesn’t lead an easy life), but Lail is just so lovable. She’s a character you root for from the beginning. Moreover, I actually want the two to get together, which is quite impressive seeing as how there’s nothing normal about their courtship.
Finally, I recently took a detox from my social media accounts and I’m glad that I did because You does an effectively disturbing job of showing the ramifications of exposing yourself online. Wow!
A confident pilot episode with strong performances and a premise that hooks you in from the start.