I’m pleased to report that You‘s entire season is just as impressive as its pilot. A lot of times, shows fall apart after a gripping debut episode, but this psychological thriller manages to main its quality across the span of ten episodes.
Warning: if you haven’t finished the season, then skip right to the conclusion or read my non-spoiler review of the show’s first episode. I will be spoiling all the big twists.
One very exciting element about You is the fact that the show can be severely unexpected at times. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how often the show was willing to kill off members of its core cast. For example, I was sure that Benji and Peach would make it till the end of the season; the show could have easily milked their arcs for a whole lot more drama across multiple episodes. However, by eliminating both characters at startling points in the narrative, the show managed to maintain a sense of danger and uneasiness. As evidenced by the finale in which Joe finally kills Beck, no one on this show was ever really safe (apart from Joe of course).
Speaking of Joe, it continues to amaze me how You managed to make me root for such a twisted and demented “hero”. Although Penn Badgley’s performance gets a tad grating with the incessant voiceovers towards the end of the year, his Joe is a complicated protagonist who is equal parts sick and heroic. After all, his fatherly dynamic with poor Paco showcases a side worth rooting for, and it culminates beautifully with the abused boy refusing to save Beck in service of his savior. It’s all so wonderfully disturbing, and the show pulls this layered arc off with flying colors.
Now You isn’t exactly thought-provoking television. The teenage angst is alive and strong in this one (it probably doesn’t help that Badgley used to star in Gossip Girl – a show I particularly loathe). However, the series utilizes social media in a terrifyingly effective manner, and it approaches its subject matter by making the villain our primary perspective. Props for trying something new!
A compelling debut season with an unconventional protagonist and some shocking plot twists.