It’s the age-old story: Girl walks into boy’s bookstore, boy falls for girl, boy stalks girl, boy breaks into girl’s apartment, boy kidnaps girl’s boyfriend, and… Well, you know the rest. It’s Love Story of our time.
Based on the novel of the same name, You is a Netflix-streaming Lifetime show, and it does everything you would expect a Lifetime show to do. It’s an over the top stalking story, filled with flawed characters, most of whom are downright unlikable to the point of them being social media influencers. Yow. When the most sympathetic character is the stalker-cum-murderer, you know you are watching dubious quality. And yet, it’s absolutely glorious.
I can only assume Lifetime was angling for Henry Cavill to star, but had to go with the closest lookalike, Penn Badgley, when realities of funding set in. It worked out surprisingly well. Badgley does an impressive job as Joe, striking a balance between creepy and charming. He appears in virtually every scene throughout the ten episodes, without giving the slightest wink to the camera, no matter how outlandish the plot gets, which is pretty damn outlandish. The production value might be higher than what you’d expect from Lifetime, but You is as over the top as anything Meredith Baxter has starred in.
How no-one seriously seems to find it particularly strange that everyone around Joe disappears without even a good-bye—ghosting them—is baffling at best. You would think somebody, somehow would question why a serious number of his girlfriends’ acquaintances are victims of gruesome accidents. You really don’t have to be Columbo to figure this one out.
Yes, You is high-concept, but entertaining it is none-the-less. It is presented in the type of slickness one would expect from the producers of Riverdale, and the cast gives performances one wouldn’t or shouldn’t expect from anything of You’s pedigree. If there ever was a guilty pleasure, You is it, to the point where their dignified statesman of special guest stars is John Stamos. That’s right—Ray Wise and Steven Weber have been replaced by Uncle Jesse. That’s a statement in itself.
Inexplicably, You has been renewed for a second season, and I have no idea where they can go with it. No matter, I’ll be there, binge-watching the crap out of, getting sucked further and further into a vortex of Lifetime lore.