Last night, I finished watching You on Netflix. I binged the last five episodes, just to get it over with so I could write this blog post. I have so many thoughts & opinions & things to say.
I have read the book so if you’d like to read my review on that, click here!
I watched the show with my husband but he bailed after 5 episodes because it was too creepy for him. So if you’re easily disturbed, this might not be for you.
Please note, this review will contain spoilers. If you haven’t watched the show, click away now!
CHARACTERS & ACTING & CASTING
I think my main issue with this show was the casting.
It stemmed from watching the trailer and seeing Beck portrayed by a stereotypically pretty girl: blonde hair, colorful eyes, symmetrical face.
In the book, Beck is described as “leather skinned”, “almond eyes” with “brunette hair” so if she isn’t a person of colour, she’s at least not blonde.
Looking past that though, I don’t think that Elizabeth Lail did a wonderful job. She was good; she played a convincing Beck at times but overall, I found her acting a little cheesy.
However, when she had to play the deep dark stuff, she did do pretty well.
Shay Mitchell was probably the most annoying actor to watch in this show. Her Pretty Little Liars days didn’t teach her many valuable acting tips. I feel like she belongs in amateur theatre (oops, sorry).
The saving grace for this show is Penn Badgley. He plays a pretty perfect Joe. He’s charming enough to be likeable, and good enough at acting to portray the creepy stalker vibe. He has the perfect voice for Joe as well. AND HIS EYES! The things he does with his eyes! Whether he’s making them all soft and emotional or making them wide and crazy: he has the perfect eyes.
However, the cast is very diverse which is awesome. Although Beck isn’t supposed to be white and blonde, the casting compensated by hiring a lot of diverse actors. We have black people, Asian people, and even a trans woman. YAS.
I’d say that the majority of the cast are not white male actors. Netflix. You’re getting there.
As for characters, I feel like the show actually does a better job than the book at making the characters likable. (Apart from Peach lol). But I liked Benji a lot better in the show, in fact, I even found him likable at times. I definitely felt bad for him.
As for Beck, she was much more likable in the show. Her character’s journey was super interesting and I liked that we got to see her sometimes without Joe being there / nearby. I’ll talk more about her later.
One thing that was noticeably annoying is how “lucky” Joe gets with all his murders. He doesn’t plan anything out; he just… gets lucky. Even with the pee in the jar, that never came to anything. Now, I don’t know if you can get DNA from a jar, but Joe really does the bare minimum to cover his tracks. And the ending with the book accusing Dr. Nicky – I don’t really know if that would have been entirely convincing.
The pace was another thing that I wasn’t impressed by. I think this would have benefited as a 7 episode series (I know, random number) rather than 10. I felt like a lot of stuff unfolded very very slowly. Often, I would check out the show for 5 minutes and do something else because it was snail’s pace sometimes.
However, every episode did end on a cliffhanger so it was easy to click “next episode”.
I do like the way this was filmed. I’m not educated on film terms but it was easy to watch and the constant use of natural sunlight was lovely.
I really loved the settings and homes of each character. They felt real and liveable, too.
I don’t know if you noticed, but almost every shot was kind of blurred around the edges. I know this is for an added creepy effect but what was the point? It just blurred the image. I wasn’t a fan of that.
Also, the bookstore was perfect. Just perfect. The cage was so atmospheric but still also stunning. I also found that the bookstore was a metaphor for the entire plot. On the surface, the ground level of the bookstore, everything is this normal cute love story but underneath, in the cage, everything is messed up. Joe, on the surface, is a normal guy, but underneath, he’s got a cage full of secrets.
Overall, the writing in this show is good. Especially Joe’s monologues – holy moly they are epic.
I especially loved one of his last ones where Beck was in the cage and he was talking about the idea of love, and how it means you’ll do anything for that person. I don’t think that was in the book but it really made me understand where Joe was coming from. Although, of course, I do not agree with it. Anyway, this monologue went into another one about how what if Beck isn’t the one? That was the turning point for the whole thing and showed how Beck was doomed from the start because no matter what she did, she would have died because Joe has his own feelings, his own agenda, and he can fall out of love because his idea of love is completely self-created. Once his own kingdom crumbles, he can walk away. He never really loved Beck: he loved the character Beck that he created.
However, the writing that bothered me was between Beck & her friends. WHY DO THEY ALL TALK LIKE 12-YEAR-OLD GIRLS? Seriously, talking in hashtags and abbreviations (ie, LOL). All they discuss is selfies and Instagram and boys and none of them support Beck’s writing. In fact, they treat writing as if it’s beyond their intelligence levels even though they are all adults.
I was not convinced by this kind of dialogue and every time it appeared, I physically rolled my eyes.
Overall, this show is very creepy. I mean, my husband had bad dreams and had to stop watching.
I’m kind of immune to creepiness with all the books and podcasts and shows I consume, so it didn’t really bother me.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t get shivers and appreciate the creepiness.
Of course, Joe is a very unusual character, one that we don’t get a lot in the media. At least, we never really get inside a stalker’s head. It is so fascinating to be living from that point of view.
The vibe of romance and murder was very well blurred. There were times when you wanted things to work out with Joe & Beck. You wanted them to be okay. But then you realise you want them to be okay so that Beck doesn’t die. It’s all very weird to watch, understanding your own feelings and realisations at the same time.
It’s cool to think about how this could a romantic show. The entire plot would have still worked if Joe wasn’t a serial killer. If Benji really disappeared and got wasted, if Peach really killed herself. But adding the fact that Joe is the suspect really adds an entirely new dimension to a classic TV drama.
I think my favourite scene is where Beck finds the box in the bathroom. She tries so so so hard to play it cool and she so nearly gets away. In that moment, Beck getting away was all that mattered in my life. The show totally consumed me in that moment. (And I’d already read the book so I knew she wasn’t going to get away). But the way they directed & wrote that scene was so powerful. I was on the edge of my seat.
BOOK TO SCREEN CHANGES
There weren’t that many overall changes and the show was very faithful to the plot, vibe and characterisation of the book.
I was very happy that Joe still had his monologues and some of them were even word for word. As a bookworm, this is a dream.
Obviously, the biggest change is the addition of Paco, his mum & her boyfriend.
I understand why they did this: to show Joe’s humanity and also the effect people can have on you. Mr Mooney led Joe to do some psychotic things, and Joe led Paco to do some psychotic things and the cycle will just continue on and on and on.
However, Paco’s character infuriated me in the end. He had the chance to save Beck and I really don’t think it was fair to put him in that position because Paco would have totally saved her in any other episode. But because Joe was kind of Paco’s alibi for Rob’s (is that his name) death, Paco let Beck die, making Paco even more of a worse guy. If Joe got arrested, then he could have outed Paco, I guess. But it was BECK. She never did a thing to hurt Paco so I don’t really know if it was fair to have Paco be the character that could make or break the whole thing.
A difference from book to screen is that they don’t show Beck’s death.
I’m kind of glad they don’t because I feel it would change the way we view Beck. Plus, the show was already very graphic so it was nice to have it left to the imagination.
But also – I know how Beck dies so I still had the image in my mind.
Overall thoughts here: Joe needs to go to jail.
Okay, the ending. I think the ending was definitely my favourite. It was much more intense than the book and I really was on the edge of my seat the entire time. First of all, Beck has suspicions in the back of her mind during the entire show so it’s much more convincing when she gets all the information and confronts Joe.
Of course, Joe has a reason for all of her doubts and she apologises for thinking so low of him.
Anyway, I thought it was so cool that she was smarter in the show, and did manage to figure it all out. It made her a lot more likable and relatable for this segment of the show.
AND THEN PACO TOLD HER ABOUT THE CEILING! LIKE WHY PACO WHY DO YOU RUIN THINGS AGAIN??!!
Her finding that box was the most intense moment of the show, as I’ve said.
When Joe put her in the cage, the emotions were so all over the place from her thinking he was showing her love, to the flashbacks with Mr. Mooney, to Beck figuring out how to fight for her love. It all felt so real.
But my absolute favourite part of the whole entire show was Beck’s poem about the fairy tales.
It was a great commentary on violence against women and the lies we are fed in our childhood. She talks about wanting someone to save her, rescue her, do anything for her. Someone like Joe. And then it happens and it’s all wrong. But didn’t she ask for this? Didn’t she want this? DIDN’T SHE ASK FOR IT?
This is a very accurate depiction of what it’s like to be a female victim of male violence. We are constantly accused that we asked for it and then there’s suddenly… no way out.
The poem was written so well, and delivered in such an intensely beautiful way. I could have cried if it wasn’t all too intense. It made me not want Beck to die and in the book, I didn’t really care if she died.
In the show, I was angry.
Then she planned her escape and I genuinely wished they would change the ending. She used the typewriter keys to stab Joe and then she locked him in the cage and forgot the keys and Paco didn’t help and Joe had a spare key and she ruined her own life and AGHHHHHHHHHH!
Sorry, I’m getting flashbacks writing this. All. Too. Intense.
Anyway, after Beck dies… we find out that Candance is alive.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. This doesn’t happen in the book. It feels a little bit too far fetched. Like how did Joe “kill her” in a way that he was unsure if she was really dead?
I’m not going to discuss Candace too much because there’s nothing I can really say but I definitely need to watch season 2 to find out!
Overall, liked the show a lot but it could have been better. As most things 🙂