Sometimes the best way to work through your feelings is to write them all down. That’s exactly what I’m doing here with Lifetime’s latest thriller television show You, starring Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail, and Shay Mitchell. It seems as if this show has been generally well received, and yet there’s still so much about this show that lands in squarely in the “guilty pleasure” zone for me. So what is the deal with You? Is it good or is it so bad it’s good? And why can’t I decide?
Time to get to the bottom of my feelings about You…
Let’s start by chatting about what drew me to this show. I am and always will be a fan of Gossip Girl even though that show has major flaws. I also love a good trashy thriller, and I don’t think we have enough GOOD trashy thriller TV shows out there, so this is definitely scratching that itch for me. Penn Badgley was never my favorite person on Gossip Girl, but I never disliked him either, and he’s basically playing the more grown up and even creepier version of Dan Humphrey here. Though come on, let’s all agree Dan Humphrey is also creepy and a stalker.
Anyhow, what I’m trying to say is that I am basically the perfect audience for this type of show. I’m super into it and have been pretty excited to watch it every week. What’s the premise, you ask? Oh yeah. I guess I should tell you that. So Dan Humphrey has basically grown up and is now working as a bookstore clerk in New York City. He lives in a dumpy apartment across from a trashy family. He has no food in his fridge. He befriends the neighbors’ precocious young son, a boy who prefers reading old classics like The Three Musketeers over playing video games.
And then in walks Guinevere Beck (she goes by Beck though).
Basically Beck here is the adult version of Serena van der Woodsen to match Badgley’s adult version of Dan Humphrey. They bond over feeling like they know more about literature than everyone else in the bookstore. Together, they cheekily make fun of other people in the store, which must be exhausting for someone who works in a bookstore and has to try to be nice to customers. Anyway, Dan Humphrey 2.0 aka Joe is smitten. So smitten that he stalks this girl, steals her phone, gets all of her social media info, and oh yeah, kidnaps Beck’s boyfriend and locks him up in his private book dungeon.
All of this is in the first episode, by the way. I am sold.
However, the more I watch this show, the more I get an icky feeling, and it’s has nothing at all to do with Joe (aka Dan 2.0) and how he drives around with a dead body in the trunk of his car and implicates a young boy in his dastardly deeds by having him run errands for him. No, Joe can keep on keeping on because he is bringing me good TV.
But the object of his obsession, Beck, is giving me serious stress headaches, and I will tell you why. Let me tell you about Beck.
She’s a writer in an MFA program. Okay, end of article. Enough said.
Okay, I kid. Kind of. But really. Stories about people in writing programs always end up being a bit eyeroll inducing to me. The major one that comes to mind is Girls. In general, I cannot with that show, but I really got mad with Lena Dunham’s character got into the most competitive MFA program in the world without even trying. And then she proceeded to do a really bad job and not do any of her work. And just also be really annoying, as always. But anyway.
Beck is doing the exact same BS, but unlike Lena Dunham, I think we’re actually supposed to feel sorry for her. Look, we’ve all been there, Beck. A deadline is coming up and you have no good ideas and suddenly you’re banging out a stinker two days (or two hours) before your workshop story is due. But you still submit something. You have a deadline, and this is grad school, and nobody has time for your bullshit.
So when Beck shows up to her workshop with like one page of handwritten BS and is like, “Hey, I’m sorry I didn’t submit anything, but I wrote one page of something now, so why don’t you listen to me read it and tell me what you think?” we as an audience are supposed to think that sounds reasonable. When her shitty holier-than-thou classmate Blythe is like, “I have this facial autism thing where I can’t hide what I’m thinking.” We’re supposed to think she’s the jerk for not talking Beck’s work SERIOUSLY.
Well, you know what, Beck? You don’t take your work seriously. Maybe stop partying with your friends and hunker down, bitch.
Look, I get it. Writing is hard, but get over yourself.
What else? Oh yeah. In the latest episode we discovered that Beck has been lying about her father being dead. He’s actually alive and well, is really into Charles Dickens, and is writing her checks like there’s no tomorrow. And yet she’s complaining about having no money. I forgot to mention she lives in a giant apartment in Manhattan on an assistantship paycheck.
Beck, you have a murderous stalker following your every move, and I still don’t feel sorry for you. He deserves better than you, and he’s Dan Humphrey 2.0 (aka the worst).
Let’s talk about Shay Mitchell now, okay?
Shay Mitchell, formerly of Pretty Little Liars fame, plays Beck’s BFF Peach Salinger (yes, that is her real name). She is a delight, and I’m enjoying watching Shay Mitchell play a character who is so different from her Pretty Little Liars character. Unlike Penn Badgley, it appears as if Mitchell has more than one character she can play, so, like, maybe she can actually act. I don’t know.
Anyway, I feel like Peach is supposed to be the audience in this show. She calls Beck out on her BS, sees right through Joe’s nice guy act, and is playing a damn sleuth on the show at the moment. Full disclosure: I’ve never read the book, so I don’t know what fate ends up befalling Peach, but I hope she makes it out okay. It is a thriller novel, though, and Peach is an outspoken woman, so she’ll likely die.
So… do I like this show or am I hate-watching it? At this point in the game, while we’re still only a few episodes in, I still feel like it’s a mixture of both. As we get further into the show, I might end up swaying more one way or another. For now though, while not perfect, You is a fun ride that I am enjoying quite a bit. Watch it with me so we can be excited about it and make fun of it together?
You airs on Lifetime on Sundays at… IDK sometime on Sunday. Let’s be real. You guys are all going to watch it on your computer anyway. Also, it just got renewed for a second season, so it’s time to commit to this for real. You know you want to.