Everyone thought it would be Bird Box’s crown, but actually Netflix’s first triumph of 2019 is the bingeable, creepy, Gossip-Girl-gone-wrong series, You.
Originally released on the Lifetime entertainment channel last September, You’s 10-episode series follows handsome Joe Goldberg as he meets Guinevere Beck by chance in the bookstore he manages, before pursuing her and eventually falling in love. It sounds like your average indie-movie meet cute, but this one comes with a twist. Told from Joe’s perspective, You is actually the story of a psychopathic, emotionally abusive, murderous (sorry, spoilers) stalker, who will stop at nothing to make Guinevere totally dependent on him.
The decision to narrate You mostly from the abuser’s perspective is clever — it invites the viewer into Joe’s mind from the beginning, showing us how he can rationalise his awful behaviour with inner monologues that sound increasingly like something you’d read on an incel subreddit or in 4chan’s darkest neckbeard corners. The result is part Gone Girl, part American Psycho, all horrifyingly disconcerting because of how easily it is to slip into Joe’s way of thinking and even to sympathise with him. Horror really takes on another layer when it makes you complicit with a killer, and that uncomfortable complicity is deliberate, according to author Caroline Kepnes, who wrote the novel on which You is based.
“We relate to [Joe’s thoughts] because we all get that way. We all feel like the world is against us. Unlike Joe, we don’t act on it,” the author told Refinery29 last year.