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To Binge or Not to Binge Episode 56: ‘You’

Hannah Allred
(Graphic by Hannah Allred | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


Warning: This review contains mild spoilers for “You.”

Stalking someone is easier than ever, as almost everyone’s personal information, pictures and location are easily accessible via the internet. People don’t realize how easy it is for anyone to retrieve information about them through a simple search. Even the most personal details can be found on the go with the use of a smartphone.

What happens when a person chooses to take advantage of this information because they like you? What about when that person wants more than a one-sided virtual idealization?

The TV series “You” answers these questions. From the start of “You” you’ll be drawn in by the detailed characterizations and the need to see the end result of a blooming obsession. Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) is an aspiring writer who uses social media to post about her fun, happy life and inspire others. This means posting more than her fair share of updated profile shots scattered with new and interesting details here and there. Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), a bookstore manager, instantly falls for Beck and her online persona after she looks through his bookshelves. The image of Joe peering creepily at Beck through a shelf between books certainly sums up their impending relationship.

 So far, the series — which began in 2018 and originally aired on Lifetime — is only one season long. “You” did not fare so well there, and the series has instead garnered more recognition for its suspenseful plot and wild “what if” scenarios after it was added to Netflix. (The second season will be produced as a Netflix original.)

To Binge or Not to Binge?

If you are looking for something that will keep you on the edge of your seat with mind-boggling eeriness, then this is a show for you. “You” combines realism and melodrama. Most drama series build on exaggerated situations until they grow stagnant or clichéd, but in “You” the continuum of built-up drama stays entertaining, like in the “Song of Ice and Fire” book series.

Developers Sera Gamble and Greg Berlanti chose a perfect embodiment of a grownup pathological character. The perspective of the show is mostly shown through internet savvy Joe’s world and his point-of-view. The producers implement the use of texting, social media and other internet sites by shifting the viewers easily between the characters and the technical worlds they inhabit without interrupting the flow of the story, unlike other movies and shows that fall short.

Based on the book by Caroline Kepnes, the TV adaptation of “You” dives into how vulnerable you really are online (and offline) as Joe targets Beck under his assumption that she needs him. As you watch his pursuit in horror, you’ll realize how oblivious you may be in your own world just being at home or doing your daily activities.

Berlanti and Gamble use camera angles to subtly highlight both the body language of Joe stalking Beck and the physical interactions between characters. In small but important moments, like a character reaching for a book, “You” draws attention to how close two people are. Early on, certain movements foreshadow foreboding situations to come.

“You” has a tantalizing ending, which is rare to say these days, when a number of shows entice you and then leave you disappointed.

Best Episodes:  

“Pilot” (Episode 1) and “The Captain” (Episode 4)

Similar Shows:  

“Dexter,” “UnReal,” “Damages,” “Mary Kills People,” “Gossip Girl,” “Bates Motel,” “Fi,” “The Woman in White,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Dollhouse,” “Black Mirror” and “Ozark.”

Trigger Warnings:

This show has some major triggers, including cursing, abuse, stalking, death, partial nudity and sexual conduct. This show may be upsetting to those sensitive to the recent tragedies that have occurred near and on campus at the University of Utah. Viewers are recommended to be at least 16 years of age.

4/5 stars
Available to stream on Netflix
10 episodes, approximately 7.5 hours

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