Look who's stalking: What we're watching on Netflix this week
As psychotic stalkers go, you’d be hard-pushed to find many more bright, eloquent and initially quite likeable than Joe Goldberg, the main protagonist in You, the Netflix adaptation of the Caroline Kepnes novel.
Penn Badgely is brilliantly cast in the lead role, shaking off the perceived shackles of his five-year stint in Gossip Girl with menacing aplomb. Right from the off, it’s hard not to be charmed by Joe, the smart and knowledgeable manager of a New York bookshop. However, it’s because of this apparent charm that aspiring writer Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) falls blissfully ignorantly into Joe’s web of social media-driven infatuation.
There are mitigating circumstances for aspiring writer Guinevere doing so, however. Not only is her relationship with vapid, self-obsessed rich boy Benji (Lou Taylor Pucci) going absolutely nowhere, her closest ‘gal pals’ are so sickeningly vain, vacuous and pampered, they fill Guinevere with a totally unwarranted self-loathing.
Joe, on the other hand, offers her an escape, appearing to genuinely give two hoots about her life, her dreams, her entire raison d’être. How was she supposed to know he was going to go to incredible lengths to win (or, more accurately, steal) her heart.
The addition of Paco (Luca Padovan), Joe’s young neighbour whom we often find reading quietly on the steps outside his mother’s apartment as she and her violent boyfriend have another huge spat, is where the TV version of Kepnes’ work is most strikingly different to the novel.
Joe’s quasi-paternal love for Paco gives him a far more endearing side, one that leaves the audience torn as to whether they should love or despise him.
The answer to that quandary is soon plain for even the most sadistic of viewers to see, though, as Joe embarks on his stalking campaign that begins on social media, moves into real life and then plumbs the depths of morality (let’s not spoil the surprise for you too much).
As Badgely himself told The New York Times: “In my experience, it tends to be men who are more horrified by Joe. I’ll go out on a limb and wonder if that is because it’s less of a novel idea to women.”
This first season went down a treat with audiences and a second chapter based on Kepnes’ follow-up tome, Hidden Bodies, set for release later this year.
The title offers a big hint at what’s in store.
Available on Netflix
What twitter has to say
I equally hated every single character in #You but I couldn’t stop watching it.
Good morning to Karen Minty, and Karen Minty only. #younetflix
People to never trust: 1) people who are mean to servers 2) a person that says “can I speak to your manager?” After not getting their way and 3) women that find Joe from #YouNetflix charming and endearing instead of creepy and terrifying.
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