Lifetime series You premieres in September, deviating slightly from original book

By Danielle Rice || Contributing Writer

Photo courtesy of imdb.com.

On Sunday, September 9, the new series You premiered on Lifetime. The show is directly based on the best-selling 2014 novel of the same name by Caroline Kepnes. There will be 10 episodes in the first season, and it’s already confirmed for a second season. The episodes will be available on Netflix sometime in the near future. Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley stars as the main character, Joe Goldberg. Elizabeth Lail plays his love interest, Beck, and Shay Mitchell from Pretty Little Liars plays her best friend, Peach. John Stamos, best known for his roles in General Hospital and Full House, appears later on in the series as Dr. Nicky. 

This psychological thriller is told from the point of view of a New York City bookstore worker, Joe Goldberg. One day, his world is rocked when Beck, an aspiring writer in graduate school, walks into his bookstore. This is only the beginning of an intense, long-term obsession with her. Joe stalks her on social media and as well as in person, eventually cajoling her into a seemingly innocuous relationship. Joe grows more and more dangerous as he becomes determined to obliterate any obstacle keeping him from Beck, even if those obstacles are those closest to her.

Having read the novel, I was apprehensive about how certain things would be portrayed in the show, and I wasn’t sure what level of quality to expect since Lifetime has not done a show quite like this one. The episode opens in Mooney’s bookstore which is depicted just like I imagined, at the pivotal moment when Joe first spots Beck. Even from this very first scene, I knew this show would exceed my expectations. I was most astonished by the artistic cinematography – everything from shots of the New York City skyline, to unique lighting, to inventive camera angles.

The acting was also nothing less than what you would expect from this crew of actors. Penn Badgley fit the character of Joe perfectly and was especially convincing as he played the role with the perfect duality of creepiness and charm. Elizabeth Lail did an exceptional portrayal of Beck, a complex character who is alluring and innocent but also privileged and conscious of her bad decisions at times. Almost every set was exactly what I had pictured reading the book. The eerie tone of the book translated well onto screen, and I found it to be an even more nail-biting experience than reading the book. There were several intense scenes that made it impossible to look away – one of which is when a character falls onto the subway tracks, and the episode ended with a huge cliffhanger.

Anyone who has read the book will be pleased to hear that the series follows the book very closely, but not without a few changes, of course. Aside from slight dialogue changes, the main difference is the addition of several completely new characters including Beck’s graduate school professor and a family that lives next door to Joe with a villainous father figure and a boy who Joe takes under his wing.

Throughout the novel, the reader grapples with their feelings toward Joe. There are so many instances where he thinks something relatable or comical about society, and readers can’t help but find themselves laughing with him, yet he does so many awful things. I felt that this ambivalence was only amplified in the show, especially with the addition of Joe’s relationship with the boy living next door. Speaking of Joe’s commentary on society, something that was carried over very well from the book was Joe’s sarcastic voice throughout the episode conveyed through a voice over. His thoughts are entertaining throughout the narrative but are also vital in moving the plot along.

To all the crime, horror, psychological thriller and even romance buffs out there, if you haven’t read the book and have the time, I would recommend reading it before seeing the show. Although the series follows the novel closely, it can’t include all the chilling details and witty commentary in only ten episodes. And the book is a great, intense read. Without reading the book, however, you will still get sucked in by the plot, acting and cinematography. I predict this will continue to be an exhilarating series and will blow up once it hits Netflix. Tune in at 10pm on Sunday nights to watch this unparalleled new series. 

First-year Danielle Rice is a contributing writer. Her email is drice1@fandm.edu

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