YOU Pilot Review – Love Is Patient, Love Is Kind, Love is Deadly

There’s a spark you haven’t felt before, looking into each other’s eyes you feel more: the head, the heart, the spirit. It beckons you. Nothing else matters in this moment aside from the person staring back at you. This is what love feels like, the moment you meet the person who is meant, no, made for you. But love is blind, you miss the signs and only see what you want to see. Behind that perfect person lies a monster, waiting to strike at your weakest moment. Conversations turn to arguments. Love turns to hatred and soon that perfect moment becomes the day you regret. But what if that moment never comes? What if hatred never creeps in? What if arguments never arise because two separate souls were meant to become one? Why? Because unbeknownst to you that person has studied you, watching your every moment, listening to your every sound.

That person knows what you look like when you’re truly happy, the face you make when you’re disappointed. There are no secrets to keep, because there isn’t a single thing that person doesn’t already know.

There are people who desperately long for love. That Hollywood magic kind of love where you dance in the rain and grow old together. As a result, they open their lives up to strangers in hopes of the right person walking through their door and into their hearts.

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Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) is one of those people who needs for someone to notice her so she can feel like she matters. So that she is loved like she yearns to be, and can live like she dreams. The problem? The life Guinevere lives is a lie. She’s in love with the idea of love, without ever have been loved.

Her boyfriend Ron (Daniel Cosgrove) is a Williamsburg hipster stereotype who thinks his claim to fame is a line of artisanal sodas (including cumin flavored). He’s uncaring, forgetful, inattentive, selfish and in every sense, a douche. However, Guinevere loves him…or the idea of him, even though her head says otherwise. But is it love or is it loneliness?

Guinevere for all purposes is the poster child of a “living your dreams”. As an inspiring writer/poet, she moved to New York City to pursue her dreams while getting her college education. She has rich friends, lives in a glamorous apartment and she often attends parties. She’s loving her life. However, that is the image she wants to people to see. In reality her life is the opposite. She can’t afford her prestigious education, she’s failing her classes, her teacher is making sexual advances at her, she’s in jeopardy of losing her subsidized apartment, her friends are anything but loyal, she’s broke and her poetry is being ignored.

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But you would never know this by looking at her various public social media accounts, where she’s posting inspirational quotes about following your dreams and living your best life. She’s also obsessed with informing the world about her every movement, the people she surrounds herself with and the world she’s carefully created through expertly filtered photos. Like many people in today’s society she’s looking to be noticed. It just so happens she is noticed, but it might not be from the person she wants.

On the surface Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) is a quite and gentle soul working as a bookstore manager in New York City. He is disarming, charming in a best friend way, nonthreatening and looks out Paco (Luca Padovan), his neighbor’s son whose mother is involved in an abusive relationship. He is alone but not lonely. He prefers the company of knowledge; burying himself in poetry, the classics and psychology. He’s kind, friendly and bland. Yet, there’s an air of mystery about him that’s attractive but in a subtle way. He’s the friend you can rely on and the boyfriend who would appreciate you more than most because he’s a safe choice. When you’re in his life, you are the center of his universe. No one else matters but you two. However, at his root, he is also obsessive, controlling, manipulative and deadly. He  never take no for an answer. But at least he’s giving you the attention you’ve always desired.

From the great minds of Greg Berlanti and author Caroline Kepnes, YOU is about the power of love and loneliness wrapped in a delicious psychological treat. Badgley, who is famously known for playing another “safe choice” and hopeless romantic in The CW’s Gossip Girl, takes a darker turn as a Golberg, a man who falls hopelessly in love with Guinevere after meeting her in his bookstore.

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Using the power of the internet, he begins to stalk her, gathering information about her life so he can use it to make her fall in love with him. Elevated by voice-over, the story is told through the life and words of Badgley who is haunting and breathtaking in every scene blurring the lines between a savior and a nightmare. Do bad people deserve to live, even if they’ll never change? Is protecting someone even from themselves justified?

Perfectly balanced with humor and claustrophobic tension that builds organically, YOU is one of the best series coming out of the 2018-2019 Fall lineup. Part love story, part warning lesson, it’s grounded in reality, never becoming a formulaic murder/mystery. Instead it is a multi-layered drama that will keep you on your toes. Badgley is truly terrifying but told entirely from his perspective makes him three-dimensional instead of someone who we’re force to hate. While Lail is facing impending danger, its hard to sympathize with someone whose choices are so reckless they make you scream. Yet, there are moments when Lail allows herself to be so vulnerable, you can’t help but feel a desire to shield her from world.

YOU is an emotional rollercoaster that will leave you breathless, frustrated and completely drawn into its world. Berlanti has created one of his best works this year that helps to elevate Kepnes’ novel and will have you ready to set your entire life (both on and offline) on private.