A brilliant depiction of a sociopath, but ultimately not for me.
Final score: 3 out of 5
“YOU” is a new psychological thriller from Netflix following the love affair of Beck, a broke grad student, and Joe, her stalker. A chance encounter at the bookstore run by Joe quickly turns into an obsession for him, and this show has no qualms about showing the depth of Joe’s depravity. He watches through her window, monitors her social media accounts, and manipulates her into crossing paths with him. This show feels incredibly dirty, as a lot of it is narrated by Joe as he explains his methods and techniques as a stalker.
At surface level, the show feels like Dexter, albeit with a less charismatic and relatable protagonist. Where Dexter has moments of comedy to break up the drama and strives to make the lead likable despite being a killer, YOU leans hard into the dark and sinister world of Joe’s mind.
After a couple episodes, I realized I had no idea who Joe was. I had no adjectives to describe this person, except “creepy”. At first I thought they just weren’t doing a good job of establishing their protagonist, but I quickly realized the genius of it: Joe is a textbook sociopath. I can’t describe him, because there’s no one there. The show seems even more sinister when Beck begins to reveal her own secrets, complete with her own narrations.
Ultimately, despite some solid storytelling choices, the overall plot is pretty predictable. Joe and Beck’s relationship seems very shoehorned, with all the typical twists, turns, and setbacks of a typical romance story - with the added wrinkle that Joe is a murderous sociopath. Overall, I’d rate the show 3 out of 5 stars, although I should disclose that, at the time of writing, I’ve only seen half the season.