Tv Show Review: YOU –– For Those Who Longs For Crazy, Crazy Love
Based on Caroline Kepnes’ best-selling novel of the same name, Tv show YOU is a 21st century love story that asks, “What would you do for love?” When a brilliant bookstore manager crosses paths with an aspiring writer, his answer becomes clear: anything. Using the internet and social media as his tools to gather the most intimate of details and get close to her, a charming and awkward crush quickly becomes obsession as he quietly and strategically removes every obstacle––and person––in his way.
A Sneak Peek Into “YOU”
You walk into the bookstore and you keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn’t slam. You smile, embarrassed to be a nice girl, and your nails are bare and your V-neck sweater is beige and it’s impossible to know if you’re wearing a bra but I don’t think that you are. You’re so clean that you’re dirty and you murmur your first word to me—hello—when most people would just pass by, but not you, in your loose pink jeans, a pink spun from Charlotte’s Web and where did you come from?
You are classic and compact, my own little Natalie Portman circa the end of the movie Closer, when she’s fresh-faced and done with the bad British guys and going home to America. You’ve come home to me, delivered at last, on a Tuesday, 10:06 A.M. Every day I commute to this shop on the Lower East Side from my place in Bed-Stuy. Every day I close up without finding anyone like you. Look at you, born into my world today. I’m shaking and I’d pop an Ativan but they’re downstairs and I don’t want to pop an Ativan. I don’t want to come down. I want to be here, fully, watching you bite your unpainted nails and turn your head to the left, no, bite that pinky, widen those eyes, to the right, no, reject biographies, self-help (thank God), and slow down when you make it to fiction.
I let you disappear into the stacks—Fiction F–K—and you’re not the standard insecure nymph hunting for Faulkner you’ll never finish, never start; Faulkner that will harden and calcify, if books could calcify, on your nightstand; Faulkner meant only to convince one-night stands that you mean it when you swear you never do this kind of thing. No, you’re not like those girls. You don’t stage Faulkner and your jeans hang loose and you’re too sun-kissed for Stephen King and too untrendy for Heidi Julavits and who, who will you buy? You sneeze, loudly, and I imagine how loud you are when you climax. “God bless you!” I call out.
You giggle and holler back, you horny girl, “You too, buddy.”
Buddy. You’re flirting and if I was the kind of asshole who Instagrams, I would photograph the F–K placard and filter the shit out of that baby and caption it:
F—K yes, I found her.
Calm down, Joe. They don’t like it when a guy comes on too strong, I remind myself. Thank God for a customer and it’s hard to scan his predictable Salinger—then again, it’s always hard to do that. This guy is, what, thirty-six and he’s only now reading Franny and Zooey? And let’s get real. He’s not reading it. It’s just a front for the Dan Browns in the bottom of his basket. Work in a bookstore and learn that most people in this world feel guilty about being who they are. I bag the Dan Brown first like it’s kiddie porn and tell him Franny and Zooey is the shit and he nods and you’re still in F–K because I can see your beige sweater through the stacks, barely. If you reach any higher, I’ll see your belly. But you won’t. You grab a book and sit down in the aisle and maybe you’ll stay here all night. Maybe it’ll be like the Natalie Portman movie Where the Heart Is, adapted faithlessly from the Billie Letts book—above par for that kind of crud—and I’ll find you in the middle of the night. Only you won’t be pregnant and I won’t be the meek man in the movie. I’ll lean over and say, “Excuse me, miss, but we’re closed” and you’ll look up and smile. “Well, I’m not closed.” A breath. “I’m wide open. Buddy.”
“Hey.” Salinger-Brown bites. He’s still here? He’s still here. “Can I get a receipt?”
“Sorry about that.”
He grabs it out of my hand. He doesn’t hate me. He hates himself. If people could handle their self-loathing, customer service would be smoother.
“You know what, kid? You need to get over yourself. You work in a bookstore. You don’t make the books. You don’t write the books and if you were any good at reading the books, you probably wouldn’t work in a bookstore. So wipe that judgmental look off your face and tell me to have a nice day.”
This man could say anything in the world to me and he’d still be the one shame-buying Dan Brown. You appear now with your intimate Portman smile, having heard the motherfucker. I look at you. You look at him and he’s still looking at me, waiting.
“Have a nice day, sir,” I say and he knows I don’t mean it, hates that he craves platitudes from a stranger. When he’s gone, I call out again because you’re listening, “You enjoy that Dan Brown, motherfucker!”
You walk over, laughing, and thank God it’s morning, and we’re dead in the morning and nobody is gonna get in our way. You put your basket of books down on the counter and you sass, “You gonna judge me too?”
“What an asshole, right?”
“Eh, probably just in a mood.”
You’re a sweetheart. You see the best in people. You complement me.
“Well,” I say and I should shut up and I want to shut up but you make me want to talk. “That guy is the reason that Blockbuster shouldn’t have gone under.”
You look at me. You’re curious and I want to know about you but I can’t ask so I just keep talking.
“Everybody is always striving to be better, lose five pounds, read five books, go to a museum, buy a classical record and listen to it and like it. What they really want to do is eat doughnuts, read magazines, buy pop albums. And books? Fuck books. Get a Kindle. You know why Kindles are so successful?”
You laugh and you shake your head and you’re listening to me at the point when most people drift, go into their phone. And you’re pretty and you ask, “Why?”
“I’ll tell you why. The Internet put porn in your home—”
I just said porn, what a dummy, but you’re still listening, what a doll.
“And you didn’t have to go out and get it. You didn’t have to make eye contact with the guy at the store who now knows you like watching girls get spanked. Eye contact is what keeps us civilized.”
Your eyes are almonds and I go on. “Revealed.”
You don’t wear a wedding ring and I go on. “Human.”
I have been eyeing this show for quite a while, although I never had the guts to pick it up worrying that it would be too scary for me. However, your girl could not be happier that one of my friend who has already watched YOU, fervently recommend this show to me. I was sure that he was this close to forcing me to sit down and toothpick my eyelids open had I delayed watching this show any longer.
But alas, your girl did pick up YOU. And what do you know, I binge-watched this fucker in one sitting. I thought it was just going to be those serious stalker-who-kills-people type of show, but hell no. This show knocked it off the park with Joe’s satirical humor and of course, Beck’s beauty. Ugh. Beck. That girl is fucking gorgeous. I’m not gay but homegirl could get it, if you know what I mean. *wink wink*
Alright alright, lewd jokes aside, let’s get into this review.
JOE. JOE, JOE, JOE
I like the guy. Like, okay, that’s a lie. I love the guy. For a serial killer, Joe’s scale of funniness is pretty up there.
Look, I get it. If you really look at it and dissect this man’s behavior and way of thinking, I am more than 70% sure that there is something very psychologically wrong with him. Maybe he’s a sociopath, maybe he’s a psychopath. I don’t know, and I don’t want to waste my breath trying to put a label on the guy. Let us talk about the facts:
- Joe kills. Not one, not two, many.
- Joe is kiiiiiinda hot. (come on ladies and gents, gotta admit boy is fine)
- He reads. A lot. He likes books so much that he works in a book store.
- Joe stalks. Obsessively.
- Being inside Joe’s head is quite fun, not gonna lie. The way to narrate things and have conversations with himself is fun to listen to. (By all means, boy is definitely not normal because no one in their right mind could calmly and funnily narrate a situation while planning a murder. But I have to give it to him, he is quite fun to listen to)
- Joe is….obsessive. Caring, as well. But obsessive, to the point where he would break into people’s houses and go through their things.
From the lists of facts above, we can all summarize that homeboy is definitely not right in the head. Maybe he has demons, childhood trauma that made him what he is today. But if we put all of the morals aside, I think many could agree that Joe is, generally, a pretty agreeable person. As long as you don’t step on his toes that is.
Cause then you die.
Honestly, I didn’t get her deal at first when I started watching the show. I don’t get Joe’s obsession with her. Beck just looks like one of those try hard girls who want to fit in so badly in New York. Her friends are all rich snobs who don’t really care for her, her professor is an ass who only wants to fuck her and in the midst of all that, she was also fucking a guy called Benji who couldn’t even bother to stay sober long enough to give her a release after he bust a nut in her.
Beck’s life before Joe was simply: a mess.
I didn’t care for her, I didn’t like her. She was one of many other girls out there in the big apple, nothing special. However, as the story went on, the way I see her started to shift. I stopped seeing her from a stranger’s point of view, but instead, from Joe’s. Beck’s messiness became adorable, through her snobby friends we could see how much she cared for them, the way she stood up for herself instead of letting people around her belittle her. Through Joe’s eyes, the viewers started to fall in love with Beck. Including me.
At first she was just another ordinary girl in a sea of millions, but through the lenses of Joe’s eyes, I––like Joe––started to care for Beck and want to protect her from everything in the world that is bad.
PEACH SALINGER, A BITCH OR …?
Hmm…I don’t exactly know how I feel about Peach Salinger. Skip this whole section if you haven’t watched YOU because it’s going to get very spoilery.
It seems to be pretty clear to me from early on that Peach has a thing for Beck. Even before Joe figured it out. It was just kind of obvious the way she hovers over Beck and would get jealous whenever Beck is fucking a new guy. So there we go, Peach is gay. However, due to her family and the money that follows it, she was unable to fully embrace her sexuality and date whoever she wants. Because if she does that, she would be disowned from her family, leaving her with no money, no connection and therefore, unable to continue living her lavish lifestyle.
And for those who have watched how Peach is in the show, you know this is the last thing she would ever do. She would rather just suck it up rather than admit to her parents that she is gay and lose all her privileges. Which is fair. To be honest, I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same were I in her position.
What made her kind of hard to like, was her need to control everything and everyone around her. Especially Beck. Whenever she and Beck would quarrel or argue, Peach would play the victim––such as faking suicide, the girl even has a suicide notebook where she lists all the drugs to be used so her fake suicide was a controlled one for god’s sake––to get Beck to rush to her side.
Another thing that made people dislike her, was the fact that Peach was manipulative as heck. I don’t think she even knows what the word “loyalty” means. The girl put herself above everything and everyone else, even the people who she call friends. Again, nothing wrong with that. It just doesn’t make her the most likable character of the bunch. Memorable she is, likable she is not.
WHAT WILL YOU DO FOR LOVE?
This show poses a very interesting question: just what exactly, will you do for love?
If you ask that to Joe, he would say: anything. He says that, and he means it too. Joe would quite literally do anything for Beck, there is no line he would not cross for her. Not even murder.
Morally, we know this is wrong. Murder is wrong, no matter how noble your reasoning is behind it. No matter if you do it out of compassion, or revenger or love. Murder is wrong….or at least that’s how it’s been ingrained onto us. However, from the point of view of us viewers of YOU who have been following Joe and Beck’s journey since episode one, we are biased. We know it is wrong, yet at the same time, we can’t help but want to defend Joe’s actions somehow.
Sure he might be wired a little differently, but that doesn’t mean he is not capable of compassion. He is not the killers we hear about in the news who are painted as this evil and horrendous human being. We empathize because we have seen different facets to Joe. Sad Joe, happy Joe, angry Joe, in love Joe, compassionate Joe. Despite knowing all the ugly and scary things that Joe is capable of, we also know he is capable of showing love, being patient and being compassionate.
So now, even if he does love differently, who are we to tell him that our way of loving is right and his is wrong? If you really want to argue about it, Joe was willing to go as far as killing someone to show his love––no matter his reasons––doesn’t that mean, he’s capable of love bigger and grander than anything any of us could have imagined?
COULD YOU LOVE A KILLER?
Now, this is a question that I, for some reason, keep coming back to. So if, a very big if, your significant other turned out to be a killer, could you still love them?
My honest answer to this question? I don’t know.
And that answer surprises me. It’s not a definite yes, but it’s also not a definitive no. I don’t know give space for thought, by saying I don’t know I am giving it the benefit of the doubt. I have always known that the world is not as black and white as we all like to think it is, books have helped opened my mind to that. But at the same time, by me saying “I don’t know”, what kind of person does that make me?
Does that also make me––by society’s definition––some sort of psychopath or sociopath? Or am I just an empath? But then again, I am not thinking or behaving the way normal people should when asked about something like this, does that mean something is wrong with me?
Those are the things that has been spinning around in my head after I finished this show a few days ago. Very interesting the kind of new thoughts that YOU managed to invoked in me. I wonder what kind of things does this show evoke in other people?
Recommend. Highly recommend.
I need to buy a dozen donuts and send it to my friend for pushing me to start this show. I could not be any more grateful for his tenacity to sell YOU to me, because now, your girl is obsessed.
One thing I wished I would have done before I started watching this tv show though, is to read the book first. I feel like I would have been able to enjoy the show better had I read the book series beforehand, because now after I’ve watched the show, I don’t think I will double back to pick up the book again as I already know what’s going to go down. And as much as I love reading, a book is definitely much longer to finish than a tv show. So if possible, I would definitely recommend anyone who’s thinking of watching this show to give the novels a try first then watch the show.
YOU evoked a lot of interesting conversation topics amongst me and my friends, it is truly interesting to see how that once we have known someone better and follow their life stories for a little bit, how biased us humans could become. Because let’s admit it, had Joe be just any other stranger that got prosecuted and throw to jail with just his black and white picture put up, we would not have hesitated to paint him as the bad guy. Because it’s true, he is a killer. But now, because we’ve been following his journey and also come to love him as a character, it’s harder to us to pass judgement so callously like that. Even when we know the things he did was wrong.
I think if anything, it showed me that as humans there are different layers to us. Because how I am with my friends are vastly different with how I am with my coworkers, my boss, professors, strangers. You get the idea. And that’s the same with killers. Just because they are a killer, doesn’t mean there are not other facets to them. We like to instantly clarify someone who did something morally wrong as just that: a bad person. Black and white. YOU showed me that the world truly is not as black and white as most of us would like to think.
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