Woman reads a book in bookshop while man stares at her from behind

Review: Netflix Series “You” Part 1

Man behind woman stares at her as she reads a book in library
Picture from Hollywood Life

In 2018 the series “You” premiered on Netflix, and with the first series ending on an obvious cliff hanger, it was only a matter of time until it would be followed by a second series, which came out at the end of 2019. But is this series worth a watch?

The first series of “You” introduced the character Joe, a young man who was happy to keep himself to himself, having no family to speak of and enjoying his job at a small bookshop in New York, not getting involved in petty online squabbles or trying to prove himself through social media.

The series followed Joe’s point of view, with his direct narration cleverly manipulating the action of the series. It’s impossible not to see him as the ultimate unreliable narrator, and his narrative cannot help but draw you in.

Early on in the series Joe meets Guinivere Beck, an unstable and insecure young woman who is just looking for someone who will love her- and she jumps at the chance to start seeing Joe. Joe’s traditional approach to love comes as a shock to a girl with severe daddy issues, who is used to being messed around by men.

And Joe falls for Beck too. It’s clear that he sees her as someone that needs looking after, someone who needs protecting. So much so that he knows he would do anything for her. And its a question you have to ask yourself while you watch the series: wouldn’t you do anything for someone you love? It’s this that Joe uses to justify what happens throughout the series, twisting it to fit with his own ideas of what is right and wrong.

Before long Beck’s ex, Benjie, and her best friend, Peaches, come under scrutiny from Joe. Admittedly everyone but Beck can see that Benjie and Peaches are just using her, and they’re not nice people, but it becomes clear that Joe slowly turns from looking out for Beck, into controlling and following her every move.

This genre is not something which normally interests me, but the way the series slowly builds up towards more and more psychological twists and turns was an element which really drew me in. It was a brilliant portrayal of how easy it is to stalk and manipulate someone- with this being even more prevalent in the age of social media.

The focus on Joe’s character allows the audience to view the inner workings of this awful yet complex person- and question the psychology of his actions. While I would definitely recommend this series, there are a few shocking and upsetting scenes. I am very squeamish so it is not particularly gory, and the “scary” aspects of this series were more psychological than anything else, except perhaps in the last few episodes.

I’m hoping that series 2 is equally interesting, captivating and thrilling- look out for a Part 2 review coming soon to The Yorker.

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Eleanor Jones

Deputy Editor of the Yorker and final year History and French student at the University of York

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