Follow TV Tropes

Following

Series / You

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/you_7.png
At the end of the day, people really are just disappointing, aren't they?

I should have seen the signs. But you never do when you're in love.
Advertisement:

You is a psychological thriller series developed by Sera Gamble (Supernatural, The Magicians) and Greg Berlanti, based on the novel of the same name by Caroline Kepnes.

Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) seems like a perfectly normal bookstore manager on the surface, but when he meets Beck (Elizabeth Lail), a graduate student and aspiring writer, it soon becomes clear that all is not well with him. As his crush on Beck escalates to an actual relationship, Joe becomes increasingly more intent on keeping her around, by any means necessary.

You originally aired on Lifetime in late 2018, but it was later announced that the series would be moving to Netflix for its second season. The second season dropped in December 2019, adapting the source material's sequel, Hidden Bodies.

Not to be confused with the 2013 novel of the same name.

Advertisement:


You contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • It's revealed in his backstory that Joe's father was abusive to him, while his mom did nothing to protect him.
    • Ivan Mooney, the owner of the bookstore, also counts. He took Joe in from foster care and was verbally abrasive to him, even going as far as to lock him in the book vault/cage whenever he acted out.
    • Played with in Beck's case. Her father is more neglectful than abusive, preferring to dote on his new wife and her children instead of trying to repair his relationship with Beck beyond giving her money for her tuition, rent etc.
    • Played straight with Love and Forty. Forty's father is a very critical, cold, and dismissive towards Forty, but this appears to be somewhat understandable as Forty is a drug addict. But this becomes so much worse when it's revealed that they covered up his rape by an au pair with money, and directly before, Love's mother slaps her hard across the face, blaming her for Forty's relapse.
  • Advertisement:
  • Accidental Murder: Joe hadn't actually meant to kill Henderson, but figures he had it coming anyway.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Delilah. In the book, she is a Satellite Love Interest (at best) who is just used for sex by Joe, reduced to a Running Gag, and is Too Dumb to Live. In the series, she is a strong-willed survivor and feminist journalist who was previously assaulted by Henderson and manages to expose him for it under great pressure, and a very protective big sister who genuinely loves her sister and will go to great lengths to protect her.
    • Candace. She's already dead in the book. In the series, she comes back to New York to threaten Joe into not hurting anyone else and follows him to Los Angeles, stalks Forty and Love, gets in a relationship with Forty, and follows Joe around.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The show's second season is a rather fascinating case of distillation and Adaptation Expansion, as relates to the sequel novel, Hidden Bodies. On the one hand, the second season cuts out most of Joe's work as a screenwriter from the novel, turning him instead into Forty's very reluctant collaborator (in the novel, Joe writes most of Forty's screenplays, only for Forty to screw him over and take credit for them). The show also cuts out a lot of Joe's time hanging out with the Quinn family, his murder of Officer Fincher in Mexico, Forty's trip to Vegas, Joe tracking him down and attempting to murder him in the desert and Joe ending up in jail at the end of the novel for his crimes from the first book.
  • Adaptation Expansion: On the other hand, the show adds a fair bit, including the character of Ellie, who doesn't exist in the book. Love's violent sociopathy is also completely unique to the series. Delilah's crusade against Henderson is also not at all in the book.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Karen Minty. In the book, she's a kind but completely clueless nurse, who is heartlessly used by Joe even though she only wants a normal life with him. In the TV series, she's Claudia's best friend and co-worker, who, with extreme difficulty, helps Joe to get Claudia clean and takes care of Paco.
    • While Joe is still firmly a Villain Protagonist, two changes help him to appear much more heroic: Paco and Claudia, his neighbors. Claudia is abused by her boyfriend, Ron, and Joe is the only person who takes care of Paco while this is happening. He's constantly shown to be looking out for Paco's best interests, and no-one is sad when Joe finally has enough and kills Ron. The Joe of the book, on the other hand, is incredibly unsympathetic to kids or anyone except his infatuations and maybe Mr. Mooney.
    • The cop that Delilah dates, Fincher, has his closest book counterpart in a Scary Black Man cop who - at least in Joe's estimation - is a creepy fame whore behind the mask. He's actually a kind, heroic cop in the series who genuinely cares for Delilah and tries to reveal the truth about Henderson's perversity.
    • Forty. In the book, he finds out the truth about Joe and is happy to keep it quiet providing that Joe writes screenplays for him for the rest of their lives, on top of being a sleazy manipulator. In the series, he is genuinely devoted to his sister Love's wellbeing and when he finds out the truth about Joe, he takes a gun to Joe in an attempt to protect Love from him.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Beck, so much, which makes the negative reaction some viewers have towards her even more noticeable. Book Beck is cruel about Joe to her friends, telling them he has nothing but her in his life. She's also a Gold Digger (according to Benji, but she also takes advantage of Peach), admits that she doesn't care about Peach, and intentionally seduces most of the men around her. She even admits to Joe right before he kills her that she just wanted Nicky to break up with his wife for her and she wanted to screw up his kids, even though she had no interest in pursuing an actual relationship with him. Television Beck is much kinder to Joe, is never rude about him to her friends, genuinely tries to help Peach, babysits Paco, and most noticeably, while she does cheat on Joe with Nicky, she also permanently ends the relationship when she gets back together with Joe.
    • Blythe, Beck's classmate and friend. In the book, Beck dislikes her and complains about her endlessly. Blythe constantly criticizes Beck's stories (although Joe admits Jerkass Has a Point). When she and Nice Guy Ethan get together in the book, she is extremely rude to him and domineering. In the television series, Beck is still shown being jealous of her and Blythe is still self-important and snobby, but they become genuine friends. Blythe helps Beck with her writing without jealousy and ends up happy with Ethan.
    • Forty. Joe despises him in the book, and while in the series he does describe him as an "adult baby" as someone who needs attention and love from everyone, and clings on tight to Love, he actually is a very sweet, protective brother deep down and his main creepy behaviour only comes out when he's high, while book-Forty is actually even more of a creep constantly.
  • Adaptational Sexuality:
    • Peach is a Psycho Lesbian in the book, but here, she at least willingly has sex with Raj, suggesting she's a Depraved Bisexual instead. It is clear that she'd prefer for it to be Beck, though, so she may still be gay and just using Raj as a smokescreen.
    • Forty is straight in the book, but in the series, he's very Ambiguously Bi. Despite his relationship with Amy Adam, Forty loves Joe and clings on tight to him.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Peach is a sedate version. While in the book she is not a nice person and a massively manipulative annoyance, Peach of the book never would've done something as bad as setting Beck up to be sexually assaulted by a famous writer and potential mentor.
    • For a mild version of "villainy:" Beck's non-Peach friends come off much worse in the show than in the book, where they're actually fairly supportive of Beck, give her good advice, recognize Peach's toxicity and encourage her to pursue a healthy relationship with Joe (they don't know what he really is, of course). They're much more unpleasant in the adaptation, and there's a sub-plot (which isn't the book) where Annika goes viral when Peach shares video of racist remarks she made in college.
    • Love and Forty's parents border on Too Good for This Sinful Earth in the book, except some individual problems that seem like they might be trying to help, like letting a hooker blow the fifteen-year-old Forty and accidentally making everything worse. However, in the TV series, they're nasty, perverse master manipulators that are perfectly willing to cover up that Love is a murderer and, while Love and Forty's father does dislike Forty, he isn't so cruel, and neither are physically abusive in the book.
    • Love herself. In the book, she finds out about Joe's crimes and willingly covers them up. However, in the series, she turns out to be a murderer and a major Yandere. She kills Delilah and Candace, two of the most sympathetic characters and past victims of Joe's. Although Forty's rapist was an Asshole Victim of the first order, she also had no problem making Forty believe he committed the crime.
    • Henderson was not a good person in the book, and his increased villainousness here might be chalked up to the Values Dissonance stemming from the Me Too movement. Book-Henderson was a lonely creep who habitually hit on and slept with women, including women he worked with and judged them on their appearance. Television Henderson is a serial rapist who drugs and sexually abuses underage girls.
  • Aerith and Bob:
    • There are characters such as Joe, Benji, Karen, and Roger alongside Guinevere, Annika and Peach.
    • The second series takes this Up to Eleven, as there are characters named Calvin, Dotty,
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Joe's last name, Goldberg, is common among Ashkenazim, and Peach mentions going to "Jew camp" as a child. There's no other indication of them being Jewish though. (In the book, Joe and Peach are both half-Jewish and half-Christian.)
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • At the end of Season 1, Joe kills Beck and ultimately gets away with it.
    • Season 2 provides a more mixed example. Love definitely wins, as she ends up married and pregnant by Joe, able to control him whenever she wants. Joe also sort of wins, as he ends up living a life of privilege and unimaginable luxury, but he also has to do it under Love's watchful and often murderous eye, and it's clear the Quinns will dispose of him if he gets out of line.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • In episode 3, Joe discovers that Beck is planning to spend the weekend in a motel with a much older man, and the show frames it as Beck meeting her sugar daddy. Said man turns out to be her father.
    • A whole episode basically is devoted to showing that Joe probably killed Delilah while she was locked in the cage. It turns out that Love did it.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: After Joe has hit Peach on the head from behind, leaving her almost dead, a recovering Peach very grimly tells Joe that for all of his modest Boy Next Door behavior, it was him ...... who warned Peach that she might have a stalker.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Most of Beck's friends are beautiful and glamorous, with Peach a particular example. Beck desperately wants to be one too, but she's constantly broke just from trying.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Averted by Joe, who won't let anyone stand between him and Beck. However, played straight at the end of Season 1 when Paco finds Beck locked up in the basement. Emphasised in that Beck was also nice to him, but Paco owes Joe for killing Ron and admires him, so he leaves Beck to die.
  • Betty and Veronica: Beck unknowingly plays the Archie to Peach's Betty and Joe's Veronica. Later, she becomes the Veronica to Karen's Betty for Joe's Archie.
  • Big Applesauce: The setting of the first season.
  • Big Fancy House:
    • Peach's Greenwich estate.
    • The Quinn family home.
  • Boggles the Mind: Beck and Joe play Scrabble covered in romance / love-themed words.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Love and Forty's parents fall into this trope, being obscenely wealthy business moguls who are into New Age/Eastern philosophy.
  • Black Comedy: The series is primarily a thriller/drama, but Joe's narration is full of snort-worthy lines, usually due to his snarker tendencies, or sheer Refuge in Audacity.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Peach makes an enemy out of Joe with her disapproval, suspicion, condescension, and blatant hostility. If he really was nothing but a modest book store manager of no great means – and not, say, a Machiavellian, sociopathic Serial Killer with a mean streak on par with her own – she might have lived longer.
  • Bunker Woman: Beck becomes one at the end of the show when Joe imprisons her in the glass box under the bookstore. He kills her there.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • For most of the show, Joe is a twisted manipulator. But in an ironic twist, the one time he's being totally honest, that Peach is setting Beck up to fail, Beck doesn't believe him.
    • Love and Forty don't believe Candace when she tells them that Joe is a stalker and serial killer.
  • Casting Gag: A television adaptation of a book series wherein Penn Badgley portrays a sociopathic, tech-savvy stalker of a pretty blonde girl in New York City with literary leanings — are we talking about You or Gossip Girl?
  • Cast Full of Rich People: Just about everyone is unusually wealthy, and subverted only with Beck in Season 1. She couldn't pay rent and often had to stay in demoralizing or bad jobs, as a TA, in order to make money. It's also clear in the book that Joe is very poor, but in the series, he has no problem packing up and leaving LA at the drop of a hat, and apparently doesn't struggle to pay rent despite all of this.
  • The Chain of Harm: Joe was locked in Mooney's cage by Mr. Mooney and burned and abused in foster care. He physically tortures Benji and emotionally tortures Beck in the cage.
  • Character Narrator: Joe constantly narrates his often disturbing train of thought, and in episode 4 Beck takes over from him for a bit.
  • Chick Magnet: Even during his brief break-ups with Beck and Love, Joe has immediate rebound hookups with Karen Minty and Delilah. He's also subjected to light flirting from Ellie and multiple women coming onto him during his online dating attempts.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl:
    • Peach, who gets noticeably upset whenever Beck talks about her love life with men.
    • Beck gets jealous when she sees Joe with Karen.
    • Love. She instantly wants Joe after one conversation in a supermarket, she wants him to meet her friends within days, and she kills his ex-girlfriend and a girl he has locked in the cage just to protect him.
  • Composite Character: Candace is one of Amy Adam (whose name she uses as an alias) as a surviving victim of Joe's, and even takes on some qualities of Love, as she becomes an indie film producer thanks to Forty, although she is still Joe's first love and victim as in the book.
  • Continuity Nod: When Joe first meets Ellie, she says she's fifteen, but "basically sixteen." In the season finale, when she tells Joe that she can't move across the country because she's only fifteen, he responds by saying, "Basically sixteen, right?"
  • Covert Pervert: Joe checking Beck out when they first meet, which she isn't privy to.
  • Creepy Uncle: In her final story, Beck alludes to her uncle groping her during Thanksgiving when she was twelve, and being scarred from the look her father gave her when she told him, implying that he blamed her for it.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms:
    • After Beck has an unsatisfying tryst with Benji, Joe watches Beck masturbate from outside her apartment. It inspires him to do the same right there on the sidewalk hidden in the bushes, but he's interrupted when an old lady walks over.
    • He does it again in a later episode when he discovers a picture of Beck in a swimsuit among the hundreds of photos of Beck that Peach has on her laptop. Joe masturbates to the picture and, when he's 'finished', resumes snooping through Peach's laptop.
    • Beck attempts this while waiting for The Captain in her motel room. She’s interrupted however, when he turns up early.
    • Joe attempted this during his first day at work with an illusion of Love. However, in trying to break himself out of his habit, he stops midway and doesn't do it again during the season.
  • Dating Service Disaster: In an attempt to make Love jealous, Joe goes on a dating site for readers and has three dates: a vapid woman who spends their date taking selfies, a weirdo with zero personal boundaries, and an charming literate woman who ends up getting too emotional and needs to be ubered home.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Episode 4 mostly focuses on Beck, with her taking over as the episode's narrator for some bits.
  • The Day the Music Died: Episode 2 has Beck and Joe on the balcony. Romantic music swells as she leans in towards him, but dies down when she just places her head on his shoulder and calls him a good friend.
  • Deconstruction: Joe is a deeply disturbed guy who clearly sees himself as the protagonist in a romantic comedy, even explicitly referencing how "guys like him" always experience hilarious mishaps in romcoms. The show is, among other things, a deconstruction of romantic comedy behavior and the audience's instinctual sympathy for romantic protagonists.
  • Destructo-Nookie: When Beck has sex with a bartender in "Maybe" they end up breaking her bed.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Joe kidnapping Benji and braining Peach with a rock were premeditated actions with the intent to do harm. However, he didn't think of what to do beyond that and panics as he has to think of what to do next.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Most of the deaths are different.
    • Candace... twice. Joe killed her by drowning her in the book. In the series, he buried her alive instead, but she survived, and then Love slit her throat.
    • Peach. In the book, Joe bludgeons her on the beach; in the series, they wrestle over her gun in her garden and he shoots her.
    • Beck, possibly. In the book, Joe chokes her with pages of The Da Vinci Code. The series makes nothing of the copy, so while we don't see how she dies, it's unlikely it was the same way. In season 2, when Joe sees a hallucination of Beck, she undoes her scarf revealing bruises around her neck, implying that Joe strangled Beck.
    • Forty. In the book, he is killed getting hit by a car after jaywalking. In the series, he gets shot by a police officer after threatening Joe.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Beck has issues with this, by her own admission, because her dad left the family after divorcing her mom to marry his sober coach who he'd met while giving up drugs. She is apparently the only one of his three children who he still even has contact with. Their relationship seems to consist of him paying for rent and her college tuition to a certain degree, along with occasional visits. She pretends he's dead with most people. Her step mom likes to guilt-trip Beck over allegedly only using him as a cash machine, and having not been religious enough to keep him from getting into drugs, which explains why she doesn't visit him more. Beck's clearly jealous because his two stepchildren see her dad far more than she does, and learning her step mom is going to have a baby just makes her feel worse.
    • We never learn where Paco's father is, but his mom's now single and has an abusive boyfriend. She later says he deserves better, hoping to find a good father figure for him.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Joe's reaction finding out that Dr. Nicky was sleeping with Beck while they were dating? Frame him for the three of the four onscreen murders Joe committed throughout the series.
    • He thinks Benji is a colossal douchebag. It's only natural that he kidnap and eventually murder him.
  • Domestic Abuse: Claudia's boyfriend is an abusive drunk. She's afraid to press charges when he struck her though because of his threats to have her son Paco taken away.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Subverted pointedly in Season 2. Love tells Joe that Forty thinks his first love was an nineteen-year-old au pair who "seduced" him when he was 13. She immediately says that this was abuse and the lie is simply Forty's way of dealing with the trauma.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Season One ends with most of the main cast dead because of Joe, who isn't punished for his actions at all.
    • Season Two ends with him and Love, both murderous stalkers, living in a fancy house in a great neighborhood. Meanwhile, Delilah and Forty are both dead and Ellie is forced to run away.
  • Dramatic Irony: When Joe confronts Beck about accusing him of being a murderer, she tells him that she doesn't believe that Joe is capable of doing anything like that.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point:
    • Joe does this a lot of the time in regards to his stalking and creepy behavior, but in particular there's a point early in season 1 where he gives Paco Don Quixote to read and explains the plot as a man who goes around as a knight because he believes in chivalry, using that to explain how chivalry is about protecting the helpless and how important it is. In the books, however, Don Quixote is a man who went insane from reading too many chivalric novels and actually causes more harm than good over the course of his time as a "knight." It almost describes Joe to a T, especially as those he perceives as "helpless" are grown women with their own autonomy.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Beck does this a lot. It almost gets her killed in the first episode when she drunkenly falls in the subway tracks.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: At least in Paco and his mom's case. After spending so much time being stuck under the thumb of Ron, Joe finally kills him and Paco and his mother move to California once they're free from his abuse.
  • Everyone Has Lots of Sex: Played straight in that Beck, Benji, and even Peach who never has sex with anyone in the book due to the Incompatible Orientation between her and Beck, but has sex with a random guy after Beck rejects her. Joe deliberately avoids sex with everyone except Beck, which backfires when their first time ends in an uncomfortable Instant Turn-Off as Joe lasts only a couple of seconds. Even Joe gets laid minutes after he and Beck break up. Love replaces him within less than a day with Milo after they break up, too.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Joe vs Peach, both of whom vie for Beck's love and affection and see the other as a threat. They're both deplorable people, but both of them raise entirely accurate (if thoroughly hypocritical) points against the other.
  • Faux Yay: Joe pretends to be gay in order to prevent Dr. Nicky from figuring out that Beck, his other patient, is his girlfriend. During the sessions he refers to her as "Ronaldo" while Karen becomes "Brad".
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Lots and lots of shots of people in the glass cage in the basement of the bookstore, hinting that Beck will end up trapped there in the first season finale.
    • When talking about Candace and how their relationship imploded, Joe says he's so paranoid about Beck because he was so into Candace, he "missed the signs." In the second season, he's so into Love and trusts her completely... so he utterly misses all the hints that she's not "all there."
    • In the first episode of the second season, Joe walks past a camera crew filming a dead woman who looks a lot like Candace. This foreshadowed her death later in the season.
    • Joe and Love substitute the word "love" with "wolf" when they tell each other they love each other, and Love playfully attacks Joe's neck with a toy wolf. In the penultimate episode of the second season, Love exposes herself as A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing with a knack for slicing people's necks open.
    • The scenes of Joe chopping Jasper's body are juxtaposed with Love cutting meat, signifying that Love too is a killer.
  • Frame-Up:
    • At the end of season one, Dr. Nicky is arrested for Beck's murder after Joe buries her body on his property. He also hides his box of incriminating evidence in an old drainage, which includes Benji's teeth and Peach's phone, implicating Nicky in both their murders as well.
    • At the end of season two, Love and Joe frame the now-dead Forty for Henderson's death.
  • Framing Device: While most of the narration is Joe's inner monologue, a lot of the narration in Everythingshipis Joe relating his story to Dr. Nicky.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Played for drama. Beck has a very nice living situation, but struggles to pay rent. It turns out that her dad helps sometimes with that.
  • Gaslighting:
    • Candace explicitly calls Joe out for gaslighting when he angrily insists that he never tried to kill her or bury her body. He did, of course.
    • Love tries this on Forty, insisting that he's just spouting wild conspiracy theories about Joe because he's relapsed and back on drugs.
  • Gayngst: Once Joe discovers Peach's secret, he's initially confused that she's not more open about her sexuality. It's Manhattan in 2018, after all - who cares if she likes women? Then he acknowledges that being part of a famous family is a lot of pressure and could have caused Peach to internalize a lot of fears and keep parts of herself secret.
  • Gilded Cage: The heavy implications of Season 2's ending. Joe ends up with the pregnant multi-millionaire Love, who has gotten rid of all his enemies or anyone who could threaten him by murdering them. Joe, having finally got what he wanted, is actually not happy at all and the season closes with him continuing to fantasize about a neighbour girl. He's being watched by the Quinn empire and it's going to turn out very badly for him if he stepsc out of line again.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Benji is treated as a scumbag for cheating on Beck, although they're only informally together. Joe cheats on Karen with Beck, but this is treated as less bad on both sides than Beck cheating on Joe with Dr. Nicky.
  • Granola Girl: Just about everyone in LA is like this except for those who come from New York (Joe and Candace) and addict Forty. Love, all Love's friends, and Love and Forty's parents are very extreme versions.
  • Gut Punch: In general, this show is really good at giving its audience a nasty wake-up call any time they might be viewing our Villain Protagonist too sympathetically.
    • Joe’s cold-blooded murder of Benji. Before this, the audience could be forgiven for thinking that the show is just another straightforward Stalker with a Crush fantasy.
    • The first season finale. Surely, as the object of his affections, Beck will be spared from Joe's violent streak, right? Nooooooope.
    • The last scene of the Season Two premiere, where we find out Joe kidnapped a man and stole his identity, and orchestrated almost everything we've seen thus far in order to get close to Love, whom he was stalking almost as soon as he arrived in Los Angeles. What, you didn't really believe Joe had changed, did you?
    • Right when it looks like Joe has turned over a new leaf, realized the error of his ways, and resigned himself to his "punishment" of being trapped with Love for the rest of his life, we find out he's developed an obsession with his neighbor, and is already planning to find a way for them to be together. Lather, rinse repeat...
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Season 2 ends with Joe deciding to accept the punishment for his crimes, throwing away his escape key and waiting for the cops to come... and then Love promptly kills Candace, prevents him from being turned in, and tells him she's pregnant and that he'll have to go on evading the law for the baby's sake.
  • Here We Go Again!: Whenever it looks like Joe has shaken an obsession, don't be fooled. He'll find another one soon enough. He goes from Candace to Beck to Love to an unsuspecting neighbor girl, with very short gaps in between.
  • Hope Spot:
    • In the season 1 finale, Beck manages to bludgeon Joe and steal his keys. She runs for the exit and it looks like she just might make it. She doesn't.
    • Joe, truly not wanting to kill Delilah, rushes back to the cage to set her free... and finds her with a slashed throat.
  • Hypocrite: Joe. While it's a by-product of his obvious mental issues, it's still notable how countless times, Joe talks of someone being horrible for Beck and outraged by their lying to her when he's doing the same:
    • Notable is his attitude toward Peach, citing it as the stalker behavior of "a person who wants her to herself, wants to control her life and not truly loving you at all." That Joe is the biggest stalker of them all never crosses his mind.
    • When he finds Beck has been looking into his past, Joe rails at her on how "what kind of monster just goes ahead and dives into a person's past without permission?"
    • In the first episode while watching Beck and Benji have sex he smugly notices they had Speed Sex and Benji is a bad lover that fails to make her orgasm. When he finally sleeps with Beck for the first time he lasts ''even less'' and doesn't even say anything or at least go down on her after, leaving her dry.
    • All best summed up in the season finale where Joe goes on and on about all the dangerous people in Beck's life and how they could hurt her... all while she's locked up in a glass cell, begging to be let out.
    • At the end of Season 2, Joe judges Love for killing two people so that she could be with him.
  • Horrible Hollywood: Joe considers Los Angeles to be the ideal hiding spot because most people who know him would know he hates L.A. Over the course of Season 2 we see Joe's point. The place is infested with loan sharks, sex offenders with good publicity, over-privileged drug addicts and uncultured hipsters.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Joe’s indignation over Peach (sort of) stalking Beck is played for a Black Comedy variant of this. Most obvious in the scene where he catches Peach staring covetously at an unaware Beck while the latter is taking a bath, whilst hiding in the house he followed Beck down to and broke into, and while also watching Beck bathe.
      Joe: How dare she [Peach] invade your privacy like this?
    • Joe frequently condemns others' lying, despite constantly doing so himself and building his whole relationship with Beck around one.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Beck doesn't have curtains, which allows Joe to spy on her. She also has no passcode on her phone or computer, despite the fact that she's a writer and her whole life is presumably on there.
    • Delilah has a friends with benefits relationship with David Fincher, the only good cop in Los Angeles (or so it seems). When she enters Joe's cage and finds cast-iron evidence that he's a murderer alone, she calls Fincher to tell him something incredibly vague...but doesn't tell him where she is or even reference what she's found, which ultimately makes it easy for Joe and Love to cover up her death.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Joe kills Beck when she discovers his true nature and is repulsed by it.
  • I Have No Son!: Inverted. Beck tells people that her father died of a drug overdose when she was twelve. While the overdose did happen, he survived it. The reason Beck claims he died is because he divorced her mom after he got sober and took up with his sober coach.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Peach is very loud in bed, as Joe discovers when he's stalking her and hides beneath her bed. He spends the whole night having to hear her moans.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Joe can't get over how obsessed he is with Beck's looks, and when they're alone together for just a few minutes during their breakup he can't keep his hands off of her. Though this can be chalked up to Joe's obsession with her, Beck has the most admirers out of anyone in the show (including an obsessed female friend) and just a few minutes alone with a man usually involves him attempting to make a move on her.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Beck and her friends all went to Brown University.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Both Peach and Joe have this in their conflict. Joe is right that Peach is manipulative, possessive and controlling of Beck as well as very snobby and elitist. Peach is absolutely correct to be wary of Joe for various reasons, and all of her accusations against Joe (that he stole her book and her laptop) are completely true. Similarly, while Claudia's boyfriend is a Domestic Abuser, he isn't far off in his insistence that Joe is a "freak".
  • Killed Offscreen: Beck's death is not shown. As soon as Joe catches her, it Smashes To Black and time skips to the aftermath a few months later.
  • Kinky Spanking: Invoked and subverted. Benji tells Joe that Beck likes to be spanked with a ladle and Joe seems to find the idea exciting. Later when she casually mentions her dad's red ladle he assumes that it was an implement he used to spank her as a child, but she reveals that he just used it to make pancakes.
  • Lighter and Softer: While it's not light by any stretch of the imagination, the adaptation cuts plot points that make both Beck and Joe appear less sympathetic, like Beck telling Dr. Nicky she can't break up with Joe because he's pathetic and depends on her, Beck cheating with just about everyone, and Joe being implied to be a rapist. It also tones down parts that are much more graphic in the book, such as Joe and Beck having sex in the cage just before he kills her, also shortening most of the torture Beck suffers in the cage. In the TV adaptation, Beck and Joe just kiss before she tries to escape, and we don't see Joe murder her, while originally Joe strangles Beck and suffocates her with a book.
  • Love at First Sight: A dark example; Joe's obsessive behavior towards Beck began from the very instant he saw her walk into the bookshop. The show implies at the end of its second season that Joe's "love at first sight" is really just superficial lust toward attractive women to whom he attributes qualities they don't really have. Joe sincerely believes it's love at first sight, of course, so the trope still fits.
  • Love Makes You Crazy:
    • Subverted, because while Joe's infatuation with Beck does make him act out, it's more or less implied that the aforementioned craziness is just who he is.
    • While he's up to his old tricks, Season 2 gives us another, even bigger example: Love.
  • Love Makes You Evil:
    • Deconstructed. Joe thinks that he's playing this trope straight in killing anybody that is between himself and Beck. However, the show demonstrates that Joe lashes out at anybody in Beck's life he views as better or closer to her than he is.
    • Played straight, however, with Love. She seems like a genuinely sweet girl...but she killed Forty's babysitter for sexually abusing him, and she killed both Delilah and Candace solely for being a threat to Joe.
  • Mad Love:
    • Joe towards Beck, which quickly gets out of hand after they start dating.
    • Joe feels this towards Love...which she reciprocates. He loses some interest after finding out just how mad she is.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl:
    • Joe sees Beck this way, but she's not actually a straight example of the trope.
    • Love tries to be one to Joe (aka Will). The problem is that she's insane and this is proof of her serious sociopathy.
  • Misogyny: Joe doesn't respect women much, but the show and the books present Joe's sexism in different ways. In the books, Joe's sexism is fairly clear to the reader early on, as they're told entirely from his point of view, and his narration is shot through with sexist thoughts and language. In the show, however, Joe is actually pretty good at performing a kind progressive egalitarianism, and even refers to himself as a "feminist." It's unclear to what extent he's sincere about at least believing that, as he gets very ugly and unpleasant with women when he's angry.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: After Joe and Karen have sex, she leaves the bed wrapped up in one while still leaving him with a blanket to cover his modesty.
  • Modesty Towel: Beck's wearing one when Joe first peeks at house, which immediately catches his attention.
  • Morality Pet: Joe's affection for Paco, a kid who lives next door. Ellie fills the same role to a lesser degree in Season 2.
  • Most Writers Are Writers:
    • Beck is a poet.
    • Forty is an aspiring screenwriter.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Joe feels this way about anyone who comes between him and Beck, then him and Love, then anyone who threatens his new life at all. So does Love.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Joe is fixated on this, believing that Candace is being sexually harassed although it's implied that she is sleeping with the record exec consensually. This is also invoked in that viewers tend to judge both Candace and Beck very harshly for their sexual promiscuity, and think nothing of the fact that Joe, at the very least, cheats on Karen with Beck.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Joe saves Beck from an oncoming subway train, which leads to an accidental embrace on the ground... but then she vomits on him.
  • Never Suicide:
    • In Season 1, Joe kills Peach and sets it up to appear like a suicide. This is helped due to her having attempted suicide in the past.
    • In Season 2, Joe kills predatory comedian Henderson and makes it look like a suicide.
  • New Media Are Evil: Joe's view of social media, even as he exploits it for his gain.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Due to the loose definition of villains and heroes in this show, it's more or less expected that the heroes will break it sometimes because the protagonist (the villain) has to get away with what he does sometimes.
    • Dr Nicky, :while only a loose definition of a "hero", has the best shot at taking down Joe later in the season. However, having found God, he is utterly disinterested in doing so, which inadvertently leads to Forty's death.
    • Candace wants Love to see Joe for what he really is at the end of Season 2. Bringing Love to the storage locker and spelling out everything she knows was an absolutely horrible idea, though, as it got her killed.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: See above. Referring to "villain" in a literal sense, though:
    • Joe makes Beck lowkey famous near the end of Season 1, as murdering Peach gives her the inspiration to write the article that goes viral.
    • Joe would've ended Season 2 dead or in prison if Love hadn't murdered both Delilah and Candace.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: Joe and Candace say this to each other in Season 2. Needless to say, Joe completely misses the point.
    Why would you be AFRAID of me?!
  • Not His Sled:
    • The novel makes it very clear that Joe killed Candace. The first season tries to imply the same thing without actually showing the moment she died, only for her to show up alive at the very end.
    • Most of Love's arc remains more or less intact from the book. Book Love was married multiple times, and she did end up accepting that Joe had killed Beck and trying to protect him, she never killed anyone herself, and she certainly hadn't before meeting Joe.
  • Not So Different: Henderson was abused as a child, and quickly realizes that Joe is also a victim. Even Joe is momentarily shaken by the revelation.
  • Not Quite Dead:
    • Beck's father is very much alive, despite her telling her friends and Joe that he died when she was young. She has fairly good reasons for it, though.
    • Candace, who turns up very much alive at the end of Season 1.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • At the start of their relationship, Joe gets a few when he accidentally lets slip a piece of information about Beck that he shouldn't know, but he's usually able to pass it off.
    • Joe, when he realizes he's forgotten to feed Benji all day.
  • One-Word Title: You.
  • On the Rebound:
    • Beck sleeps and goes out with a lot of guys after breaking up with Benji.
    • Joe ends up together with Karen right after breaking up with Beck.
    • In season 2, Joe is pressured into using dating apps to rebound, or at least to make Love jealous. They don't work, but he briefly hooks up with Delilah right after his break up with Love
  • Once More, with Clarity!: At the end of season two, we get to see events from Love's eyes, and learn that she has been psychotic like Joe the entire time.
  • Only Sane Woman: Beck, Karen, Candace, Delilah and Ellie prove themselves to be the most sane characters of the series so far.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Love deliberately tries to make Joe jealous by rebounding with Milo, though Joe doesn't believe it even when Forty insists it's true.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Joe was abused or at least severely neglected in foster care and, although he seems very attached to Mooney, Mooney is an emotionally abusive Drill Sergeant Nasty.
  • Papa Wolf: Mooney is a very, very dark example to Joe. Although he locks Joe in the cage and is implied to have taught him to kill people, he also protects Joe and helps him cover up his crime after Joe reveals that he killed the owner of Candace's record label.
  • Parental Abandonment: Poor Beck. She grew up with an addict father, who then left her mother once he got sober. The result of this is her developing abandonment issues and is constantly seeking validation from others, but also panicking and shutting herself off once she gets said validation because she thinks it's going to be taken away from her.
  • Parents as People: Very much the case for Paco's mother Claudia, who has to struggle with an abusive boyfriend as well as an addiction to pills and other drugs, knowing how it's affecting Paco but not knowing how to begin to deal with the problems in her own life.
  • The Peeping Tom:
    • Joe constantly does this to Beck, even watching her having sex with other men through her window.
    • In the second season, he has a telescope set up just to spy on Love.
  • Poor Man's Porn: Joe is a little too excited by a photo of teenage Beck in a bikini.
  • Porn Stash: Lynn has one consisting of over 200 dick pics various men have sent her. Peach also has a secret stash which becomes a plot point.
  • Product Placement: Beck uses Tinder to find casual hookups.
  • Protectorate: Joe takes it upon himself to protect minors, like Paco and Ellie. He even ends up killing Ron to keep Paco safe.
  • Psychological Projection:
    • Going over Peach's photos of Beck, Joe notes "this is not what love is. Let's call it what it is, this is perversion. She wants to control you like she controls every inch of your life. Beck... you have a stalker."
    • Joe sarcastically refers to Benji as "the poster boy for white male privilege", conveniently ignoring that white male privilege is also what helps give predatory guys like Joe the blind spot they need to manipulate and abuse others.
    • Joe criticizes Forty for his misogynistic and shallow writing, while having very misogynistic beliefs himself, and dedicates himself to "fleshing out" Beck's character in the script - after spending an entire season showing what a shallow, poor idea he had of who she really was.
    • In a sadder example, Forty clearly empathizes a lot with Beck's affair with Dr Nicky - especially when he's on LSD - because of being abused himself by an authority figure (his babysitter) and being in deep denial about it.
  • Psychotic Love Triangle:
    • Joe and Peach are in one with Beck, as both of them are obsessed with her and want her to themselves.
    • An especially psychotic one develops - kind of - between Joe, Candace, and Love. Zigzagged in that while she and Joe dated, Candace doesn't want Joe back; she simply wants to stop him from hurting anyone else. Nevertheless, she becomes the biggest obstacle between Joe and Love.
  • Punny Name: Love and Forty are both terms used for keeping score in tennis, and one of their first scenes alone together involve them playing that very sport.
  • Race Lift:
    • Peach is white in the book, but played by mixed-race actress Shay Mitchell in the series.
    • Karen Minty is white in the book, but played by black actress Natalie Paul in the series.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: Beck drunkenly falls onto subway tracks in the pilot, but is saved at the last minute by Joe, who just so happens to also be on the platform with her.
  • Reality Ensues: The final episode of season one launches an example with Beck's imprisonment by Joe and learning about everything he did for her. The audience has mostly been fed the story through Joe's warped perspective, which treats his obsessive behavior like a romantic comedy, and he insists that love can save his relationship with Beck. Beck, in response and getting time to process everything, admits how touched she is that Joe did all that for her, and that she now realizes how he was the only one who ever took care of her. This is what prompts Joe to let her out of the cage. But then only a few moments later, she attacks him, locks him up, and angrily demonstrates how a normal person who had just been locked up in a cage for several days would really feel: she loathes and despises him, and speculates that he's just a messed up "psychopath" using love as an excuse to hurt people.
  • Really Gets Around: Beck sleeps around a lot after breaking up with Benji, which makes Joe and Peach very jealous.
  • Rescue Romance: Beck first gets to know Joe when he saves her from being run over by a train.
  • Revenge Before Reason: In season 2, it becomes clear that Candace doesn't really have a plan to expose Joe, and she is making it up as she goes. In the finale she wants Love to see Joe caged up so badly that she doesn't even call the police after contacting Love. This proves to be her undoing.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Several in Season 2.
    • The entire first episode shows things going seamlessly for Joe. By the end of the episode we find out he'd plotted everything to the letter. At the same time, Love's dinner date with Joe plays out several rom-com cliches, which are revealed to be deliberate on Love's part.
    • Joe disposing of Jasper's corpse using butcher utensils is match cut with shots of Love preparing a fancy dinner. This is a big hint that they're not that different.
    • Love gags Joe the first time they have sex, which makes her look like a rapist. Then we find out she's a Yandere.
  • Romantic Rain: Discussed. When Joe is running to Beck's house to confess his love for her, he notes how it should be his running in the rain moment.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog:
    • Candace. She survives being buried alive, nobody believes her that she was, and a restraining order won't do any good. She goes into hiding and stays that way until she hears about Beck's death. She returns, solely with the intention of stopping Joe from hurting anyone else. When Joe flees to LA, she follows him, gets in a relationship with Forty, and despite her serious trauma, stays close to Joe so she can stop him from hurting anyone, especially Love or Forty. When she tries telling Love and Forty the truth, neither of them believe her. When she believes she has proof that he is a killer, she takes Love to prove it...and Love turns out to be psycho and kills her. It's ultimately All for Nothing.
    • Forty to a lesser extent. A past victim of sexual abuse, he seems to have no real friends except his sister Love, and he thinks he killed his first "love" (his rapist) and this seems to be a large contributing factor to his instability and drug addiction. Actually, it was all Love; she made him believe he was responsible. He doesn't believe Candace's accusations about Joe because he genuinely cares about him, but when he begins to fear that Candace is dead, he attacks Joe with a gun to protect Love. Actually, Love is also insane and killed Candace, but it's a police officer who finally kills Forty. He then gets framed for all the crimes Joe and/or Love committed.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In general, there are too many literary references made in the dialogue to list here. Makes sense, since our protagonist is quite the bookworm.
    • Beck's Twitter handle is @BeckdelTest.
    • Forty calls Joe "old sport". Unlike others on this list, this probably isn't deliberate on the character's part, as Forty doesn't seem to read much.
    • Joe also lives opposite Love and frequently spies on her from his house, reminiscent again of The Great Gatsby.
  • Slashed Throat: This appears to be Love's preferred method of killing people.
  • Soapbox Sadie:
    • Joe perceives Benji as being this way, derisively noting his penchant for posting about social causes like #BlackLivesMatter to a performative degree.
    • Love's friends are also basically exactly like this, although Joe actually puts up with it this time to impress Love.
  • Speed Sex:
    • Benji can't satisfy Beck due to this, and she has to resort to A Date with Rosie Palms.
    • Joe himself doesn't even last 8 seconds the first time he has sex with Beck.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To Gossip Girl. Both feature Penn Badgley as a tech-savvy sociopath stalking a blonde girl in a New York setting, but while Gossip Girl presented that character as a good guy, You emphatically does not.
  • Stockholm Syndrome:
    • Subverted by Beck. She makes Joe believe that she loves him and understands him, before stabbing him so that she could get away.
    • Played straight by Will in Season 2. He genuinely comes to admire Joe.
    • Implied to be the case with Joe and Mr. Mooney. Joe genuinely cares for and admires the old man, despite his upbringing including verbal abuse, slaps to the face, and being locked in a cage for days on end. That said, he does refer to Mooney as "a Soviet prison guard," so he's not completely clueless about how badly he was treated.
  • Tap on the Head: There are so many examples to list here that it's surprising more people on the show don't have brain damage. Most notably when Joe hits Peach in the head with a brick to try to kill her. Like every other surely-fatal blow on the show, however, it doesn't work.
  • Themed Party: For Beck's birthday, her friend talks Joe into throwing a party at his bookstore, where people dress up as their favorite literary characters and writers.
  • Trickster Twins: Forty and Love are a remarkably serious version of this, although she initially doesn't appear to be one. Forty is a flighty drug addict, and Love is a murderer.
  • True Companions: Joe is prepared to utterly hate Love's friends (who are very LA), and they are pretty weird, but they actually turn out to be incredibly supportive. And they really like Joe.
  • Toplessness from the Back:
    • Beck is shown like this for a lot of her sex scenes.
    • A lot of Peach's photos of Beck show are of her topless from the back.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Joe clearly views Forty this way.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot:
    • When Beck vomits on Joe after he saves her from getting hit by a subway train, the shot doesn't pull away.
    • Joe vomits on Delilah after an ill-advised celery diet makes him sick.
    • Love gets one at the end of Season 2.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Beck has one: a Christian fundamentalist 'mommy blogger' who constantly makes jabbed comments to Beck about how much better her father is with her and her children, instead of Beck's mother and her siblings.
  • Yandere: Joe is a rare male example of this trope. He kidnaps Beck's on-again, off-again boyfriend Benji in the very first episode and kills him not long after. Most of the show is devoted to rather viciously taking this trope apart and demonstrating exactly how horrifying it is.
  • Yandere Couple: Season 2 is one long deconstruction. The climax reveals that behind Love's "perfect girl" exterior, she is a cunning, remorseless murderer who killed Forty's au pair for molesting him, and she murdered Delilah and Candace for threatening to expose Joe, when Joe himself couldn't. However, when she does this - and reveals she knew all along that Joe killed Beck, and planted herself to find him - Joe is repulsed by her, and only doesn't kill her because she's pregnant with their baby. They stay together, but Joe is miserable and loathes her.
  • You Can't Fight Fate:
    • Beck is almost killed by an oncoming subway train in the pilot, but she's saved by Joe... who later kills her himself anyway.
    • Candace saves herself from Joe and manages to escape with her life. However, when she captures and tries to get revenge on Joe, Love kills her.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Beck cheats on Joe with her therapist, Dr. Nicky. She denies it, but eventually admits it once Joe finds the evidence.
    • Not long after their break-up, Joe starts cheating on new girlfriend Karen with Beck.

What if you're not the one? No, now is not the time to abandon principles. I have to believe love conquers all. And if you love me, it's only a matter of time...
Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report