Follow TV Tropes

Following

Series / You

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/you_7.png
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, which will adapt its 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.
  • Adaptational Dye Job: Beck has brown hair in the book, but she's a blonde in the series.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Two examples:
    • 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.
    • Advertisement:
    • 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.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Gender-switched, but 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. 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.
  • Aerith and Bob: There are characters such as Joe, Benji and Roger alongside Guinevere, Annika and Peach.
  • 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.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Joe kills Ron in episode 10, right before the man can assault Paco for standing up to him. Absolutely nobody notices he's gone, and nobody cares.
    • Peach also counts, if only because she - like Joe - wants to own and control Beck completely out of a twisted 'love'.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: While most of Joe's violent behavior is premeditated, he also has serious impulse control problems, such as being unable to resist stealing one of Peach's books (even though Peach had just seen him reading it and was certain to suspect him of taking it).
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Joe kills Beck and ultimately gets away with it.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Boggles the Mind: Beck and Joe play Scrabble covered in romance / love-themed words.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Peach appears to be bi as she's obsessively attracted by Beck, seeking to manipulate her. She also willingly has sex later with Raj, though it's clear that she was hoping to have sex with Beck (or at least a threeway). Peach is in the closet about it because her family wouldn't be accepting, and this possibly drives part of her negative behavior.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Downer Ending: Season One ends with most of the main cast dead because of Joe, who isn't punished for his actions at all.
  • 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: Both Joe and Beck.
  • 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.
  • 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”.
  • Frame-Up: Dr. Nicky is arrested at the end of season one 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Good Bad Girl: Beck is a sweet and friendly person who is not shy about casual sex. Even her best friends jokingly describe her as "mildly slutty".
  • Gut Punch: 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.
  • Hope Spot: In the final confrontation, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.”
  • 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.
  • Last-Name Basis: Beck is actually her last name, but everybody refers to her as such.
  • 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. 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Mad Love: Joe towards Beck, which quickly gets out of hand after they start dating.
  • One Mario Limit: Joe notes how Beck's full name isn't very common, which made it very easy to track her down on the Internet.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Joe sees Beck this way, but she's not actually a straight example of the trope.
  • Misogyny: It's made very clear that Joe doesn't respect women who aren't Beck very much, but even then, he still shows some contempt for her more feminine personality traits and lifestyle choices. Ironically, he describes himself as the most "feminist" among her circle due to disapproving of certain things they do.
  • 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.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Joe feels this way about anyone who comes between him and Beck.
  • 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: Joe kills Peach and sets it up to appear like a suicide. This is helped due to her having attempted suicide in the past.
  • New Media Are Evil: Joe's view of social media, even as he exploits it for his gain.
  • Not His Sled:
    • Joe hits Peach on the head with rock while she is out for a run, just like in the novel. However, instead of killing her, the episode ends with the revelation that she is still alive. Instead she dies at the end of the next episode, under different circumstances.
    • The novel makes it very clear that Joe killed Candace. The series tries to imply the same thing without actually showing the moment she died, only for her to show up alive at the very end.
  • 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 the final episode.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Psychotic Love Triangle: Joe and Peach are in one with Beck, as both of them are obsessed with her and want her to themselves.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sherlock Scan: Joe is shown to be very perceptive, perhaps to a fault.
  • Shout-Out: Beck's Twitter handle is @BeckdelTest.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Emphasized by Beck, where she goes viral after Peach's death.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Joe perceives Benji as being this way, derisively noting his penchant for posting about social causes like #BlackLivesMatter to a performative degree.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The final scene implies that this is the case for Candace, who is drowned in the book.
  • 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.
  • The Stoner: Nicky is this here, unlike the book.
  • 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.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Paco, who inadvertently reveals to Beck that Joe told him that the best place to hide things is in the tiles above the toilet, due to how the building is laid out. This ignites Beck's curiosity, which leads to her finding the evidence of Joe's murders and obsessive behavior just as Joe returns to the apartment. Ultimately, this leads to her imprisonment and murder.
  • Villain Protagonist: The show is very much told from Joe's perspective, and his actions in stalking Beck drive the story.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Top

Example of:

/

Feedback