'You' brings novel twists to Lifetime's disarming stalker series

Men have been stalking women in Lifetime movies practically from the get-go, but that conceit receives a ver...

Posted: Sep 8, 2018 3:20 PM
Updated: Sep 8, 2018 3:20 PM

Men have been stalking women in Lifetime movies practically from the get-go, but that conceit receives a very contemporary twist in "You," a darkly comic series -- based on Caroline Kepnes' bestselling book -- that comes from super-producer Greg Berlanti. At times creepy, often absurd, it's not necessarily the show for the #MeToo era, but it's certainly a good reminder to go change all your web passwords.

The bizarre hook to "You" comes from its point of view, which follows the whole unfolding girl-meets-stalker relationship from the heavily narrated perspective of the latter, Joe ("Gossip Girl's" Penn Badgley), who first encounters Beck (Elizabeth Lail) in the bookstore where he works. It's obsession at first sight, prompting Joe to consume every social-media clue he can find, before moving on to more invasive forms of electronic snooping, all -- in his twisted mind -- to demonstrate his undying adoration.

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There's an element of "Dexter" in the narration, but in a way "You" owes a sizable debt to "Thief of Hearts," a pretty awful 1980s artifact, in which a high-class thief steals a woman's diary, then uses her innermost thoughts to seduce her. Here, the methods of intrusion involve hacked phones and mouse clicks, but the effect is no less invasive.

What makes "You" a bit different, and compulsively watchable, is the fact Joe is at times less than adept in implementing his various schemes, stumbling into awkward and hard-to-explain situations from which he must extricate himself. The process also includes dealing with an assortment of characters (some malevolent, others simply odd) who are already in Beck's life, who serve as impediments to his pursuit of happily ever after.

Overseen by the aforementioned Berlanti (the CW's go-to whiz kid, responsible for "Riverdale," "The Flash" and "Arrow") and Sera Gamble, "You" receives a significant lift from its clever writing and Badgley's wry, arched-eyebrow delivery. While the focus is on Joe and Beck's iPhone-crossed romance, there are disarmingly funny moments, like the suggestion a downtrodden person has a "Trump just took Pennsylvania" look, or the way one seemingly triumphant moment goes spectacularly awry.

"It's like you've never seen a horror movie," Joe says, speaking to Beck through narration when she stands half-dressed near her window, later responding to her text to a friend by insisting, "I'm not a maybe. I'm the one."

As noted, there's an uncomfortable aspect to the material, given how violated Beck is, whether she realizes it or not. The "dreamy stalker" is a wrinkle we could have probably done without.

Again, though, "You" plays with those edges -- and at least makes them interesting -- by refusing to make Beck a helpless damsel or wholesale victim, at least through the five episodes previewed.

Underneath it all, the series not only explores one particularly misguided mind but the very notion of privacy, and the perils of not safeguarding it in an age where practically everyone seems to be oversharing.

For Lifetime, "You" -- already renewed for a second season -- thus feels like a shrewd evolution of its much-lampooned women-in-jeopardy formula into something more ambitious, wittier, and in its jaundiced way, just a little bit unnerving.

In that, it's a cautionary tale with an unconventional bad guy -- a reminder that you can't always judge a book, or bookstore owner, by its tousled hair and beguiling smile.

"You" premieres Sept. 9 at 10 p.m. on Lifetime.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
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Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
Oktibbeha6964124
Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
Bolivar6115144
Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
Lincoln5303131
George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
Tippah446480
Itawamba4444100
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Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
Wayne433066
Copiah431787
Yazoo423386
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Sunflower4148104
Marion4099104
Leake397586
Coahoma3957100
Newton370875
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Stone350860
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Attala325387
Jasper314162
Winston304691
Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 787421

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1114521765
Mobile708161234
Madison49744633
Baldwin36201495
Shelby36186315
Tuscaloosa33818548
Montgomery33135678
Lee22590220
Calhoun21140410
Morgan19795335
Etowah19188462
Marshall17659274
Houston16788386
St. Clair15408305
Cullman14568258
Limestone14553188
Elmore14444264
Lauderdale13486281
Talladega12932236
DeKalb12174237
Walker10561330
Blount9693157
Autauga9652137
Jackson9363158
Coffee8847175
Dale8584173
Colbert8508184
Tallapoosa6661181
Escambia6585121
Covington6432167
Chilton6372144
Russell605355
Franklin5779101
Chambers5398134
Marion4789120
Dallas4694189
Clarke462279
Pike461597
Geneva4396117
Winston425295
Lawrence4112108
Bibb408581
Barbour346570
Marengo326285
Butler318190
Monroe318153
Randolph305256
Pickens304474
Henry301358
Hale292285
Cherokee289455
Fayette279073
Washington245248
Crenshaw237970
Cleburne235251
Clay228365
Macon219258
Lamar196243
Conecuh181846
Lowndes170758
Coosa169935
Wilcox159736
Bullock149243
Perry136437
Sumter124436
Greene121243
Choctaw73427
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