A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that You is a series about a charming and violent young man who stalks young women. Social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, are used to help him. There's lots of cursing including "d--k," "bitch," "bastard, "a--hole," "s--t," and "f--k." The series features many sexual situations, including skin-revealing simulated sex acts (but no frontal nudity). Aside from the systematic stalking, it also addresses domestic abuse and murder. Violent, bloody attacks with things like hammers are sometimes visible, as are gruesome injuries on bloody corpses.
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What's the story?
Originally based on a book of the same name, YOU is a thriller about a young man who uses the internet to stalk his female victim, and how his life unfolds as a result. New York City book store manager Joe Goldberg (Gossip Girl's Penn Badgley) is known by his co-worker Ethan (Zach Cherry) as a quiet guy, and by his troubled young neighbor Paco as a friend and hero. But when he meets and charms Guinevere (Elizabeth Lail), who goes by "Beck," a graduate poetry student and avid social media user, he reveals his darker side. Armed with Beck's full name, Joe uses the internet to get information about her, and follows her to work, school, events with friends like Peach (Shay Mitchell), and home, all in hopes of being able to charm and protect her when they are eventually together. As Joe's voyeuristic behavior grows more intrusive and violent, he looks for ways to get closer to Beck, and to eliminate the people from her life that potentially stand in his way.
Is it any good?
This dark and disturbing drama is uniquely told from the point of view of a smart young man obsessed with a woman he barely knows and begins to stalk. Joe's inner monologue allows viewers to listen to the way he makes sense of his irrational feelings, and how he's unable to see in himself the violent, abusive characteristics that he loathes in other men. They also get to see how his sexual fantasies are driving him, and how easily social media aids him in his efforts. As he manages to justify his actions to himself, he reveals a familiarity with the process that makes you suspect that he's done this before. In later seasons, as he interacts with individuals like Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti), his behavior is even more bewildering.
While You offers some suspense, it also offers a distorted way of looking at Joe's criminal behavior. He's characterized as a likable man motivated by a desire to be loved. His inner banter is filled with one-liners and quips, and some of the charmingly awkward exchanges during his planned "accidental" meetings with the women he is obsessed with create some lighthearted but alarming moments. This makes it easier for viewers to see Joe's actions as OK while still finding themselves horrified about the violent acts he commits. Some may look past this for entertainment's sake, but it's also easy to point to the series as an example of how violence, particularly against women, can be minimized by the media.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about stalking. Did you know that stalking people online and in real time is a crime? Does You glorify this kind of behavior? How can parents help kids understand how to behave safely online, and how to deal with it when others do not?
You highlights some of the mistakes people make sharing information online. What are some ways you should protect yourself?
What is the appeal of showing bloody, violent images and behavior in a TV series or movie? Is it possible to tell this story without being so graphic?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love dark drama
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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