YOU

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
YOU TV Poster Image
Thriller explores stalking, social media from stalker's POV.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

In some ways it's presented as modern romantic thriller, but ultimately this is a story about a violent stalker hurting a woman (and others along the way).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Joe is a violent stalker. Beck does not protect her identity online.

Violence

Scenes include a bloody attack with a hammer, a kidnapping, and other events.

Sex

Lots of sexual moments, including crude references and simulated sexual acts.

Language

"C--p," "dick," "bitch," "bastard, "a--hole," "s--t," "f--k."

Consumerism

Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, etc. are featured.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine, champagne, cocktails at social events. Cigarette smoking and vaping visible. References to using cocaine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that YOU is a series about a charming and violent young man who stalks a young woman. He uses social media, like Facebook and Instagram, to help him. There’s lots of cursing (only some of which is bleeped), including "c--p," "dick," "bitch," "bastard, "a--hole," "s--t," and "f--k." The series features many sexual situations, including simulated sex acts showing skin (but no nudity). Aside from the systematic stalking, it also addresses domestic abuse, and violence includes bloody attacks with weapons like hammers.

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What's the story?

Based on the book of the same name, YOU is a thriller about a young man who uses the internet to stalk his female victim. 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 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 also driving him. Throughout it all, Joe reveals how easily he uses the internet, especially social media, to aid 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.

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 Beck create some lighthearted but alarming moments. This makes it easier for viewers to see Joe's actions as okay, while still finding themselves horrified about the violent acts he commits towards others. 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 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? How common is this kind of behavior, and how can parents help kids understand how to deal with it?

  • YOU highlights some of the mistakes people make sharing information online. What are some ways you can protect yourself on social media? What are some of the things you should share online? Who should you allow to access your information?

TV details

For kids who love dark drama

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