Release Date: Sept. 9, 2018
Genre: Crime, drama, romance
In an age of reality TV such as "Love Island" and "The Bachelor" or critically acclaimed HBO shows such as "Big Little Lies" and "Euphoria," romance is as abundantly popular as it always has been. If these categories of shows are polar ends of this broad category, the Netflix original "You" is worth noting along the middle of the spectrum.
The show "You" is much more than the mainstream romance in the trailers Netflix forces upon its indecisive audience. Debatable melodrama aside, the story of Joe Goldberg, a murdering stalker bibliophile with a heart of gold, builds a complex and thought-provoking story of love and moral contradiction in modern society.
Ignoring contemporary moral arguments, the story is actually philosophically deep and emotionally challenging for the audience. Ultimately, it interplays very real and common ideas of love and the challenges of romance in today's world of Tinder and online messaging. It uses this entertaining melodrama to arouse fairly identifiable, common attributes of life and personality archetypes and deals with them in modern-day society.
The show does a fantastic job of building lovable and self-identifiable characters through the constant interwoven narration of Joe, which makes it almost similar to reading. First-person perspective aside, the show is obviously in touch with its audience, from its heavy reliance on mainstream references to its correct usage of things such as social media and zeitgeists of the 21st century.
The dialogue and writing, though at times predictable or facing the identifiable pitfalls of a romance story, is intelligent and manages to juggle making very underground literary references while still deftly navigating social media slang and texting. Joe’s constant monologue is both tongue-in-cheek and plot-progressive, which helps keep the story from becoming episodically bland.
For a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, it quickly loses the initial impression of a cheesy story of a half-hearted, morally challenging "Romeo and Juliet." The acting remains compelling and generally believable, with the cast being full of relatively well-known B-list actors and Netflix regulars. The familiar New York setting is romantic to non-New Yorkers and relatable to natives. Although it rarely falls for romantic tropes, there are occasionally the inevitable flaws of acting or lines that earn a smile for cheesiness, but the case is the same with life.
The second season is just as good, successfully continuing the story and building new challenges and thought-provoking ethics. The different setting of Los Angeles and the new characters refreshes the story and builds upon the relatability and sentiment of the story.
All of this is portrayed with original and stylistic traits, such as the scenes' coloring and focus on the drama through the constant face shots or eerie angles and characteristics. Overlaying dialogue and texting bubbles or scenes aligned emotionally with great music from The National to Louis Armstrong, the show is simply excellent entertainment with surprisingly pertinent and well done thematic provocation.