Adapted from a novel by Caroline Kepnes with the same name, “You” is one of the most intriguing and compelling web series which has become a phenomenon when it comes to the thriller genre. Season 1 of “You” starts with an introduction to the protagonist Joe Goldberg, played by Penn Badgley, as an ordinary man, a bookstore manager in New York City who becomes obsessed with an aspiring writer Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) and begins stalking and manipulating her to develop a relationship with her. When Joe first meets Beck, it is a creepy love at first sight. He fantasizes about being in a relationship with her and justifies all of the horrific things he will eventually do for Love as necessary.
The inquisitive mind of Joe makes him break into Beck’s apartment to snoop around and learn more things about her and follow her throughout her day to keep tabs on her. When a drunken Beck falls onto a subway track, it is Joe who is miraculously there to save her. He even steals her phone so that he can monitor her conversations once she gets a new one. The only obstacle that is restricting Joe from winning Beck’s heart is Benji, an arrogant man who happens to have a complicated relationship with Beck. Benji becomes a roadblock, so Joe attacks him and locks him in a book vault in his bookstore’s basement. Eventually, Joe realizes there is no other way out of this situation and kills Benji in a brutal way. He covers up the gruesome murder by burning Benji’s body and making it appear that Benji has simply run off. Following Benji’s murder, Joe and Beck enter into a relationship, but another obstacle emerges as Beck’s best friend, Peach, is suspicious of Joe and similarly obsessed with Beck.
A jealous Joe hits Peach on the head with a rock and leaves her for dead, but unfortunately, Peach survives the attack and becomes even more suspicious of Joe. Peach then invites Beck to her family estate for a getaway with plans to whisk Beck off to live together in Paris. Beck refuses the offer and realizes that Joe was actually correct about Peach’s manipulative nature and leaves the estate. The situation gets worse as Peach finds Joe in her estate only to get killed by him, but Joe again finds a way and frames the murder as a suicide due to heartbreak. With Peach now out of the picture, Joe and Beck are finally free to be together with no more distractions! And that lasts for a few months. Beck grows secretive and distant, which eventually fuels Joe to get more possessive and creepy at times. Joe begins to suspect that Beck is cheating on him with her therapist Dr. Nicky (John Stamos), and for that reason, Joe starts to take therapy from him using an alias to assess the situation.
The tension between Joe and Beck starts to escalate, and Joe confronts Beck about her relationship with Dr Nicky, but Beck becomes very upset and breaks up with him. Three months pass, and Joe is doing his best to move on. Throughout the season, he looked after Paco, his drug addict neighbor Claudia’s son. Claudia’s boyfriend is an abusive parole officer named Ron, who is constantly picking fights with Paco, Claudia, and Joe. The situation changes when Joe enters into a relationship with Karen, Claudia’s friend, and the two help Claudia get clean. Joe tries to convince himself that Karen is right for him, but he can’t seem to get over Beck. Similarly, Beck isn’t over with Joe either, so Joe breaks up with Karen and reunites with Beck, making them seem stronger than ever. But when a spiteful Karen tells Beck that Joe will always be pining for his ex, Beck begins to dig deep into Joe’s past relationship with the mysterious Candace (Ambyr Childers). Beck discovers that Joe was indeed in a relationship with Candace, and they were seemingly very happy with each other, but somehow Candace went totally off the grid following their breakup and hasn’t contacted her family or friends in years.
The rising tension makes Beck realize there is something sinister at play with Joe, and she should be concerned. Joe has previously killed a man named Elijah after discovering Candace was having an affair with him. Mr. Mooney (Mark Blum), the owner of the bookstore Joe managed and a father figure that mentally abused him as a child, helped Joe to cover up Elijah’s death. Although Joe is able to come up with an explanation for Candace’s disappearance, all of his dark secrets are revealed as Beck discovers a hidden box in Joe’s apartment filled with mementos of all his previous crimes. Beck finds her old phone, Peach’s Phone, Benji’s phone, and even Benji’s teeth. Beck gets shell-shocked when she discovers Joe’s horrific true identity, but unfortunately, Joe understands the whole situation, and he is left with no choice but to lock Beck up in his book vault until he can figure out a way to make their relationship work again.
A series of unfortunate events occur as Claudia gets admitted to a hospital after getting physically assaulted by her boyfriend, Ron. Joe confronts and kills Ron in front of Paco to protect him and tells him what must be done and how they are going to cover up the murder. Beck, on the other side, is scared and writes a story using a typewriter, detailing all the horrific crimes but attributing them to Dr. Nicky instead, and convinces Joe to frame Dr. Nicky for all the murders. Cleverly, Beck convinces Joe that she now understands why Joe did what he did and tells Joe that she still loves him. She lures Joe into the vault and locks him inside. But her escape plan is thwarted when she discovers the basement door is also locked, and a loyal Paco refuses to help her. Eventually, Joe gets out of the vault using a spare key and finally kills Beck. Four months later, the book Beck wrote in the vault is now a huge success. The book also leads to the arrest of a framed Dr. Nicky, inadvertently exonerating Joe. But just as it looks like Joe will be able to get away with all of his crimes, his ex-girlfriend Candace shows up in the bookstore, very much alive and indicating there is some unfinished business she needs to take care of.
Season 2 of ‘YOU’ starts with the truth about Joe’s past relationship with his ex, Candace. After getting into a fight upon discovering that Candace is having an affair, Joe accidentally bludgeons Candace’s head. Thinking he killed her, Joe buries Candace’s body and flees. It turns out Candace wasn’t dead and wakes up after having been buried alive by Joe. Candace goes to the police station, but the police refuse to believe her story due to a lack of evidence. Now, Candace is back with the intention of getting her own justice by making sure Joe’s life gets miserable and stopping him from ever hurting another woman.
With Candace now in the picture, Joe flees New York City to hide out in Los Angeles. He locks up professional identity forger Will Bettelheim (Robin Lord Taylor) in a newly built giant vault and assumes his identity, then quickly secures himself a new apartment and a new job working in the book section of a trendy grocery store called ‘Anavrin.’ Proving to himself that he is now a better and changed man, Joe eventually releases the real Will Bettelheim from the book vault after he promises that he will stay quiet. Joe then finds a new object of his desire, Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti), a widow from the wealthy family that owns ‘Anavrin.’
Unlike Beck, Love is quickly all in on her relationship with Joe right from the beginning, and it is Joe who is hesitant to pursue a relationship due to fearing it will lead Love to the same fate as Beck. But Joe eventually succumbs to his desires and engages in a relationship with Love. The whole scenario takes an interesting turn when Love’s twin brother Forty (James Scully) starts dating a woman named Amy, who is none other than Joe’s ex-girlfriend Candace. The cat-and-mouse chase begins with the growing tension between the pair as Candace gets close to Love and warns her about Joe’s violent nature. But unfortunately, Love believes Joe when he claims that Candace is just a crazy, spiteful ex-girlfriend. Meanwhile, Joe also develops a friendship with his new teenage neighbor, Ellie (Jenna Ortega). When Ellie lands an internship with famous comedian Henderson, Ellie’s elder sister Delilah (Carmela Zumbado) confides in Joe that Henderson has a history of sexually assaulting minors, including herself, when she was younger. Joe then goes into his vengeful protector mode, confronting Henderson about his history of abuse. This confrontation ends with Joe accidentally pushing Henderson down a flight of stairs which eventually kills him, leading to yet another murder for Joe to cover up.
Although the police determine that Henderson killed himself, Delilah’s cop friend with benefits, Fincher starts looking more into the case and begins to suspect Joe. This prompts Delilah to search Joe’s apartment for evidence, which prompts Joe to lock Delilah up in his book vault. Joe does not want to kill Delilah and leave Ellie all alone in the world, so he plans to release her and flee the country, leaving behind Love. But when Joe goes to the book vault the next morning, he finds that Delilah has been murdered. Candace arrives and locks Joe inside, then calls Love to the scene so that she can prove once and for all that Joe is a murderer and a twisted, violent man. Candace’s plan surprisingly backfires, and a plot twist emerges as Love murders her and confesses to Joe that she had also killed Delilah so that Joe’s secret is safe and he would not need to run away without her. Then Love reveals that she had killed her and Forty’s au pair, too, when they were children and that all season long, she has been manipulating Joe to make him fall in love with her, the same way he did to Beck in Season 1. This shatters the image of Love, and Joe even debates killing her, but Love reveals that she is pregnant, so Joe decides to try loving Love again so he can be with his baby.
Although Love can forgive Joe of his past crimes, her twin brother Forty cannot. Confronting the two of them and holding Joe at gunpoint makes the situation very tense, but when Forty tries to pull the trigger, officer Fincher arrives at the scene and shoots Forty, which eventually kills him. The murders of Henderson and Candace are then pinned on Forty, and the Quinn family helps to cover up the crimes. Joe then gives the newly orphaned Ellie a stack of cash and promises to continue sending money as she runs off to start a new life. Now that all of his roadblocks and issues are resolved, Joe is free to be with Love, moving into a nice suburban house together in which they could raise their baby. But finding out Love is indeed a murderer is not something Joe can move past so easily, even when he himself is a cold-blooded murderer. Joe then sets his sight on his next object of desire, his new next-door neighbor, and season 2 comes to an end.
In Season 3 of ‘YOU,’ Joe and Love attempt to live in peaceful bliss in Madre Linda suburbs, but things quickly begin to unravel. Joe becomes obsessed with his new neighbor Natalie Engler (Michaela McManus), and loses interest in both his wife, Love, and their newborn child Henry. When Love discovers Joe’s latest Obsession, she murders Natalie. After helping Love dispose of Natalie’s body, Joe and his wife attempt to cover up Natalie’s death while also ingratiating themselves into their new community. Joe is hired by a local librarian named Marienne (Tati Gabrielle) to restore rare books leading to her becoming Joe’s newest Obsession. When Joe discovers that Marianne’s ex-husband Ryan was playing dirty to win custody of the couple’s young child, he begins stalking him to figure out a way to help his new Love. Eventually, Ryan catches Joe stalking him, forcing Joe to commit yet another gruesome murder. Meanwhile, Love opens her own bakery and builds a new Plexiglas vault in its basement after discovering a local anti-vax man named Gil had inadvertently caused Henry to catch the measles. Love frames him for Natalie’s murder; Love also befriends local mom influencer Sherry Conrad (Shalita Grant), who proposes that she and her husband, Cary Conrad (Travis Van Winkle), will enter into a swinging relationship with Love and Joe.
After getting the proposal, Joe looks for a way to end his marriage and agrees to the proposition; as Joe and Love continue their new sexual exploits with the Conrads, they accidentally expose their involvement in Natalie’s murder. Joe and Love are forced to subdue the Conrads and lock them in the plexiglass vault. As Love feels Joe pulling away to focus on his new obsession, she begins a new relationship of her own. Love meets and quickly becomes romantic with a young college student named Theo (Dylan Arnold). Love soon discovers that Theo is, in fact, the stepson of Matthew Engler, husband of the murdered Natalie. Theo confides in Love that Matthew is skeptical that Gil is the real murderer and begins illegally surveilling the residents of Madre Linda. Although Matthew eventually gives up on his search, Theo does see video footage of Joe driving Natalie’s car and races to the bakery to warn Love of her husband’s crime.
At the bakery, Theo discovers the imprisoned Conrads, forcing Love to knock him out, although Joe does rescue him and bring him to the hospital. Love finally confronts Joe about his new obsession with Marienne, prompting Joe to ask for a divorce. Devastated by her husband’s actions, Love paralyzes him with a drug known as aconite and then calls Marienne to their home, where she reveals to the librarian that Joe is a violent man who had murdered Ryan. After Marienne flees, Love attempts to kill her husband for his betrayal. Instead, Joe reveals that he has taken an antidote and then murders Love. Joe then frames Love for all the Madre Linda deaths, cuts his toe’s fingers to fake his own death, and burns down their home. As the season comes to a close, Sherry and Carry escape the vault, their marriage stronger than ever, the estranged Matthew and Theo reconcile, and Joe leaves his son Henry in the care of his co-worker, Dante, before heading to Paris, France in search of Marienne.
The three seasons of ‘YOU’ show different aspects of Love, possessiveness, obsession, anger, brutality, gruesome murders, and twisted thoughts of Joe Goldberg, and now that season 4 is in the picture, it would be very interesting to witness what Joe Goldberg does in this new season.