Why Lifetime's Thriller You Should Be Everyone's New TV Obsession

You Joe Goldberg Penn Badgley Lifetime
(Image credit: Lifetime)

If there is one new television show that deserves your obsessive attention this fall, YOU on Lifetime has to be it. Based on Caroline Kepnes' novel of the same name, YOU follows Joe (Penn Badgley), a seemingly sweet and undeniably brilliant guy with a dark side. Joe works at a bookshop and that is where he meets sunny heroine, Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail). Joe is smitten with her at first sight. Unfortunately, it does not stop there. So, why should you watch? These are the reasons why.

(Image credit: Lifetime)

It's Like Three Thrillers Combined in One

While there are quite a few thrillers on television, there is something that sets YOU apart from all of them. It tackles some of people's greatest fears by taking a deep dive right into the mind that creates them. YOU pulls back the curtain while kicking the suspense up a notch each episode, all without losing a moment to ratchet up the stakes. In the first two episodes, what you think could be a slow build towards Joe's endgame is disrupted immediately.

Although his strategy may be a secret to the rest of the world, viewers are given the inside track. That is not to say that Joe discloses everything because there are moments that will take your breath away. Equipped with a non-stop stream of surprising twists and turns, YOU goes for the jugular without so much as batting a figurative eyelash. And that makes the thrills all the more chilling.

You Guinevere Beck Elizabeth Lail Joe Penn Badgley

(Image credit: Lifetime)

It's Tailor-Made For A Hardcore Fanbase

YOU has all of the components necessary to launch a rabid audience that speculates on every upcoming twist. There is room to theorize about Joe's past and consider his next move. Following Episode 1, the thriller thrusts viewers into a significant cliffhanger, which it then builds upon with another shocker in Episode 2. Television fans who miss the character-driven depth provided by Bates Motel and the dramatic twists supplied by Gossip Girl have no shortage of things to enjoy from the new series.

There is a lot to relate to for those watching, as YOU takes a long, hard look at popular culture. The show takes on social media and the modern dating scene, among other hard-hitting topics. And it does so by weaving it into a story that seizes upon dialogue that packs a punch.

You Guinevere Beck Elizabeth Lail

(Image credit: Lifetime)

It Has A Binge-worthy Story In A Weekly Package

Binge-worthy television does not always have binge-worthy episodes. In its early run, YOU has made a strong case for being a show that begs to be marathon-watched. The thing is that only having the show available to watch weekly gives viewers the chance to break down those nail-biting cliffhangers over the course of the week. A story very much anchored in books, it is no wonder that YOU is such a TV version of a page-turner.

It will be interesting to see if the show can maintain its breakneck pace throughout its entire eight-episode run, but its first two episodes have made the case that the drama does not intend to waste any time. YOU clearly has faith in how far its content can go, so there have been no signs of stalling with scenes one would consider filler.

YOU Penn Badgley Joe Lifetime

(Image credit: Lifetime)

The Cast Is A Blast

Without the ensemble YOU has assembled, it is hard to imagine the show hitting with the unbridled verve that it does. As Joe, Penn Badgley gets the opportunity to swing for fences; he was never given the chance to do so on Gossip Girl. In a single scene, he takes viewers from one Joe to another.

Even as viewers are transported into every eerie corner of Joe's mind by way of an intricately scripted and amazingly well-executed narration by Badgley, the actor shows his ability to wear multiple hats. That is because what Badgley's Joe says with his biting line delivery and how he expresses it are two different things.

As Beck, Elizabeth Lail brings the aspiring writer to memorable life. And as she did on Once Upon a Time as Frozen's Anna, Lail imbues Beck with an underlying sincerity that makes her easy to like, which is a must because caring about what will become of Beck and making her feel like a real person in a narrative so heavily influenced by Joe is essential in driving the story forward.

Seeing what material Pretty Little Liars' Shay Mitchell gets to tackle as the show progresses brings about its own range of excitement. So far, the actress has been terrific as Beck's wealthy best friend, Peach Salinger, whose suspicions about Joe are bound to be a powder keg ready to blow.

If this has convinced you to check out the thriller, you can catch new episodes of YOU when they air Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Lifetime, along with other series coming this fall. Before you worry about investing in a series that may only last a season, there is good news. YOU has already been renewed for a second season.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.