You | adaptation review

You

Series: S1
Release Date: 2018
Network: Lifetime, Netflix
Adapted From: You

When a beautiful woman wanders into the bookstore where Joe works, he is immediately obsessed with her. He must know who she is. After Googling the name on her credit card, he’s in luck: only 1 Guinevere Beck shows up in NYC. Even better, Beck (as her friends call her) has a public Facebook page and a ridiculously active Twitter account. She’s an over-sharer, making Joe’s mission a piece of cake: insert himself into Beck’s life, make her fall in love with him, and remove any obstacles that may get in the way of those two things. Even if that means killing someone.


As usual, I read You after seeing all the hype for the adaptation, a series on Netflix originally produced by Lifetime. Though the book and show have very different feels to them, they are both amazing in their own ways, and I enjoyed experiencing them both.

Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg

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Apparently, many people already knew Penn Badgley from Gossip Girl, a show I never watched nor was ever interested in. So, for me, he was new. I liked his look—the cute, innocent-looking bookseller. That hair… Badgley was a perfect unsuspecting Joe. I loved his sarcastic voice and hopeful eyes. He did a really, really good job.

Elizabeth Lail as Guinevere Beck

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Elizabeth Lail is a lesser-known actor, but she was just as stunning as Badgley. She was exactly how I pictured Beck. Like, spot-on amazing. Not to mention she’s absolutely gorgeous. And her chemistry with Badgley was perfect.

I was also pleased to see John Stamos as Dr. Nicky, and Shay Mitchell as Peach Sallinger (though I more pictured her like Jameela Jamil while reading the book). Everyone was cast fairly well, to be honest. The show could have easily felt cheesy depending on the actors, but luckily it had the right kind of atmosphere.

There were tons of little changes and differences in the show from the book, things that I didn’t necessarily care about because it seemed right for the show. For one thing, Beck was a lot smarter and suspicious in the show, which made for a good dynamic with Joe and added more suspense. Though my dislike for Beck continued from the book into the show, she had a couple more redeeming qualities. We also got to “see” more from her perspective, rather than just seeing Beck in the eyes of Joe. The show is narrated by Joe, but in some episodes we actually get Beck’s monologue, so that was an interesting twist.

Because Beck is smarter and thinks something’s up with Joe, she actually catches him stalking her twice, whereas in the book that never happens. Well, okay—at the end of the book, she admits to seeing Joe at the bar that very first night, but I don’t think she really thought he was stalking her. In the show, she catches him at both the Dickens festival and in the park. But I didn’t mind. Those changes actually caught me off guard and made sense for the show.

What didn’t make sense was the big change to Joe’s character. In the book, though Joe is somehow likable despite being a serial killer, the show actually makes him likable. Let me explain: in the book, Joe has no remorse for killing anyone—he doesn’t care; it’s not difficult for him to kill someone. In the show, Joe is…humanized. He is a sympathetic character who gets squeamish at Benji’s dead body, and multiple times narrates that he doesn’t want to do this, he just has to, to “protect” Beck. We also get flashbacks of Joe’s childhood with Mr. Mooney, who tells Joe “some people deserve to die,” giving Joe almost an excuse to kill people, a reason why he’s so fucked up. Again, there’s that sympathy…

This humanizing of Joe is even more perpetuated by the inclusion of a child neighbor named Paco. Paco’s mom is a drug addict and dates an abusive man. Joe constantly takes care of Paco and helps him out, even when doing so puts Joe himself in danger. He’s a good guy. He’s sympathetic. He’s not your typical serial killer. That kind of stuff kinda shows through in the book version of Joe, but it’s really accentuated in the show. I’m not necessarily for or against this portrayal, I just thought it was an interesting change.

After E7, the show beings to drastically stray from the book. I honestly had no idea where the show was going, and I wasn’t necessarily a fan of this. Some of the changes were weird and didn’t make sense; others felt like the writers were just trying to add more, more, more to the tail-end of the season. I don’t know. The worst change, though, was the very last scene. After Joe kills Beck and frames the murder on Dr. Nicky (something I thought was deviating from the book but is actually what happens once you start the sequel to the book), Amy does not show up in the bookstore. Instead, guess who Joe finds?

Candace.

Yup, Joe’s supposed-to-be-dead ex-girlfriend. Why? How? For what? I guess we’ll find out in the sequel, which is in production right now. But having read the sequel myself, I can definitively tell you this is not the plot of book 2. Not at all. Candace is really dead in the books. So why bring her back instead of introduce Amy, the entire reason for Joe’s adventures in book 2? I don’t know. I was really confused by this.

I’m not sure where they’ll take S2, but despite all the changes (both good and bad), I really did like S1. The story really translated well onto the screen, and I’m happy it was so successful they’re continuing it. I look forward to S2 to see how they plan on adapting the sequel.

The book was an excellent thriller, better than most I’ve read of late, and the show was really captivating, so I definitely recommend you watch it. I’m having a tough time deciding which I liked better—the book or the show—because they felt almost separate to me by the end of the show, but I have to say…

Book or Show?

2 thoughts on “You | adaptation review

    1. Yes, it is weird that they chose such a different ending, but I’m hoping S2 at least kind of stays true to the sequel. If not, though, that’s OK—both the books and show are really good in their own ways!

      Liked by 1 person

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