You is complicated and contradictory. Based on the Caroline Kepnes novel of the same name, You is a show that started on Lifetime, but was quickly nabbed by Netflix, which is where its found most of its success. It’s a show where its leading man is dangerously charming, but also completely unforgivable in his actions. It’s a show where every character kind of sucks, the good guys are bad guys are good guys (and vice versa), and there are at least a handful of plot devices and character attributes that don’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense within the universe of the show (the question of Manhattan real estate affordability comes to mind), but it is so intriguing, almost always ends each episode with a cliff hanger, and makes for irresistible television.
The protagonist (or is he?) of You is your average Joe (his name really is Joe) played by Penn Badgley. Joe is a bashful bookseller who finds himself falling for a creative writing grad student customer named Guinevere Beck (but she goes by Beck because she feels that her name is too pretentious) after a meet-cute in the bookstore. Viewers might be expecting the typical rom-com formula, or a contemporary meditation on the successes and pitfalls of relationships in the digital era, but quickly learn that Joe has a propensity for flat-out stalking his crushes.
Beck and her gaggle of Ivy League gal pals (played by Shay Mitchell, Kathryn Gallagher, and Nicole Kang) irritate Joe to no end. He constantly berates them in his head for their taste (or lack thereof, according to him) in guys, books, and extracurricular activities. But he loves Beck, so much that he thinks he is the only one for her and (spoiler alert) murders her boyfriend after keeping tabs on every single element of her life. He also has his occasional good side—he cares for a neighboring kid, knows that his cyberstalking behavior is wrong.
The show has been heralded as addictive and binge-worthy, which it is. In fact, You works much better as a weekend binge rather than a week-to-week serial that requires you to repeatedly jog your memory of which horrors transpired in the previous episode, which makes a Netflix aggregation of this Lifetime series all the more fitting. But You has also been chastised for its problematic nature, especially when it comes to its depiction of torture and murder. Many viewers are finding themselves attracted to Joe, but Badgley is not having it. The actor has been replying to fans on Twitter whenever they question their morals for being attracted to a murderous bookseller, reminding them that Joe’s behavior is “toxic” to say the least.
If you were late to the game, and only came to You after it premiered on Netflix, that’s okay. Thanks to the streaming platform, the show pulled in so many viewers and has garnered enough attention from fans online that it seems to be all anyone can talk about. The season one finale did end with a major cliffhanger, prompting viewers to either re-watch from the beginning or get on Twitter and talk about how much they can’t believe they fell for a highfalutin murderer just because he was hot. You was renewed for a second season before Netflix even began to stream it the day after Christmas last year, and the first season of the series just goes to show that the second one will probably get even darker. Until then, if you’re looking for another binge that reminds you of You—the quippy internal monologues, protagonists you know you shouldn’t root for but still do, mystery, murder, romance—these are the seven shows you should watch.
It’s not too difficult to connect the dots here. Penn Badgley plays a tragically pretentious, dastardly smart stalker on the Upper East Side in both of these shows. Besides, who doesn’t miss the days when you didn’t know who Gossip Girl was?
Pretty Little Liars
Again, this is a no-brainer. Pretty Little Liars is similar to You in that you’re never quite sure who to trust, there’s a lot of stalking, and Shay Mitchell is involved (and plays one of the best characters on both). Friends sharing secrets, missing bodies, people lying about who they are and where they came from? Sounds a lot like You.
Where to stream: Netflix.
Ask yourself what it is about You that you like so much. Is it the paranoid, brooding man who spends the majority of the episode working on their interior monologue—or dialogue sometimes as well—about how society has failed us all while he commits crimes you can’t necessarily condone? Then the Rami Malek-starring Mr. Robot is something you could probably get into.
Where to stream: Amazon Prime.
Eye Candy is a short-lived MTV series starring Victoria Justice as a private eye who attempts to solve the mystery of a serial killer who murders their victims after sending a post-date text message. The killer becomes obsessed with Lindy Sampson (Justice), but she’s kind of into the idea of going on a date with him (so that she can catch him). Much like You, Eye Candy is a story of cyberstalking gone wrong.
Where to stream: Amazon Prime, or MTV.com with a cable log-in.
Sandrah Oh gives a Golden-Globe winning performance in Killing Eve as Eve Polastri, an intelligence officer tasked with finding Villanelle, an international serial killer, before Villanelle finds her first. In some respects, Eve wants Vilannelle to find her, and on You, part of what makes stalking Beck so titillating for Joe is that he believes she partially wants to be a victim of his voyeurism.
Where to stream: Hulu.
The Best Years
This mostly-forgotten gem from The N is a Canadian drama à la Degrassi. The Best Years follows Samantha Best, a brilliant mind who wins a scholarship to an Ivy League type university, but hides her past from her peers. Just imagine what Beck and her friends were like when they went to Brown, and the types of scandals they were involved in as young adults.
Where to stream: You’ll have to do some sleuthing, but there are full episodes available on YouTube.
This one is just for anyone who is fascinated by stalkers. Dylan McDermott stars as an LAPD officer who uncovers the mystery behind a new stalking case each week. Is Stalker a good show? Jury’s out (there is likely a good reason it only lasted for one season). Is it a binge-able procedural that will scare you to the point where you can’t fall asleep? Probably.
Where to stream: Amazon Prime.
Related: [You, Lifetime’s Latest Show, Is a Deadly Mash-Up of Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Riverdale](https://www.wmagazine.com/story/you-lifetime-trailer)*