Illustration by Ben Beechener
Guilty pleasures: we all have them… right? We all have that one show that we keep on returning to, but the moment any of our friends ask us what we’ve been watching recently, we immediately divert the question and start getting defensive, right? I am asking for validation here. I have to believe that’s true, I have to! Because I cannot count the hours I’ve committed to watching the trashiest of trashy tv shows in my quest to fill the trash-shaped hole in my heart. I’ve binged everything from Emily in Paris to Firefly Lane and Insatiable, yet my thirst for trashy fiction remained unquenched. That is until I started watching You in the height of the pandemic, when we all craved a little escapism through our tv shows. With the recent release of season 3, which I devoured in a weekend, and the announcement of season 4, I now have a lot of emotions and a lot to look forward to.
At first, I was a sceptic, I must admit. The premise of the show sounded clichéd and very underwhelming: a book-loving bookseller named Joe falls in love with women way too easily, and the relationships quickly go from 0 to 100 as he becomes a murderous stalker. This sounded a bit too brutal for my fragile sensibilities. With femicide rates being unacceptably high in real life, the premise hit too close to home for my liking. However, and this is a big however, the show never attempts to be realistic. Instead, the characters and plot revel in a self-conscious trashiness that makes them one-dimensional and easy to digest, thereby making my viewing experience of the show completely enjoyable, as I was quickly able to dissociate the show from real life.
Now that we are all filled in on the premise of the show, I have to ask myself, what is it that makes You so addictive? Is it the problematic behaviour of Joe? Is it the annoying habits of his love interests? Is it the completely b-tech disguises he wears to become ‘unrecognisable’? What is it? To be honest with you, I still have no clue. It is all of these things and none of them at the same time. Each component of the show adds to its overall marvelous trashiness, and yet I’m still unable to pinpoint the exact source of its magic. Any way that I approach the show, I realise that I like having it as my guilty little secret. It is so fun having a guilty pleasure, something all to yourself, something that’s just yours.
Oh, You, I wish I knew how to quit you… but for the moment, I’m content spending my afternoons with you rather than writing my essays, so I’m not complaining.