Penn Badgley Stars in Lifetime’s Dark and Sexy Thriller ‘You’

©2018 Courtesy of Lifetime

You

Lifetime

Premieres: Sept. 9

Airs: Sundays at 10pm

Who’s In It? Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail, Shay Mitchell, John Stamos

What’s It All About? Former Gossip Girl lead Badgley stars in this dark and sexy thriller as Joe, a bookstore employee who is on a quest for love and is willing to sink to incredible lows to get it. After a chance encounter with Beck (Lail), a struggling writer who goes by her surname, he uses his keen sense of observation, Google and his uncanny power of nefarious intervention to gain control of Beck’s life and weave himself into it.

The series is based on the wildly popular bestseller by Caroline Kepnes and can be likened to Dexter meets Gone Girl meets The Talented Mr. Ripley meets American Psycho. It’s also a biting social satire of the selfie-obsessed, “look at me, warts and all” generation, where the warts are perfectly lit and seen through a rose-colored filter.

The psychological series taps into when infatuation turns to obsession, and the fun in You comes from watching the relationship between Joe and Beck as it travels from a meet-cute to something much, much darker. “You see a person who maybe for the first 30 percent of his endeavor is kind of doing what everyone else is doing in a romantic comedy, but then he’s just following it through. He’s not saved by his boyish charm in the end. He’s complete victim to his maniacal obsession,” Badgley shares. “What ends up being captivating for people is seeing how initially they can relate and then seeing at what point has Joe crossed a line that we wouldn’t.”

Joe is horrible, and horribly likable, but Badgley reveals that while he loves Kepnes’ writing, he wasn’t sure he wanted to take on the role of the gentleman stalker. “There’s a lot that is extremely disturbing,” he reveals, “to the point that I was really conflicted and will always remain conflicted about playing him.” And while the actor doesn’t offer an excuse for the many nefarious things that happen at the hands of his character, he does suggest an explanation. “I think the kind of ‘love’ we find described in pop songs throughout the decades,” he says, “from Bob Dylan to Drake, we have mostly men singing about women whom they think they love, but ultimately treat more like possessions and objects. Joe’s fault is his own, but it’s also the world he’s grown up in, and a world that has raised him.”

Lifetime has already picked up the series for a second season, which will continue Joe’s story as he heads from New York to Los Angeles and will be based on Kepnes’ equally dark sequel, Hidden Bodies.