TCA 2018: Lifetime’s ‘You’ is a stalker romance series for the social media age

Penn Badgley participates in Lifetime's "You" panel during the Television Critics Assn. press tour at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Thursday.
(Richard Shotwell / Invision/AP)

What would you do if someone was watching you and you didn’t know it?

That’s the premise behind an upcoming Lifetime stalker romance series, “You.” Premiering in September and already cleared for a second season, the series is based on the bestselling novel by Caroline Kepnes. It tells the story of a romance between Joe (Penn Badgley) and Beck (Elizabeth Lail) that quickly transforms into a dark obsession.

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“There’s something so fundamental about this show that’s about things … almost universally, women fear,” said the show’s co-creator Sera Gamble.

In the age of the #MeToo movement to end sexual violence, Badgley was initially troubled by his role as a stalker.

“It’s like a litmus test to see the mental gymnastics we’re still going to perform at the cultural level to love an evil white man,” Badgley said. “[The show] will certainly add to the conversation, and it will create its own conversation.”

“You” also explores the consequences of social media’s intrusion on privacy.

Joe is “just an intelligent guy who understands the way people use the internet,” Gamble said. “He uses it in the way it was sort of intended. We follow that to some dark conclusions that are not unbelievable.”