Although Lifetime’s “You” follows Joe (Penn Badgley), a man who becomes obsessed with a woman named Beck (Elizabeth Lail) and stalks her to win her affection, it takes time to get inside Joe’s mind to find out the why behind his behavior. However, explaining does not mean justifying, according to the team behind the show.
“In a way, this season tests the limits of what you’ve been trained to do, which is root for men to be rehabilitated by love and judge women until they’re in the [loving] relationship and rehabilitating the man,” co-creator and showrunner Sera Gamble said at the Paley Fall TV Preview panel Sunday.
Based on Caroline Kepnes’ novel of the same name, Gamble said the series will address the double standard that justifies men’s irrational actions in the name of love, while condemning women.
“The question I’ve been asking is: Is it as important to know who uniquely did something to Joe in order to make him this way or what is it about the false standards of our society that enable him further?” Badgley said,
Badgley continued that his character, who is somewhat of a “monster,” makes decisions that are “supported by every wrong romantic comedy he comes across.”
Lail also addressed how society applauds male love interests for their persistence, saying, “I think that those kinds of lessons are so deeply ingrained in our society that we don’t even realize that it is creepy or that men are not taking ‘no’ for an answer. It’s deemed romantic to keep pursuing after a woman has said ‘no.'”
Lail said she hopes female viewers watch the show and are encouraged to stand up for themselves and speak out when they don’t wish to be pursued, while Badgley wants audiences to question their definitions of love and relationships.
“It currently is something people are interested in, to uncover that which we’ve been turning away from — our willful ignorance in terms of predatory men,” he said in regards to the romantic appeal of his character.
“You” premieres Sept. 9 on Lifetime.