Greg Berlanti said Tuesday that he sounded “like a crazy person” trying to convince Lifetime to give his show “You” a second season amid flagging ratings before Netflix swooped in, picked up the series and turned it into a sensation.
Speaking at a panel discussion at the INTV conference in Jerusalem, the veteran writer and TV producer said that “You” had a very different path to success from many of his biggest shows, such as “Dawson’s Creek,” “Everwood” and “Riverdale.”
“We pitched it and sold it to Showtime of all places, but…once they read the script, they were really cool about saying, ‘You can take it somewhere else,’” Berlanti recalled. He then turned to Lifetime, which “wanted to make it, and we shot it, and because of their launch cycle it sat in the can for a while for two-and-a-half years. Then they finally started to release it, and it didn’t do very well.”
Berlanti said he kept advocating for the show. “You go into offices and sound like a crazy person: ‘I still think it’s going to work, I still think it’s going to work – maybe one more episode, maybe if people have a chance to see five more episodes.”
Just as Lifetime decided against going ahead with another season, the show was bought by Netflix, who “assured us they would do a second season.” Once the show hit the streaming platform, Berlanti said he “started getting a flood of emails and texts from people – who knew me and knew the show had been on since the summer – and then I felt like people were really discovering the show.”
Berlanti said he wanted to make the series as soon as he read the 2014 novel “You” by Caroline Kepnes.
“I couldn’t believe that I was so in this person’s head that I was actually kind of rooting for this relationship,” he said of the plotline, which features an obsessed stalker targeting a young woman. “I loved making the show… and it was nice that it made the cut and survived long enough to get another chance at life.”