The second season of Netflix’s “You” saw Joe Goldberg, played by Penn Badgley, relocate from New York to Los Angeles. Goldberg wanted to turn over a new leaf after murdering an ex and framing her therapist for the crime, and in doing so, he assumed a different life as a man named Will. But old habits die hard, and soon enough he found a need for a soundproof cage on the West Coast, too. Here he would first hold the real Will (Robin Lord Taylor) and then others who threatened to expose his true, dark nature.
But before things took that turn, showrunner Sera Gamble says they needed to set up Joe’s new world as one of fresh opportunities.
“If you went straight from Season 1 to Season 2, you’ll notice the sun-drenched color palette. There’s something creamier about the light in L.A. than Season 1,” she says.
Joe settled in Silver Lake, which is teeming with 20-somethings, but originally Gamble says she had in mind a classic courtyard-style Hollywood apartment for the character — and they “scouted a billion” such buildings, she jokes. The most important thing was for it to have “that U-shape or O-shape complex for him,” Gamble says, so “he could be on the second floor looking over this atrium, and it has that stalker feel to it.”
Joe’s inner disdain for the City of Angels often put him at uncomfortable odds with the people he encountered and situations in which he found himself, such as the high-end hipster grocery store Anavrin (inspired by the real L.A.’s Erewhon, home of artisanal sodas and $12 green juices), as well as in his ex Candace’s (Ambyr Childers) Airbnb.
“I loved the idea that Joe would find himself in places he didn’t intend to be,” Gamble says.
As things grew more complicated for Joe and he found himself needing to construct a new cage on the fly and in a strange city, Gamble looked to the “eerie” storage facilities that are “dotted around” the city. “They’re a place for you to put a giant pile of stuff that you don’t want to deal with,” she says.
The facility needed to be the kind “where the cameras are broken” in order to be “perfect” for Joe’s need for privacy.
Gamble discussed the idea and size of the cage with her production designers Sarah Knowles and Hugh D.G. Moody, and their process began with online research. “You’d be amazed at what you can get in a kit if you Googled it,” Gamble says.
They looked up blueprints but quickly realized one storage unit would be too cramped and hard to shoot in, so they came up with the notion that Joe rented out several units. Together they also worked out how and why this cage would be different from the underground, temperature-controlled one Joe used in the first season. That one, located in the basement of the bookstore at which he worked, was originally created to store rare and delicate books and only repurposed to hold people giving Joe trouble. The second-season cage, however, was built solely as a prison cell of sorts.
Of course, “he did some unauthorized renovations that people on-site were not aware of,” Gamble says.
Sera Gamble’s Inspirations:
Writers’ room style: “I love cafes and that feeling of being in the world. I like eavesdropping and I miss it. At home, I have a lot of art books and photography. I’ll surround myself with things that aren’t about work and I’ll take a book out and look through it before I start work.”
Favorite writers’ room snack: “Before we went home, our P.A. brought in Hu chocolate-covered almonds. I like junk food that tastes good and has this veneer of virtuousness over it; I like things that are in the ZIP code of being healthy.”
Mood music: “Chopin or Mozart.”
How she breaks writer’s block: “I take a really big step back and do a diagnostic and ask, ‘Is it possible that I feel stuck because I made a wrong turn somewhere?’”