You, the Penn Badgley-fronted drama, was designed as a Rorschach test, according to the creators, albeit one that the audience failed, according to the former Gossip Girl star.
The series, which was written by Greg Berlanti and Sera Gamble and based on Caroline Kepnes’ best-selling novel, tells the story of a bookstore manager (Badgley) who crosses paths with an aspiring writer (Elizabeth Lail). The love story, however, soon becomes dark. Using the Internet and social media as his tools to gather the most intimate of details and get close to her, a charming and awkward crush quickly becomes obsession as he quietly and strategically removes every obstacle – and person – in his way.
Speaking to an audience at Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys event, Badgley said: “We’ve had this meta experience since the show has come out, and people have responded so overwhelmingly positive about Joe, which says a lot. It says a lot of things about our beliefs and stances on justice, but Joe is definitely a Rorschach test – and we’re failing.”
Berlanti added that it was designed to see how deep the audience is in to the story and rooting for these two people, despite the darkness. He added that he read Kepnes’ book in a weekend and couldn’t stop thinking about it before getting the same reaction from Gamble and admitted that it took them a year to write the script.
“We felt it had to be a love story and a horror movie in every single scene,” Gamble said. “You can read it as a sweet story, or you can read it as terrifying. If we cast someone who was sort of creepy, then the story wouldn’t work; the idea is that it’s a lead in a romantic comedy who works in a book store and a woman walks in, they have a cute meet and fall in love and live happily ever after. That’s the show. Except for the part of dissolving bodies in cat litter.”
The 10-episode show initially launched on Lifetime in September before streamign on Netflix internationally and then in the U.S. in December. It soon became a breakout hit for the SVOD service, which said that 40M households watched it in its initial weeks before moving to become a Netflix original for Season 2.
The show is produced by Berlanti Productions and Alloy Entertainment in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television and A+E Studios and is exec produced by Berlanti and Gamble alongside Berlanti Prods.’ Sarah Schechte and Alloy’s Leslie Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo.
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