From the moment aspiring writer, Beck (Elizabeth Lail) walks into the bookshop Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) is obsessed with her. From his inner monologue we discover he’s decided it’s love at first sight. He quietly believes he already knows everything about her and what is missing from her life is him.
Joe will stop at nothing to find a way into Beck’s life and sets about using every means at his disposal (all of them creepy) to worm his way in. He even goes as far as to “remove” obstacles that he sees as being in the way to their happiness.
It’s not going to be as easy as Joe hoped though. Beck is pretty good at keeping secrets herself and her behaviour regularly confounds Joe, leading him to drop little red flags all over the place. Beck’s high society friends aren’t very keen on Joe either. In fact her friend, Peach (Shay Mitchell) is extremely suspicious of Joe’s intentions.
As the relationship progresses, more and more questions are raised, most importantly what happened to Joe’s ex, Candace (Ambyr Childs) and is Beck being honest about her family and where she gets her money?
I got totally sucked into this show. Although Joe was as creepy AF, I wanted to know what he was going to do next. His use of social media is ingenious – horrible and disturbing but ingenious and it shows you how easy it is to manipulate the “truth” using the internet. I liked the fact that Beck was not some perfect Mary Sue character. She was flawed and fucked up and very real… and sometimes a bit annoying to be honest. Pretty much every character in the show has twisted motives and watching them be revealed is addictive. It is also one of the negatives of the show. There were parts where it got a little bit too over the top and I got a bit eye rolly. When it got too dramatic it started to feel a bit stale, where the rest of the format with the voiceovers and the social media inputs felt really fresh. A little restraint would have probably pushed it from good to great.
I had conflicted feelings about Joe’s relationship with his neighbour, Paco (Luca Padovan). It helped to create balance within Joe as a character and tied in with hinting at a neglected and messed up childhood that might have pushed him over the edge. At the same time I mean trying to humanise a predator is a bit problematic.
Penn Badgeley is definitely the show’s MVP. Joe makes your skin crawl but at the same time he is fascinating. Elizabeth Lail’s Beck is charming in a way that makes you see why she is so attractive to Joe but she’s also real and relatable. I also thought Shay Mitchell was excellent at making Peach into a complete bitch while still making you think, she might have some good points here.
The cliff hanger ending was epic and unexpected and I will totally be tuning in for season 2… although I have a suspicion it’s going to get even crazier.