Lifetime’s “You” Knows Ezra Fitz and Dan Humphrey Are the Fucking Worst

Every spoiler in the world is contained within this review. 

Listen, Lifetime’s You is a terrible television show and you absolutely should not watch it — but it does have one single redeeming quality: it peels the Freeform/CW filter off Ezra Fitz/Dan Humprhey and lays their psychotic stalking and gross-ass misogyny bare. Shay Mitchell also plays an obsessive lesbian socialite, but that’s unfortunately not the main point.

You is Greg Berlanti and Sera Gamble’s adaptation of Caroline Kepnes’ novel of the same name. It’s about a Serena van der Woodsen/Alison DiLairentis named Guinevere Beck who wanders into a bookstore and meets a Dan Humphrey/Ezra Fitz named Joe who immediately starts stalking her. He’s like, “Why’d she pay with a credit card if she didn’t want me to know her full name for Googling and reading literally everything she’s ever posted on social media?” “Why’d she get drunk and fall onto the train tracks if she didn’t want me to jump down there and rescue her and also steal her phone?” “Why’d she have sex with her terrible boyfriend right in front of these giant-ass windows with no blinds if she didn’t want me to wank off in the bushes right outside?” “Why’d her boyfriend let me catfish him down to the sound-proof basement of my bookshop if he didn’t want me to murder him to death?”

And here’s the kicker: The audience doesn’t have to just guess that’s what Joe’s thinking because the entire time he’s stalking Beck he’s voicing over every single thing he does, rationalizing away his predatory behavior with such exhausting gusto he actually convinces himself what he’s doing is what she wants him to do.

Joe’s an Ezra Fitz/Dan Humphrey hybrid, even outside of the stalking. He loves books — but not those garbage best-sellers read by the unwashed masses. He likes the classics, okay? He likes them bound in leather. High-brow well-regarded literature that people gush about over cold roasted moroccan spiced salmon and various tartlets at New Yorker parties. He likes a book you read in a smoking jacket while sipping a port. You give him a sci-fi written by a woman of color and he’s going to slap it out of your hands! You ever heard of Charles Dickens? You ever heard of David Foster Wallace? This is how he connects with Beck in the first place. In the bookstore, he trots out this bullshit when he first meets her and she agrees with him, confirming that he is such a goddamn special genius.

Okay but Shay Mitchell! She is very good as rich, flippant socialite Peach Salinger (yeah, yeah, like J.D.) and I hope she plays ten thousand more bitchy lesbians in her career! She rolls her eyes and sips her cocktails judgmentally and says the meanest Blair Waldorf shit (“Why do we need to come to Greenpoint to hear some wannabe read a poem about the bleakness of life or whatever”) and shames Beck about being poor while offering to loan her money which is obviously a passive-aggressive move to make Beck indebted to her. She puts her hand on Beck’s hand possessively, says she’ll do anything for her “and don’t forget it.” Peach reminds Beck repeatedly that her boyfriend — who owns an “artisanal soda start-up,” by the way — is the worst, and it’s like, yes, she’s being protective, but also controlling and clearly wants Beck to be her girlfriend. (This is only maybe four minutes, total, out of the whole pilot.)

Anyway, unlike Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl, which kept walking right up to Ezra and Dan’s stalking and sexism, and then running backwards, forcing characters to say things like, “Golly, he’s just too romantic for his own good,” You looks at this fucking creeper and is like “Wow, what a fucking creeper.”

The thing is, we don’t need a TV show to tell us guys like these are the worst because we already know guys like these are the worst. There’s no real catharsis in it; we were never going to give in to the urge to humanize them anyway. You is one-and-done for me, unless “you know I’ll do anything for you” was lesbian foreshadowing that Peach is ultimately going to club Joe over the head with a literal mallet the way Joe did to Beck’s artisanal-soda-boyfriend at the end of the episode. That level of secret misandry would make You a… definite maybe.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 884 articles for us.

8 Comments

  1. Dan Humphrey as Joe: the most inspired casting since Mr. Schuester as Jo’s abusive ex on Grey’s Anatomy.

    I don’t understand how network executives look at the rise of the #MeToo movement and think this is the kind of show America really needs right now.

  2. I really want Shay Mitchell as a lesbian Blair Waldorf. So much. Can they just do a spin-off with her and then immediately cancel the regular show? I feel like that would be appropriately rude for such an unimaginative concept. Let’s ghost the bad shows about straight dudes that no one needs.

  3. I watched this last night and along with that horrible remake of The Bad Seed before it but literally all I could think of while watching it was is this Beck girl so poor she can’t even afford blinds/curtains.

  4. Are we supposed to root for anyone in the show? Because they all seem so one dimensional and caricatures of themselves. Like are we supposed to feel anything about Beck who writes pretentious poetry and lives in a huge manhattan apartment even though she’s apparently broke?

  5. This made me laugh so much, but the high point was perhaps “murder him to death.” I would very much be down for re-watching this harebrained travesty if instead of Ezra/Dan, you provided the VO.

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