Lifetime's You is perhaps best described as the twisted child of American Psycho and You've Got Mail. Which, in this case, makes star Elizabeth Lail Meg Ryan... and, as we saw in the show's first season finale, a victim of a bona fide psychopath, one with a passion for great works of literature instead of Huey Lewis and the News.
Yes, Guinevere Beck (better known by the cool girl name of simply Beck) is gone from this world, having become a successful author not only after her murder, but because of it. Serial killer Joe (Penn Badgley) is a free man, ready to take Los Angeles by storm: He'll return for season 2 of You, based on You author Caroline Kepnes' West Coast-based follow-up novel Hidden Bodies.
But what of Beck? Whether Beck will return in some form is yet to be seen.
In conversation with Refinery29, the former Once Upon a Time actress unpacks the show’s dramatic first season, the obsession everyone in the You-niverse has with her character, and the truth about romance in the modern age.
Refinery29: You is based on Caroline Kepnes' novel of the same name; was there anything you were nervous about adapting?
Elizabeth Lail: "I was pretty shocked by You. I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into and how dirty it was going to be! I was curious about how they were going to pull of the sex scenes and whatnot on Lifetime. I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to do it justice, because a large part of the story is the sexual components of these characters. So I was intrigued. It turned out alright I think! [Laughs]"
What do you think of fans finding Joe attractive, despite everything we know about him?
"It makes me wonder, why are we attracted to things that we know are bad? It’s like a vice. Joe is a kind of vice because he’s fulfilling all of these romantic tropes. He is the hero in some ways because of how he presents himself. I think people are attracted to that, and they’re rooting for Beck and Joe to make it work — like maybe they’ll be the perfect amount of crazy for each other.
"Is it our human condition that makes us so intrigued by what we’re not allowed to do or what we’re not allowed to touch or what we know is wrong? I don’t exactly have the answer to that but I think we’re all pretty much like that."
As for Beck, she only sees the romantic side of Joe until it's too late.
"For most of the time we’re filming, I’m just in a dramatic rom-com or something. Joe is very romantic; there’s a real connection and real chemistry. I think if Beck wasn’t dealing with all the other shitty parts of her life, it would have felt just like a rom-com for her. [Joe] seems to have some kind of intelligence. He comes off as very attractive, especially in that first scene. I tend to act as if I don’t know his [dark and disturbing] thoughts.”
Why do you think that so many people are obsessed with Beck? She has multiple stalkers throughout the first season. What makes her so appealing?
"It’s interesting, because when I talk about this in terms of You casting me in that role, I’m like I don’t really see it! [Laughs] I don’t think multiple people would want to stalk me! And I think Beck is the same way. She doesn’t know her self worth. I don’t actually think they’re attracted to her being like, a goddess, or something. I think they’re attracted to the fact that they really can influence her. Peach [played by Shay Mitchell] really influences her because Beck is still figuring out what her truth is. And therefore she’s acting as she needs to moment to moment with each person [in her life]. Joe thinks he can save her and make her life what she really wants it to be. So I think it’s like a power dynamic on their part that just happens to be Beck, unfortunately."
The book is told entirely from Joe's perspective, but the show diverges to show how Beck sees the world. What was it like to play that?
“It made me really happy because there’s this fear that when you’re the playing the romantic interest that it is all you are. You’re just pretty and light and there for the attraction and the chemistry. But the hope is always to be playing a character that’s a bit more developed than that, and a bit more meaningful to the story. We have a lot of female writers, but that scene [when we switch to Beck's perspective in "The Captain"] was actually written by a man. I thought it was important: I feel for Beck, and I think she deserves a chance to be heard from her side of things. And it’s not to say that she sees the world as accurate, either. I think it goes to prove that our thoughts are not always true."
Will Beck make an appearance in season 2?
“At the moment I am not shooting season 2, but I’m not even sure they’ve written season 2 as far as I know. There’s always a possibility because Joe is psychotic, but as of right now I have no idea."
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