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Shows like You: What to watch if you like Netflix's twisted "romantic" thriller
Are you one of the many Netflix subscribers hooked on the twisted psychological thriller You? The show has been a major hit for the streamer, since moving there from its original home at Lifetime. After three seasons, are you looking for more shows like You?
You follows (seemingly) charming bookstore manager Joe as he develops an interest in Beck, an aspiring writer he meets at work one day. What at first looks like a romantic meet-cute, typical of many rom-coms, quickly turns sinister. Joe begins stalking his new crush, escalating to violence to make sure they can be together. As he tries to get back on track in later seasons, Joe slips back into old patterns.
Read on for a list of 10 shows like You (in various ways and to various degrees) that you can watch now on different streaming platforms.
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Shows like You
Showtime’s Dexter effectively launched a whole sub-genre of TV antiheroes. Dexter Morgan is a forensic technician in Miami who specializes in blood spatter analysis. That’s only half the show’s focus though. Dexter is also a serial killer with sociopathic tendencies. He has an overwhelming urge to kill, but feels no remorse. He has a pattern and a plan though.
With help from his sympathetic cop foster dad, Dexter has developed a system where he only targets people who are guilty of heinous crimes and have evaded justice. When the system fails, Dexter steps in. But that doesn’t mean he can hide in plain sight forever. Dexter struggles to maintain healthy relationships and keep his extracurricular activities secret.
If what you like is getting into the mind of a dangerous madman, you can’t do much better than Hannibal. The show, adapted from Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter novels, traces the relationship between the cannibal psychiatrist and criminal profiler Will Graham. Creator and showrunner Bryan Fuller brilliantly makes us care about Hannibal and his relationships with the people who are trying to catch the Chesapeake Ripper. They simply don’t know their friend and colleague is actually the serial killer they’re after.
What’s more, baked into the relationship between Will and Hannibal is a simmering, subtextual romance. After all, the heart wants what the heart wants.
Norman Bates is probably the quintessential creepy killer of women. Played by Anthony Perkins in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, genre-defining Psycho, we didn’t get a lot of insight into how the killer’s mind worked. The A&E prequel/reboot series Bates Motel changes that.
Here, we see the iconic villain (with his equally iconic mother at his side) reframed as the protagonist of his own story. We see how an innocent boy slowly becomes a killer as his mental health deteriorates over several seasons, making it a show like You worth seeking out.
Tell Me Your Secrets
Amazon’s 2021 series Tell Me Your Secrets felt like it came out of nowhere and disappeared as quietly as it arrived. Hopefully it’ll get a second season, because the first was a knockout, with terrific performances by Hamish Linklater, Lily Rabe, Amy Brenneman, Enrique Murciano, and Elliot Fletcher.
The show follows deeply flawed characters, including a former serial predator looking for redemption, a woman with a dark past and ties to another predator, and a mother grieving the loss of her daughter. The three characters’ paths collide as they seek their own answers and quickly spin out of control.
Similar to Hannibal, Killing Eve is a kind of twisted love story between a dangerous killer and the intelligence officer trying to catch her. The British spy thriller sees MI6 investigator Eve on the hunt for the international assassin Villanelle. As she gets closer to her target, both women develop an obsession with each other. The need to stop Villanelle makes way instead for a more personal relationship, all while Eve comes to realize she might not have been told everything about her mission.
The original Gossip Girl may seem like an odd fit among shows like You. Aside from sharing leading man Penn Badgley, the two shows don’t have much in common on the surface. But dig a little deeper, and it’s easy to look at You as a very self-aware deconstruction of Gossip Girl, or at least of Badgley’s character, Dan Humphrey.
Dan is, as we eventually learn, the titular Gossip Girl. That means that, like Joe, Dan narrates much of the show, and also similarly does so in a judgemental, voyeuristic way. Dan is the typical TV “nice guy” of yesteryear. He’s a self-righteous outsider who looks down on his peers, even when they include him and he gets the girl. You effectively tells us to watch out for his type, correcting for the tropes that confuse creepy obsession and romance.
The true-crime boom has led to lots of shows like You that unpack the motivations of scary people who hide in plain sight. One such example is Dirty John, based on the shocking true story and podcast of the same name.
A single mom thinks she’s found the perfect guy and a second chance at love online. But as she gets closer to her dream man, she and her kids slowly start to see a darker side of him. Is this all a case of mistaken identity, or has she uncovered a dark, violent, and manipulative double life? And are she and her kids in danger?
Behind Her Eyes
Behind Her Eyes follows Louise, a single mother who embarks on an affair with her married boss. Things get more complicated when she develops an unlikely friendship with his wife.
Major narrative twists keep this series interesting, as Louise learns more about the couple, with dark revelations putting her in danger, as she realizes no one is quite what they seem — and this love triangle threatening to turn deadly.
Like many titles on this list, The Fall tells the story of two conflicting characters: a vicious serial killer and the investigator hired to track him down and catch him. The killer is a family man leading a double life. Like Joe in You, he’s hiding in plain sight and relying on preconceived notions about what kind of person commits such ugly crimes. But the woman hot on his trail has experience with this kind of case and won’t stop until she gets her man.
The Fall is a great choice if you’re looking for shows like You — or just looking for an excuse to watch the incomparable Gillian Anderson.
In this 2020 Netflix miniseries, a mysterious stranger approaches a happy family man with some dark revelations about his wife. After he tries to confront his wife about it though, she disappears. As the series progresses, the stranger approaches more people. She shares other secrets, revealing hidden lives, elaborate cover-ups, and duplicity, all with devastating consequences for those who hear them and those in their orbits.
Like You, The Stranger looks at the double lives people lead, presenting themselves one way while hiding sometimes shocking secrets even from the people they love.