- The Lifetime series “You” that’s recently been picked up by Netflix is based on the novel of the same name by Caroline Kepnes.
- In the book, the characters Paco, Claudia, Annika, and Raj don’t exist.
- In the TV series, Candace gets a much more prominent backstory and Peach is much more suspicious of Joe.
If you’ve been following the buzz around “You,” odds are you spent the beginning of 2019 working your way through the 10 suspenseful episodes of the thriller series on Netflix or you’ve already watched it all when it first aired on Lifetime.
The series stars Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail, Shay Mitchell, and John Stamos. But before it was perhaps one of the buzziest shows of 2019 so far, “You” was (and is) a novel written by Caroline Kepnes.
Published in 2014, “You” was Kepnes debut novel – which she followed up with a sequel titled “Hidden Bodies.” And due to popular demand, Netflix has picked up the psychological thriller for season two, although it won’t follow the second book super closely.
In any book-to-TV adaptation, there are dozens of minute changes to the series that most people would never catch and “You” the series is no different. Thankfully, Kepnes stayed on as a consulting producer for the series, so the changes made to the overall story were (hopefully) made with her approval.
Here are a few of the biggest differences between “You” the TV series and “You” the novel.
Warning: Post contains spoilers for both the “You” TV series and novel.
Joe Goldberg’s neighbours do not exist in the book.
Although prominently featured on the TV series, Joe’s neighbours Ron, Claudia, and Paco are not present in the book. These characters, let alone their names or storylines, are nowhere to be found in the 425-page book.
Their tragic storyline was completely made for the TV series – in the book, there’s no beating from Ron (in fact, Joe gets beat by a former employee, Curtis, in the book on page 259), there are no hospital visits or drug overdoses to humanize Joe, and there is definitely no Paco for Joe to look after.
In the book, Benji never killed anyone.
On the TV series, Benji is the owner of an artisanal soda company. In the book, Benji is actually the proud owner of an “organic club soda company that symbolises everything bad about right now.”
One thing does remain the same between the book and movie: Benji is a narcissist who happens to really be allergic to peanuts and could care less about Beck. Unfortunately, the TV show does change a significant part of Benji’s storyline, having him reveal to Joe that he killed one of his friends and caught the whole thing on tape. This detail was perhaps added to help Benji look like more of a bad guy, making Joe seem a bit “justified” in killing the rival suitor.
In the book, Beck doesn’t have to work and she’s not financially struggling as much.
In the book, Beck isn’t a broke student who really needs a job – at least there’s not much of an indication that she is anyway. On the TV show, she’s a yoga teacher who has to balance early morning classes with her tough teaching assistant schedule. But in the book, she’s none of those things – and there’s also no inappropriate mentor threatening to remove her from said fictional vocation.
In the book, Beck lives in an apartment meant for Brown graduates pursuing a graduate degree in New York City. She won the apartment by writing a winning essay for The Brownstone Biased Lottery. And, while she could probably afford curtains, both the show and book maintain that Beck’s apartment windows remain bare, allowing Joe to do all of his peeping activity unobstructed.
And, while we’re on the topic of Beck’s finances, in the book, Peach never offers to give Beck money to hold her over like she does on the show.
Annika doesn’t exist in the book.
Beck’s influencer friend Annika is a character created solely for the Lifetime series. In the book, Beck’s go-to friends are Chana and Lynn. Neither character plays a major role in the book, hardly interacting with Joe at all.
On the other hand, the TV show frequently depicts Beck’s friends hanging out with Peach, but in the book, Peach likes to keep Beck’s other friends at bay and neither girl seems to mind as they dislike Peach.
There are several more characters on the show that are not in the books.
On the show, Beck and Joe accidentally run into Maddie Johnson at one of Peach’s parties, where Johnson slyly asks about Candace moving to Italy and ghosting literally everyone she’s ever known – planting seeds of suspicion in Beck’s head. But this doesn’t happen in the book as Johnson isn’t a character in Kepnes original novel.
Elijah, the guy Joe was supposed to have killed after finding out he slept with Candace, is also not in the novel. And neither is Raj, who has an interesting sleepover with Peach and Beck in Greenwich.
Candace has more of an established life in the TV series.
In the novel, the reader doesn’t get too much insight into who Candace was – other than she was one of Joe’s previous girlfriends who he killed. On the show, however, Candace is given a whole storyline. She’s an angsty musician who eventually signs with a producer (that she’s also sleeping with) before moving to Rome.
Oh, and contrary to the TV show, Beck never tries to investigate what happened to Candace in the books – the reader isn’t even sure Beck even knows who she is.
At the end of Kepnes novel, Joe actually meets a new woman in his bookstore, a woman we only know as Amy Adam, a credit card thief. In the book, Joe encounters Candace. Candace’s reappearance at the end of the season is unexpected, hinting towards an exciting and off-book season two of “You.”
In the book, Peach is not super suspicious of Joe.
In the book, Peach (played by Shay Mitchell) never confronts Joe about his obsession with Beck even though she does so on the TV show. In the book, Peach does think she has a stalker but doesn’t mention that she believes it is Joe. She also doesn’t attack Joe with a gun after finding him in her vacation house.
On the TV series, it’s implied that Joe shoots Peach. And Peach’s suicide note is left, typed, on her laptop. In the book, Joe kills Peach on the beach, sending an ambiguous note to Beck from her phone before filling her pockets with rocks and dumping her lifeless body in the ocean. Unlike on the TV series, no one notices that Peach has died for a few weeks and there’s no commotion surrounding her death and definitely no private investigator looking into her alleged suicide.
In the book, Joe doesn’t get caught at the Dickens Festival.
Joe isn’t the stealthiest stalker on the show. In fact, he gets caught at the Dickens Festival red-handed, but quickly lies to Beck and is then invited to a super awkward Beck family dinner.
However, in the book, Joe actually purchased a Dickensian costume (and a beard, although that is not of the Dickensian type) to blend in at the celebration. He loses his beard after violently puking while onboard a ferry and is almost caught by Beck but he makes it out of the whole ordeal unseen. In the book, there is also not much emphasis on Beck’s father’s new family other than that she’s mostly disliked by them.
Karen Minty is a bit different in the book.
Unlike the book, Karen Minty on the Lifetime series is a kindhearted do-gooder who is relatively normal.
In the book, Joe begins to date Minty after a therapy session with Dr. Nicky when Dr. Nicky suggests he could get the “mouse out of his house” by finding a ” stray cat.” Joe interprets this by trying to replace Beck with a new lover.
In the book, Joe meets Minty in the subway and they have a conversation and sort of fall in love. On the TV series, Minty is his neighbour Claudia’s sister who has come to visit. As aforementioned, Claudia doesn’t exist in the book series.
One thing does remain true in both the book and the show is that Minty is a nurse and she does briefly date Joe.
The creepy box of Beck’s personal belongings is hidden somewhere else in the book.
Among the dozens of other details that changed between the on-screen adaptation of Kepnes’ novel, a big one was when, on the TV show, Beck discovers “the Box of Beck” filled with her stolen mementos in the ceiling of Joe’s bathroom.
In the book, Beck has to climb into a hole in the wall (made by Joe after tossing a typewriter through it) in order to discover the box. Joe doesn’t try to conceal the box because he says no woman would ever climb up to look inside a hole.
In both the show and the novel, Beck does find a pair of her panties, a used tampon, and even her yearbook inside the secret box, but in the book she doesn’t find any creepy “souvenirs” that Joe kept of his past kills. In the book, there’s nothing belonging to Benji, Peach, or Candace is found in the box. There aren’t any teeth, either. In fact, when Beck finds the box, all she thinks is Joe is a “twisted panty-hoarding creep.”
There’s not much indication that Beck knows Joe killed Peach, Candace, or Benji by the time she dies in the novel, but Beck knows the truth before her death in the TV show.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.