You took a rough path to being one of the most popular shows on Netflix.
Executive producer Greg Berlanti, who is also responsible for at least 16 other shows or pilots currently in production, is one of the most successful producers in TV, but he didn’t have an easy time finding or keeping a home for You.
The series, which stars Penn Badgley as a charming stalker and murderer, was originally bought by Showtime.
“But…once they read the script, they were really cool about saying, ‘You can take it somewhere else,'” Berlanti said on a panel at the INTV conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday, according to Variety. The show then went to Lifetime. “We shot it, and because of their launch cycle it sat in the can for a while for two-and-a-half years. Then they finally started to release it, and it didn’t do very well.”
Lifetime wasn’t into a season two, and Berlanti says he begged.
“You go into offices and sound like a crazy person: ‘I still think it’s going to work, I still think it’s going to work—maybe one more episode, maybe if people have a chance to see five more episodes.”
As Lifetime was saying no, Netflix stepped in and bought the show, agreeing to make a second season, though nobody could have predicted quite how popular the show would become. Berlanti said he “started getting a flood of emails and texts from people—who knew me and knew the show had been on since the summer—and then I felt like people were really discovering the show.”
Netflix even claimed that the show was on track to at least be sampled by 40 million people, and meanwhile, Penn Badgley was finding himself fending off fans who were a little too attracted to his stalkery, murdery character.
Even Berlanti himself says that was the draw of the books, written by Caroline Kepnes, that made him want to make the show in the first place, alongside EP Sera Gamble.
“I couldn’t believe that I was so in this person’s head that I was actually kind of rooting for this relationship,” he said. “I loved making the show…and it was nice that it made the cut and survived long enough to get another chance at life.”
Season two will follow Kepnes’ second book, which takes Joe to Los Angeles to stalk somebody new, since the former target of his affections, Beck (Elizabeth Lail) is no longer with us.