Crime drama YOU has been one of the most talked about TV shows in the past few months, and much of the focus is on how creepy Joe is. Penn Badgley does an incredible job portraying his character, and it’s safe to say that the setting of the show is almost a character in itself.

In the first season, Joe is stalking and spying on Beck (Elizabeth Bail) in New York City, and in the second season, he moves to Los Angeles and sets his sights on Love (Victoria Pedretti). Both cities play a really important part in the storytelling. Here are five reasons that the L.A. setting is awesome on YOU and five reasons that NYC was better.

10 L.A.: The Show Explores Celebrity In A Smart And Funny Way

There’s something about L.A. that makes people think that they could be famous, and YOU explores that in a really intelligent way. From the moment that Joe arrives at the airport, he sees a man being mobbed by fans (and he later realizes that’s the stand-up comedian Henderson, played by Chris D’Elia). It’s clear that people are all desperate to find success and recognition.

Whether he’s at a house party trying to find some intel or dealing with Love’s twin brother Forty, who swears he’ll be a great filmmaker soon, Joe is disgusted by the quest for fame, although he seems kind of fascinated by it at the same time. This aspect of the second season is amazing, and it’s a reason why the L.A. setting works so well.

9 NYC: The Bookstore Helps Establish Joe’s Character

At first, Joe seems like a handsome guy full of charm, and it’s easy to imagine how Beck (and Candace… and probably many others) could fall in love with him. Viewers are introduced to Joe in the NYC bookstore, and this is a huge part of his identity as he has always been a big reader.

Since Joe was truly in his element in the bookstore, that’s one point for the NYC setting. It really helps establish his character and it could be one reason why people are still drawn to him even though he does terrible things.


8 L.A.: Joe’s Apartment Complex Is Super Creepy

While Joe didn’t exactly live in luxury in New York, his L.A. apartment complex is pretty creepy. It has some Melrose Place vibes thanks to the courtyard (although there’s no pool) and it feels like although Joe always spies on people, others are watching him all the time.

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Since Delilah (Carmela Zumbado) doesn’t trust Joe from the moment that she first sees him, and since viewers are always on edge wondering who Joe is going to hurt next, this setting has a high creep factor.

7 NYC: The Glass Cage In The Bookstore Basement Is Scarier Than The Storage Locker

It’s terrifying when Will (Robin Lord Taylor) and Delilah end up in Joe’s glass cage in the L.A. storage locker, but there was something even worse about the structure that was set up in the NYC bookstore basement.

Because no one would suspect it to be there, and because it was leftover from when Joe’s boss at the bookstore, Mr. Mooney (Mark Blum) set it up, it was so horrifying. Watching Joe repeat the pattern that Mr. Mooney did to him by trapping people in there is just too eerie.

6 L.A.: Anavrin Is A Perfect Setting

From the moment that Joe gets hired in the “bookstore” at Anavrin, it’s clear that this is an amazing setting for the show. People wonder if the store is supposed to be Erewhon, which is a well-known natural food store in Los Angeles that sells similar healthy products. Anavrin is the backward spelling of “Nirvana” and since Love and Forty’s parents own it, it becomes both a way for Joe to get close to his new obsession and a bit of a trap.

The scenes filmed in this store are dreamy as everything, from the produce to the baked goods to the bottled juice, looks delicious and healthy and like it could change someone’s life in an instant. It’s a powerful and interesting place.

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5 NYC: Joe’s Relationship With Paco Was Interesting

One aspect of the first season that humanized Joe was his relationship with Paco (Luca Padovan), the kid who lives in his apartment building. He knows that Paco’s mother is in an abusive situation and he takes Paco under his wing, lending him books.

Fans wondered if Joe was actually a good guy… but only for a split second, of course, because then Joe murders Paco’s mother’s boyfriend and acts like it’s just what you have to do sometimes.

4 L.A.: Joe Can’t Control His Environment In The Same Way

When comparing the first and second seasons of YOU, it’s clear that there’s one major difference: when he’s in New York, Joe is in total control of his physical environment. He calls the shots and he knows what’s going on. But when he moves to L.A., that changes and he suddenly can’t control anything.

Whether he’s getting his finger chopped off by Jasper (Steven W. Bailey) or he’s trying to blackmail Henderson, things keep going awry for Joe. He’s in a new place with people who are used to manipulating others to get what they want, and he can’t handle it.

3 NYC: Joe’s Coworker At The Bookstore Gave Some Comic Relief

Season two of YOU is much darker and can feel a bit tough to watch sometimes. While the first season does have a lot of sadness, there was a bit of comic relief, and it came in the form of Ethan, Joe’s coworker at the bookstore.

Ethan, played by Zach Cherry, is hilarious and any scene with him adds a bit of a lighter tone that is sorely needed with this type of story.

2 L.A.: Joe Hates It, Which Adds Another Layer To The Story

As soon as Joe lands in L.A., he explains to the audience that it’s not exactly his favorite city. He doesn’t feel comfortable among so many people who are obsessed with posting on social media and filming their daily lives, and instead of chasing fame, he wants to hide and keep his secrets close to his chest.

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The fact that Joe feels so strongly about his new home is fascinating and adds another layer to the already amazing story. Fans of the show are fine with watching Joe sweat a little since, of course, he’s such a bad person.

1 NYC: Joe Fit In Better With The Hipster, Literary New Yorkers

All Joe has to do is talk to his neighbors or anyone who works at the fancy grocery store and it becomes totally clear that he’s a New Yorker art heart. He fits in better with people who read actual books and spend time in cafes rather than people who talk about green juice and cassava chips.

Even though the second season of YOU is well-crafted and the Los Angeles location is great, there was something special about the NYC setting. The fact that he fit in with his peers honestly made his obsession with Beck even scarier (and even more compelling to watch) because it was like no one saw it coming. He just didn’t stick out as much as he does in L.A.

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