[EXCLUSIVE] TV Writer And Executive Producer Sera Gamble Talks Us Through Netflix’s “You”

Penn Badgley plays the character of Joe Goldberg in the Netflix series, “You”. Image: Courtesy of Netflix

What would you do for love? We know love can make us do some really crazy things. Well, Netflix will be releasing a new psychological thriller TV show, “You”, based on this exact themeIt stars Penn Badgley (any Gossip Girl fans out there?), Elizabeth Lail and Shay Mitchell. The show is based on Caroline Kepnes’ book titled with the same name. You’ll be able to watch it on Netflix starting 26th December 2018.

The protagonist is Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), who falls crazy in love with a customer, Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail). His love almost reaches to the point of obsession.

In the series, Joe goes through great lengths in his love for Beck. We’re keen on seeing how extreme it gets! We had the chance to interview the show’s Writer and Executive Producer, Sera Gamble. Sera gives us some insight on the process of making the series a success. She also shares some useful expert advice for aspiring TV writers.

Sera has produced multiple well-known TV shows like Supernatural and The Magicians.

Read on to see what Sera tells us about the new show.

Sera Gamble, Writer and Executive Producer of “You”Image: Courtesy of Netflix

CLEO (C): How did the opportunity to write the TV adaptation of Caroline Kepnes’ novel, You”, come about?

Sera Gamble (SG): Greg Berlanti sent me the book. He told me he was completely addicted to it and had been sharing it with all his friends, and they couldn’t stop talking about it. I understood why as soon as I read it and was thrilled to get the chance to write it with him.

C: As an experienced television writer and producer, could you give us a little insight on the process of adapting the story from the novel into a TV series? What would you say were the triumphs and challenges?

SG: A novel can take place deep inside one character’s head, and the conflict can be completely internal. But TV is a visual medium. And it works best when much of the conflict happens between people. So, we worked to expand the world of the book and make it possible to tell stories from multiple points of view. Making a TV show based on a book feels like running around inside a world you love, getting to expand it and look in every nook and cranny, tell stories there wasn’t room for in the book. When the source material is great, as in this case, it’s just a pleasure to get to collaborate with it. The challenge, of course, is that you don’t want to turn a great book into a terrible TV show!

Elizabeth Lail portrays Guinevere Beck in the series. Image: Courtesy of Netflix

C: What was the process like of getting into Joe Goldberg’s mind in understanding his motivations and why he would do the things he does in the story?

SG: We learned a lot from the book and had a lot of in-depth discussion that started in the writers’ room but continued until the day we locked each episode in the editing room. Penn came to the table with deeply considered thoughts and ideas, and shaping the character this season was a collaboration between us all. Even a detail as small as the hat or backpack he chooses to wear required the costume and props designers to be a part of the process of shaping the character and reflecting his drives and inner world.

“Making a TV show based on a book feels like running around inside a world you love, getting to expand it and look in every nook and cranny, tell stories there wasn’t room for in the book.”

Shay Mitchell (left) as Peach Salinger. Image: Courtesy of Netflix

C: What was it like writing about a character like Joe’s that has extreme characteristics?

SG: Fun and creepy at the same time.

C: How did you capture his character from paper to on-screen?

SG: What you are seeing onscreen is teamwork and collaboration. It takes hundreds of people to tell this story. Sure, it started with Caroline Kepnes writing the book, and with Greg Berlanti and me writing the pilot script, and with Penn taking on the role, but there is a massive team now that works their asses off to make even single page the best it can possibly be.

Image: Courtesy of Netflix

C: Have you always been interested in writing for television? How did you get into it?

Sera Gamble: I came into the business as an actor and screenwriter. But as I worked on writing screenplays, I discovered there was this whole other, much faster moving world on the TV side. A place where all these interesting people work together every day, and where the stuff you write could be on the air and watched by millions within a few short months. That was irresistible to me.

C: As someone who has written for and produced award-winning TV shows such as Supernatural and The Magicians, what’s your advice for aspiring writers who want to write for film and television? 

SG: There’s no substitute for just writing a lot, consistently, over a long period of time. Starting, and slogging through, and finishing scripts. Learning how to take a note and revise. Don’t wait for the perfect idea — go with the one that’s good enough and just start. Writing’s not a short-term pursuit. It takes years to get good at it. That might sound like I’m trying to dissuade people, but I actually find great comfort in this. You just show up every day and do your best and know things are bound to trend in a generally better direction over time. Showing up and writing is the only thing you can really control, anyway. So, might as well make it your priority. The rest is about hustle and putting your work out there and persevering. But if you’re already committed to spending your lifetime becoming a better writer, that part is nicely in perspective anyway.