An Ode to the Ridiculous Names of You

Peach and Beck from You
Peach and Beck. Photo: Netflix

I have a theory that what you found most abhorrent about You reveals a core truth about you as a human being. (This theory was borne a few minutes ago, when I started writing this post.) If you, like most people, were horrified at the stalking, the masturbating-in-bushes, the gaslighting, and the murdering that Penn Badgley’s Joe Goldberg considers romantic gestures for his one true love, congratulations! You, like most people, are normally calibrated. I bet you text your therapist back. But if the show is so outlandish and absurd that you begin obsessing about the fringe details in order to make sense of it all, come, sit by me. The inconsequential aspect of You that I would like to discuss with you is this: I am really expected to believe that someone is named Peach Salinger?!?

First, there’s the Salinger bit. In an interview with Refinery29, You’s author Caroline Kepnes called Peach a “third cousin, maybe a fourth cousin.” But looking beyond the ridiculousness of that … Peach? (Apologies to the Peaches of the world.) As in, the emoji … and sure, okay, also the fruit, but go with me here; Kepnes said she wanted her character’s name to be “kind of annoying,” and by combining a notoriously reclusive and allegedly abusive author’s name with the emoji we use to symbolize our butts, she has achieved her goal. I will also note that I have four middle names because my parents could not agree on one; so for me of all people to take issue with the names in the You-niverse is really saying something.

Then, there’s Guinevere Beck, otherwise known as Beck, otherwise known as the object of Joe’s desire. Her name is so improbable, it actually serves as a bit of flirty dialogue between the two characters when they first meet — she goes by Beck because even she knows being named Guinevere in a year that is not 1487 is pretty absurd (again, apologies to the Guineveres of the world; it is not your fault your names wound up in 2019 pop culture), but she promises her siblings have equally literary names. Fair enough, but if forced to choose between the full names Peach Salinger and Guinevere Beck, I’d choose the latter name in a heartbeat. (It’s six of one, half dozen of the other when it comes to their fates, because, y’know, murder.)

To the show’s credit, it is extraordinarily self-aware about its characters’s names, to the point where they serve as material for dialogue and are all so ridiculous that Joe’s name starts to seem weird, too. And it seems that he is destined to remain the only one with a pedestrian name; this week we were made aware that the lead female character of season two will be called Love Quinn. Apparently Joe’s type is “20-something woman with a name so distinct, Google search results yield no confusion as to who she is”? I challenge him to obsess over a Jane Smith instead.

According to a Kirkus review of Hidden Bodies, the sequel to You on which Netflix’s adaptation will be based, Joe moves to Los Angeles.

He’s soon immersed, much to his dismay, in the vapid lifestyle of Hollywood wannabes. He finds work at a used bookstore and instantly regrets sleeping with a clingy girl at his apartment complex who’s a quasi–investigative reporter for a gossip site. Things turn around when he meets quirky Love Quinn, heiress to a local organic grocery chain and dabbler in the Hollywood machine, and her coke-snorting twin brother, Forty. 

As someone born and raised in Los Angeles, may I just say that last sentence is the most Vanderpump Rules version of my hometown that I have ever read. It has everything! Heiress to a local organic grocery chain! Dabbling in the Hollywood “machine”! Twins whose parents clearly were a little too obsessed with tennis. (No one I know in L.A. plays tennis, but I will forgive.) Co-creator Sera Gamble drove this personal wedge against my hometown deeper when she told Entertainment Weekly that Love is “a Los Angeles native. She has really absorbed the best of the city and she’s really artistic with the way that she lives her life.” My money is on “the best of the city” means Runyon Canyon and that one block of Infatuation-approved restaurants downtown, and that she is “really artistic with the way she lives her life” in that she drinks a lot of green juice from the Melrose Farmer’s Market.

All of this to say, if you are a female character in You, chances are you will wind up stalked, murdered, somehow psychologically destroyed, or a combination of two or more. Oh, and someone will make a point during your relatively short life to inquire why your name is what it is. Karen Minty is the only person escapes unscathed, as she deserved.

Why Do the Women on You Have Such Ridiculous Names?