This article contains spoilers for the Netflix series “You.”

Netflix’s first hit new show of 2019 isn’t new at all: The first season of “You,” a witty thriller that problematizes both social media and our affection for a man who will do anything to get the girl, began on Lifetime last September. But despite turning up on critics’ year-end Top 10 lists, the show made minimal impact on a packed TV landscape.

Then, in the middle of the holiday season, it arrived on Netflix, and suddenly it felt as if all of the internet were talking about “You.” And in an unusual move, the streaming service released its own viewing data for the show, tweeting that the show was on track to be viewed by 40 million people by the end of January. Season 2 of “You” will be released as a Netflix Original show.

“The handshake between streaming and cable has been around for a long time,” said Sera Gamble, one of the show’s creators (alongside Greg Berlanti). “We expected something of a lift, but we didn’t expect it to be like this.”

Adapted from the novel by Caroline Kepnes, the series is well-suited for a Netflix binge, staying refreshingly unpredictable as its central nightmare plays out: Beck (Elizabeth Lail) has a charming new boyfriend, Joe (Penn Badgley), who turns out to be a serial killer. Joe believes he is helping Beck to flourish, even as he murders the people closest to her.

It should come as no surprise that Gamble is so skillful at handling millennial fears given her work as a showrunner for “The Magicians,” a dark, grown-up show about students at a university of magic. (Its fourth season starts Wednesday on Syfy.)

In a phone conversation Friday, Gamble discussed what drawing 40 million viewers means to a writer, an insidious kind of mansplaining by woke men and what we should expect from Season 4 of “The Magicians.” These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

How do you feel about the fact that Netflix counts as a viewer anyone who watches 70 percent of a single episode? Does that change the way you think about the number?

No. To be honest, I haven’t dug into it at a more granular level. I heard the number and was delighted. As a writer and showrunner, the priority for me is to make a great show, and worrying about numbers isn’t that helpful.

Now that you’re with Netflix, has anything changed about the way you’re approaching Season 2?

Certain things are changing in the way we are thinking about Season 2 of “You.” We have a little more flexibility around timing, since we don’t have commercial ads, and also we can say the word [expletive] a lot more. As someone who swears a lot, that’s a great thing. Netflix lets you give as many [expletive] as you want. [Laughs]

[Read more about how “You” became a Netflix hit.]

“You” and “The Magicians” don’t seem to be chasing “prestige TV” viewers. How do you think about your audience?

Technology is making the world smaller, and to me that’s one of the greatest things about it. There’s a natural demand for new stories that are reflective of what’s important to these viewers. It’s a huge opportunity.

There are just so many other stories to tell besides the ones we’re used to, where essentially the cisgender, straight white guy runs in and saves the day for everyone else. [“Cisgender” refers to someone whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth.] I’ve enjoyed watching a thousand iterations of that story, and they were great, but now I’m kind of tired of them. I’m hungry for new points of view, and longing to see more than that one type of protagonist. I don’t believe that shows made with an audience of young women in mind should be any less ambitious than what we think of as “prestige” television.

It’s funny, “You” has an archetype at the center of the story: Joe is fashioned in the image of the classic male romantic hero. But in this case, we’ve erected this image so that we can burn it to the ground. So that’s fun.

How does it feel to know that many women have watched “You” and say it rings really true to how they experience dating men?

Well, on the one hand it’s a little creepy, isn’t it? To know that so many people can relate to a show that’s really about the bloodiest worst-case scenario of modern dating. One thing we were all excited to do was get in the writers’ room and share our own stories. Accidentally dating potential actual serial killers aside, which is a fear I’ve always walked around with, we’ve all got horrible yet amusing stories, and we are all committed to grounding this story in some personal truth about how difficult this stuff can be to navigate. We put a lot of ourselves into the cringey details.

I’m a horror writer in my heart, in that I always like to ask myself what scares me and what scares us universally when I’m approaching a story. To me there’s just about nothing scarier than the truth that we can never really know another person. And nowhere is that writ larger than in romance. We’re auditioning people to be the primary person in our lives, basically, and hoping that we somehow see into their true selves before we’re in too deep. It seems more or less impossible, right?

And part of what makes Joe Goldberg so terrifying and resonant is that he sees himself as the good guy.

For me, the most irksome phenomenon I’ve been observing lately isn’t that old-fashioned central-casting misogynist who says sexist, blatant stuff. There’s also a more insidious type of mansplaining that comes from men who declare themselves progressive and allies, who are, effectively, wearing a “this is what a feminist looks like” T-shirt.

Maybe the intention is good — one could argue that Joe’s intentions are good — but we all have to be careful anytime we think we know better than the person we’re talking to, especially about what that person needs or how they should act or behave as a member of whatever group they’re a part of. It’s a red flag. That’s what we get to explore through Joe, who genuinely believes he’s a feminist and a good man. His actions come from a deep place of entitlement because he’s confident that he should be helping Beck, though he hasn’t asked her if she wants help. And he, in fact, believes he knows better than she does what she actually needs.

Right. He’s not killing for the thrill of killing. He thinks all his behavior is justifiable in the pursuit of love.

He hates violence, and he finds it distasteful. He is a hot-blooded romantic with a determination to find love, rather than a man who loves killing. From a technical perspective, that show has already been made: “Dexter.”

Has the way you think about your job and the industry changed in these post-MeToo times?

The essence of my job as a showrunner hasn’t changed because the essence of the job isn’t about your gender. I always say I don’t get our budget in lady dollars or get to shoot our show in lady hours — the pressure and expectation is the same for any showrunner. But there’s also truth in what people are discussing now, about how women face a different or additional set of challenges, how the workplace can be made tricky and hostile for women.

I’m glad this is a conversation right now, and I think there’s room for improvement throughout our industry. And by the way, being a woman doesn’t exempt me from the learning curve. I was raised in the same society as everyone else. We know it isn’t only men who internalize all manner of harmful messaging, and no one is born knowing how to be perfect at leading a team. So the best I can do is commit to learning and staying accountable.

The characters in both “You” and “The Magicians” make a lot of references to books and films and TV. What’s your pop culture consumption like?

I have realized that what I love is a character who can make, in one sentence, references to what we think of as both pop culture and highbrow art. Because I’m not sure there’s always that much difference between the two: I think it might be a holdover from high school, when we were all so worried about seeming cool and liking the right things.

I love going down pop culture rabbit holes. I love to have a million tabs open and bounce from looking at one thing on Amazon to another and another, just to see what’s out there. I like to think of it as a giant buffet table, spread out in front of me, and I want to taste all of the flavors.

What should we expect from the fourth season of “The Magicians?”

“The Magicians” has always been a show about reaching young adulthood and what happens when you get there, and that continues in Season 4. There is this idea that when you become an adult, things are sorted. But actually things become much more complicated, and you have far more responsibilities, and our characters are realizing that.

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