posted on: Thursday January 24, 2019
by: Madeline Weaver-Nolting ’19 A&E Staff
Watching a TV show from the perspective and narration of the bad guy is exactly what the Lifetime-turned-Netflix show You does. It is the classic horror stereotype: man meets woman, woman falls in love, and man ends up being a sociopathic monster, with the slight exception that everything is from the stalker, Joe’s, perspective.
The problem with the show is that despite all of the terrible choices that Joe makes throughout the 10-part series, some fans cannot help but cheer for him. He stalks, he obsesses, he murders, and yet, he is adored by many.
The creators make it difficult because Joe is a good actor and is able to deceive the other characters. He is complicated and has many different personalities, but is still an evil character. The show tries to give his character redeeeming qualities, like taking his young neighbor, Paco, under his wing as Paco’s mom’s boyfriend is abusive. However, one must keep in mind that Joe is the true villain.
The main focus needs to be on his relationship with Guinevere Beck (“Beck”) though, as he obsesses over her after one interaction. The entire show is about Joe and Beck’s complex relationship, one that is never stable, with each one holding his or her own secrets—most importantly that Joe is stalking Beck and murdering the people in her life. Joe does not understand the concept of boundaries, while Beck does not understand that she should get curtains in her apartment.
The show originally aired on the Lifetime channel, but was ultimately sold to Netflix as they did not get the numbers they wanted. You is a classic Lifetime project because it deals with a love interest and a murderer, but the new fans that have watched it on Netflix see the show differently. Fans are rooting for the villain. The addictive and satirical show is based on the novel by Caroline Kepnes, with a few variations.
The actor who plays Joe, Penn Badgley, has even had to tell his fans to stop asking him to kidnap them. He even referenced his character as “Dan with a knife,” referring to his previous character on the hit drama Gossip Girl. Badgley is not afraid to call fans out. He said, “I remain ambivalent. I’m really questioning why people like Joe so much. … ‘Yeah, but he loves her, but he’s sweet, but it’s a love story!’ In what world?! I don’t believe that’s love. I don’t think that love equals this, so I think we have to question, what is love, and if we think this is love, where are we mistaken?”
The show is already planning its second season after its cliff-hanger ending showing that no one is safe.