Why We Shouldn't Romanticize Joe Goldberg From “You”

One of the most watched series in early 2019 was definitely “You”. Based on Caroline Kepnes’ book, “You” is a thriller that follows the life of Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) since the moment he meets Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) and "falls in love" with her. However, this "passion" becomes an obsession that Joe creates for Beck, showing that he’s actually a sociopath.

The fame of the series quickly repercussed on the globe and diverse opinions were formed about the characters, and mainly on Joe’s feelings for Beck. Clearly, the series is intended to portray how there are really sick people to the point of becoming true stalkers. On the other hand, many people began to romanticize the character of Penn Badgley, who even positioned himself on his Twitter account about these comments:

Image Source: Twitter

The critique that the series portrays was lost in a few moments, when people started to see Joe's actions as "good intentions" to maintain his relationship with Beck. So, if you are one of those people that, somehow, believes that Joe Goldberg "is not that bad," here are the reasons why you should not be romanticizing him.

PS: If you haven’t watched You, stop everything and go to Netflix because you will find spoilers here.

1. A True Stalker

Image Source: IMDb

Right after Joe and Beck first meet in the library, he searched all Beck’s social medias on the internet. OK, nowadays this is such a normal thing to do, who has never stalked all the social medias when discovered the name of that person you think is cute? But the true stalk began when he finds out Beck’s address and started to watch her through the window of her apartment and follows the girl all day long: in the university, in the bar with her friends, and it becomes a daily thing.

He just keeps watching her routine in the apartment from across the street. The apex of this stalk happens when he walks into the apartment pretending to be her boyfriend and rummages through the house, taking things like sweaters and notebooks from her. Now, this is more than a stalker, legally this is considered invasion of privacy and robbery.

2. The event on the subway

Image Source: IMDb

One of the many times Joe follows Beck was when the girl and her friends were in a bar where Beck recites her poem. Joe left early because “he couldn’t stand her blind for love”. When he was waiting the subway, Beck appeared drunk and falls on the rails. That was a moment when Joe had “luck” and took the role of hero who saves the girl. Obviously, he took advantage of the situation and stole Beck's cell phone to know more about her life. And worse, even when she bought a new cell phone, he kept the stolen one connected, being able to have her cell phone in the palm of his hand every day, knowing even more about her.

3. Kidnapping Benji

Image Source IMDb

When Joe finds out about the abusive relationship between Beck and Benji, he desperate wanted to free the girl from this situation because the guy hurted Beck’s feelings and everything would be different if they were dating. Joe’s brilliant idea is kidnap Benji so he can never get in the way of Beck’s life. But even if the intention passed by Joe was of love and protection, this action was all premeditated, even the murder of Benji. Because he would do everything above the ethical to make sure that nothing would spoil his goal of dating Beck.

4. All the Peach situation

Image source: IMDb

It was clear that the friendship between Beck and Peach had something wrong. And this was Joe’s pretext to steer Beck away from her friend, all because of wanting the best for her. You can think on impulse that Joe injured Peach or killed the girl only for self-defense. But the truth was that Joe cared about his situation and if Peach though he was a bad influence for Beck, she had to stay away from her so his plan could work, the same thing as the murder of Benji.

5. Joe’s relationship with Paco

Image source: IMDb

You give us the impression that Joe is able to nurture feelings for other people, since he is always protecting Paco from the abuses of Ron (Daniel Cosgrove), his mother's boyfriend. This attitude of Joe towards Paco reinforces the idea that the boy takes bad attitudes but in the bottom he would have a good heart. However, the real situation is that Joe only cares for Paco because he sees himself in the boy. Paco remembers him, when he was a child and had an abusive family. When he offers shelter to Paco, it is because he feels empathy for having been through the same situations as a child and he wanted to be Paco's tutor just as he was welcomed by Mr. Mooney (Mark Blum), a stern bookstore owner when he was young.

6. But why did he kill Beck?

Image source: IMDb

Alright, if until here you still romanticize Joe Goldberg in all this sociopath relationship and think that he was a simple stalker and this is perfectly normal, you can think until the last episode he killed Benji because he was a murder and he hurt Peach for impulse and then killed her in self-defense. And more, he rescued Paco from Ron’s abuses. Obviously, he is a good person.

But, what about Beck’s murder? What did she do to deserve to die if Joe loved her so much? The answer is nothing. Beck’s homicide is essential to the development of You as a critic to the sociopathic and abusive behavior of the protagonist. Joe commits such an unjustifiable attitude that he invites the boy's sympathizers to re-evaluate the similarities they have with the antagonist. In self-critical thinking, we can identify unhealthy behaviors and eliminate them - after all, see where Joe's obsession took him.

So the truth is that Joe didn’t love Beck. In the beginning, he had an obsession for her and a feeling of possessiveness. When he was sure that Beck could never love him, Joe kills the girl to save her own skin and prevent her from reporting him to the police.

The only person Joe loves is himself, and his relationship with Paco is an extension of that love. Joe only looks after Paco because he sees himself in the boy. You generate a reflection on the attitudes considered normal and that can lead to catastrophic consequences. The trump of You was putting Joe as a narrator, inviting the viewer to empathize with the young man and then showing how such empathy should not exist - and how dangerous it is.