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The hype about Netflix’s thriller series You was inescapable when it first premiered. All of my friends were theorizing about it, Twitter was full of memes, and even my boss texted me to see if I’d watched it. When I finally caved and watched the first episode, I couldn’t get myself to stop watching. You is a highly-addictive, binge-watchable series. The constant plot-twists, shocks, and cliffhangers leave you wanting more after every single episode.


**Spoilers Ahead**

Joe from You, played by Penn Badgley. Photo from Lifetime


You framed the obsessive love trope in a very dynamic, interesting way. The thrills, action, and suspense draw us in. At first, Joe Goldberg’s crush on Beck seems very sweet. He notices her — her jewelry, her clothing, her smile. Haven’t we all dreamed of finding a partner who appreciates us like that? Then, Joe, Penn Badgley’s handsome character, begins to dip into the dark side. The series is shot from Joe’s perspective, influencing how the audience perceives this unacceptable, creepy behavior. Joe thinks that his stalking is persistence, so we begin to see it this way too. His behavior seems to be justified and all of the sudden, we are rooting for a deeply problematic relationship. I sympathized with Joe for almost all of the series, as he killed Benji and continued to stalk Beck. Peach’s murder was shocking, but her fixation with Beck seemed to make it less of an evil thing to do. I was jolted back to reality of Joe’s actions when he murdered Beck, the object of his obsession.


It was at this moment where I realized that Joe never thought of Beck as a fully formed person. He romanticized her, imagining that she was some damsel in distress that needed a man to come save her. Yes, Beck was a struggling MFA student with a precarious financial situation. She had daddy issues. But Guinivere Beck was her own, independent person. She made her own choices and lived with them. She had a life before Joe. The viewers fell into Joe’s trap, his idea that she needed him to survive.

Elizabeth Lail stars as Beck. Photo from Lifetime. ​

You rides the line of showing and criticizing a problematic relationship and romanticizing it. Objectively, the main relationship in You is unhealthy. How the audience interprets it is the interesting part. Some people have idealized Joe, such as Millie Bobby Brown, who defended Joe Goldberg on her Instagram live stream. Penn Badgely and Netflix’s Twitter account, have explicitly said that the relationship shown in this show is unhealthy. I think that You makes it clear that Joe is (for lack of a better word) crazy. They can’t control how viewers will react. Overall, I think that You is different, exciting, thrilling, and a great watch.

Cornell University, Class of 2021 Mathematics & German Studies Major Just a midwest girl living in an east-coast world!
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