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YOU Belong with Me:The Joe Goldberg Syndrome

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

“The first step to fixing something is to know no matter how destroyed it seems, it can always be saved.”

Joe Goldberg has been a friend and an enemy to many in the real world and maybe even an inspiration to some. You just know that the show genuinely has something to offer when a fictional character rattles you beyond belief and ‘You’ stands to provide the perfect example for that. It delves into the aspects of love and obsession that are not only remarkably dark but also staggeringly accurate. And very meticulously, the show analyzes the fatal realities of these emotions while subtly drawing a line between how much of that is normal and how much of that is unusual. People have various notions of the word ‘love’, some might say it is the genesis of all other emotions that exist, it’s all-consuming and delicate yet mighty whereas others might argue that it may be an epidemic in itself. So, the question is, where do things really go wrong?

The problem is, for those who are conditioned to look at love in shades of red and red only are the ones who cannot differentiate between apprehension and appreciation. It’s as blue as it is crimson and probably has more shades than known to humans. So there is a perpetual quandary to put this predicament to rest, but to no avail. People learn what they see or are conditioned to believe and even after years and years of attempts at unlearning, the horrid memories stay with them like souvenirs from the past never intended to be kept. Joe Goldberg’s first notion of love was deeply rooted in violence and vehemence. What he witnessed as a child stayed with him and subconsciously became an essential part of his thought process. What also stayed was a feeling of being unloved and underappreciated which caused him to leap at the first opportunity to feel loved, cherished and understood. But it is, in fact, astonishing that these desires that are unmistakably human can lead people to unfathomably sinister destinations.

A venture that starts off as unquenchable curiosity morphs into an obsession for Joe, the beloved becomes the victim and passion escalates to crimes. With Joe, there are a lot of issues from the past that have remained unresolved. Therefore, psychologically, he does what most people do – fixate on what has not been fixed. His emotions and thoughts are perhaps in semblance with what a lot of other people feel too, but it’s what he does with those emotions that discerns him from the rest of the demographic. His quest to really find ‘the one’ is sabotaged by his desire to lie and build something integral on the feeble foundation of dishonesty. In futile attempts to find his true match, he sacrifices the lives of many, supposedly as a votive offering to his only religion – love. Its actually ironic how quickly he defenestrates this devotion in the face of adversary and replaces it with a narcissistic concern for himself. It doesn’t take much for him to wreak havoc at one place, then flee the scene and start his ‘new’ life somewhere else.

Now, when you think about all of that, Joe Goldberg seems like a bad news. Someone to stay away from at all times. But the way the writers have written his character and the way he justifies all the crimes he commits, his actions start seeming reasonable. Like the viewer isn’t mortal anymore and blood is just a small price to pay, anyway. The part of people that roots for Joe and doesn’t want him to get caught is also the part that is terrified of what he’s capable of doing and wants this to end. And that’s what makes this show superior to so many others; it’s ability to not only keep people hooked but also have them at war with their conscience over their controversial opinions about Joe. The emotions that are portrayed are again, so human but the tactics Joe resolves to in order to deal with the said emotions are ,let’s just say, not so human.

Another relevant facet of the show is how his childhood is portrayed and each of his issues dates back to how he was treated as a kid. All of these issues turned him into a brutally flawed being. And he’s aware of it, that is why in his head he has always wanted to be a good parent. It is as if it’s less of a whim and more of a need for him to not make the same mistakes with his offspring, which is an opinion that a lot of people share. Beyond his crimes, he is portrayed as a person. Just a person. With urges and desires that in some way are common to what a lot of people feel.

Despite what he does about it, he still remains a character that manipulates you into thinking that everything he does is somehow valid. But no matter what he does to obtain or acquire the kind of love he wants, he is unsuccessful because at the end of the day too much friction can only cause breakage.

For entertainment purposes though, his stories are absolutely riveting and stimulating, not just because of how the show is doused with mystery and a dash of tragedy but also because of the belief that no misadventure can ever really bring out the Joe Goldberg in us, or can it?

Anjalika Tiwari

Delhi South '23

Anjalika is a student of Kamala Nehru College. She is an ardent believer of the fact that inspiration can be drawn from anything and everything. A dreamer at heart, forced into the pragmatic world, she encompasses an adequate amount of research as well as personal opinions in her articles.
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