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Beauty and the Beast within Netflix’s approach to darker themes

With the buzz surrounding 13 Reasons Why and You, Netflix have done exceedingly well with their Original series. This exclusive content is likely to be a contributing factor to their 139-million paid subscriptions. Their popularity clearly shows there is an audience there for the content they present, also demonstrated by the incredible responses they’ve received on social media. As a Netflix fan myself, who doesn’t tend to dabble in the darker themes (preferring light-hearted content), this got me thinking why these series have become so popular and have created international discussions?


If you haven’t seen either of these programs, please do. Despite controversy sparked by their glamorised appearance, both shows tackle serious issues in modern day environments. 13 Reasons Why covers suicide, rape and other violent content, raising awareness around such horrific, but unfortunately very real experiences. Selena Gomez, executive producer, admitted that despite such content, the show intended to shock the younger generation, to help them understand the impact of individual actions and the damaging effects of social media. Likewise You, follows the character Joe Goldberg, who uses social media to obsess, stalk and ultimately murder multiple figures in the show. Unfortunately, some people are still being tricked by surface appearances, as Penn Badgley disapprovingly responds to viewers’ tweets, who continue to romanticise his character:

Should such views serve as a warning? Are we as a society so invested in aesthetics that we have somewhat lost a sense of the disturbing behaviour which pervades everyday life, and just who can be capable of such activity? I think both the directors of 13 Reasons and You successfully comment on modern society through their seamless cinematography and attractive cast. For me, it sends the message that not all is as it seems, revealing the darker nature of society, which is sometimes hidden by a certain aesthetic, contributed to by social media.

You need only look at the controversy sparked by the up-and-coming Ted Bundy film – Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile – another Netflix film, to see how easily we’re deceived by figures who don’t fit our negative stereotypes.  





Brianna Croughan

Nottingham '19

3rd year student, Studying English at the University of Nottingham.
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