We all know about the character trope of the “good guy” that popular side com characters play such as Ross Geller from ‘friends’ and Ted Mosby from ‘how I met your mother’, who is known for getting the girl in the end by doing everything they can even though they have caused devastating hurt to the said girl. Well, what if I tell you, Joe Goldberg, from the popular Netflix show ‘You’, is practically the same person, who will do anything in his power to get the person he claims to love, just in a different genre?
First of all, let’s look at their character work; he a caring yet obsessive psychopath who claims that he will do about anything (even kill) for the one he loves, but in turn, he ends up hurting the person he is so desperately obsessed with. In season 3, the writer officially established he has “mommy issues” and is typically attracted to pure women he thinks to resemble his mother’s personality. But as soon as he finds out that they aren’t as innocent as he made them out to be, he loses those feelings just like he did for (spoiler alert) Love Quinn in season 3 when he finds out she is killing people as well. He is the embodiment of all toxic traits; he manipulates people into falling in love with him, expects them to accept him for who he is but refuses to get the other person for who they are (even when they are doing precisely the same things he did), and most importantly: KILLS. All that to say, he is written to be charming, and his actions have gotten better in the past season and is honestly still one of my favorite characters from the show. But several people hate his actions and say he doesn’t deserve to be in a happy relationship: which is fair; I mean, if you met someone like him in real life, AAAA… Run! But out in TV land, few of the most famous and loved characters that people think deserved to end up in a happy relationship aren’t much different from the toxic psychopath the audience claims Joe is. So, Let’s compare Joe’s personality traits with Ross’s. Ross Geller had a crush on Rachel Green since high school and was obsessed with her; if Friends had been set in a more thriller genre, he would be keeping a box of her intimate things as well. Ross was happily dating someone else when he found out Rachel had feelings for him and just threw his relationship out the window and kissed Rachel without breaking up with his girlfriend at the time; not much better than Joe kissing Marienne at the library while he was still married.
Some people think that was justified because, well, “it’s Rachel”. Okay, let’s have it be, but after he finally got Rachel, he projected his insecurities on her and thought she was cheating on him and then actually ended up cheating on her himself. In the end, he was also the one who stopped her from going to Paris for a job, granted hilariously that he was responsible for that job offer. Still, she was excited for it nevertheless, and he waited to talk to her all this time and made her give up Paris to be with him. Manipulation, infidelity, lying, obsessive behavior… Sound familiar? Let’s move on to Ted Mosby from one of my all-time favorite shows: How I Met Your Mother. We as humans all have different opinions about most things, but if there are two things we as a human species can agree on as far as entertainment goes, it would be that 1. There WAS enough room for Jack on the door in Titanic and 2. How I Met Your Mother’s final episode was one of the worst endings to a show.
But let’s go way back, to the very first few seasons, Robin had made it clear that she doesn’t ever want kids and was not looking to settle down anytime soon during the first several seasons, despite Ted telling her he loved her on their first date; he even stalked Robin in the beginning of the first season where he “accidentally bumped” into her where she was covering the news, lied about the parties and got her to come to his place. That is exactly what Joe did in a different genre. Ted also cheated on his long-distance girlfriend with Robin by lying to her and telling her he was single. He was in love with his best friend’s wife to be all of the last two seasons. To his credit, he did plan on leaving the city because of it but then didn’t because he met ‘the mother’ who died because she got sick. The whole point of the show and the story was for him to romanticize his relationship with Robin to get his kid’s approval to date, Robin again. Cheating, lying, manipulating, stalking… see the pattern yet?
I am not saying liking any of these characters is a bad thing. These shows have been years in making, and appreciating the creators’ work by rooting for the fictional characters is just fine, but humouring a different perspective is always a fun time for your creative senses.