Let’s Talk About 'You'

“You” is one of Netflix’s rising shows that has recently been renewed for a second season. And why wouldn’t it be? It stars the renowned Penn Badgley who played Dan Humphrey in the iconic show “Gossip Girl”.

In “You,” Badgley plays Joe Goldberg, the manager of a small bookstore in New York called Mooney’s. He seems to be very simple and charming on the surface. However, after a few minutes, you begin to notice that he exudes Ted Bundy vibes, which unfortunately Elizabeth Lail’s character Beck can’t seem to pick up on until the very last moment.

There are parallels between Joe Goldberg and Dan Humphrey. And not in a flattering way.

“Gossip Girl” spoilers ahead!

If you were patient enough to suffer through all six seasons of “Gossip Girl,” then you know in the finale it was revealed that Dan was, in fact, the notorious gossip girl and that he ends up with his on/off girlfriend Serena van der Woodsen. You also know that while Dan played gossip girl, he stalked Serena, did his best to isolate her from anyone else as well as other toxic things.

In an interview with The New York Times, Badgley actually recognized the commonalities between Joe and Dan. He said that he’s “come to recognize how much of this is a surreal progression of Dan Humphrey.” (You should totally check out that interview here.)

What I’m most worried about, however, is the type of impact that a show like this could have on impressionable viewers. The “Stranger Things” star Millie Bobby Brown is an example of what could happen.

In a series of posts to her Instagram story, Brown talks about how she just started “You” and is “obsessed.” She says that Joe is “not creepy, he’s in love with her and it’s okay.” And she attempts to address the potential backlash to her video by stating that “by the way I know everybody’s gonna say ‘awe he’s a stalker why would you support that,’ like no he’s in love with her and it’s just like watch the show…”

Spoiler alert, it’s not okay. And I hope that she has finished the show.

But don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame Brown for what she said. We live in a society where toxic relationships and abuse are romanticized in movies, books and tv shows. Where plenty of children grow up being told that they can rehabilitate their significant other and single-handedly fix their toxic relationship.

I find it terrifying that there were times when I was watching “You” and I found myself wishing that I had someone who cared about me like Joe. That’s the thing though. Joe didn’t actually care about Beck. He didn’t love her. He just wanted control over her.

So when I finished “You,” I took a step back and reminded myself what a healthy relationship looked like. A healthy relationship is not reading your significant other’s texts or emails, nor having those things forwarded to you. A healthy relationship is not trying to isolate your significant other under the guise of “protecting” them. A healthy relationship is most definitely not locking your significant other in a glass box meant to preserve old books.

If you are experiencing a toxic or abusive relationship, I fully urge you to seek help.

Domestic Violence Network Hotline: 816-995-1000

Hope House: 816-461-HOPE (4673)

Kansas City Anti-Violence Project: (816) 561-0550