Netflix’s “You”: Glorifying stalkers?
Being on your own and living independently are big steps, especially when there are unfortunate statistics surrounding college-aged women being stalked. One in six women will be stalked in her lifetime, which makes “You” a troubling show to stomach.
The series starts off with a seemingly harmless introduction to our main protagonists: Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail), a graduate student who longs to be a writer, nicknamed Beck; and Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), a brooding bookstore manager. It’s your average flirtatious interaction: Beck and Joe relish in their shared cynicism of the world as Joe rings her up at the register.
What should have been a one-time interaction between the two transforms into a twisted and murderous obsession that can be called anything but love. From watching her masturbate through her apartment window to following her every single move, Joe begins aggressively stalking Beck’s life.
The irony is that by stalking Beck and killing some of her closest friends along the way, Joe sincerely believes he is helping Beck live her best life.
The scariest part of this series? Some of the responses from fans — most notably statements made by 14-year-old Millie Bobby Brown, of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” who received backlash for romanticizing Joe’s character.
“He’s not creepy, he’s in love with her and it’s ok. So I’m obsessed with it, I’m binge-watching it, absolute banger Netflix,” Brown said in an Instagram story, which was later deleted.
Coming from a prominent figure in the media, comments like Brown’s are especially troubling. However, Brown was not the only one to misinterpret Joe’s dangerous fixation on Beck as a quirky love story.
“Kidnap me pls,” a twitter user by the handle @MalikaPlays tweeted at Badgley.
Luckily, leading man Badgley has responsibly been shutting down comments like these, and replied with a swift “No thx.”
As funny and witty as some of Badgley’s responses are, it is important that fans realize that the show’s subject matter — though fictitious — is serious, and telling in regard to toxic relationships.
Peach (Shay Mitchell) is Beck’s privileged best friend, another harmful character in this thriller. She is praised for being sassy and telling Beck her honest opinions despite some underlying darker characteristics.
One Twitter user even wrote, “Peaches is goals.”
Mitchell recognizes the problematic nature of her character’s praises.
“I think they’re both sort of messed up to be honest with you. It’s just I did it in heels, you know?” Mitchell says.
“You” was interesting and very easy to binge. However, with shows that revolve around toxic relationships, stalking and murder, it is important to remember not to poeticize people like Joe.
Moral of the story: be wary of charming bookstore managers. And, in the wise words of Peach Salinger, “Male energy in my healing space just isn’t optimal.”