“You” offers an ironic look into the world of a monster

“You” offers an ironic look into the world of a monster

“You” offers an ironic look into the world of a monster
January 26
19:06 2019

What does falling in love, stalking and murder have in common? They can both be rationalized by the same person committing them. For bookstore manager, Joe, played by Penn Badgley, getting someone to fall in love with you requires both of those qualities. 

In the television adaptation of the 2014 Caroline Kepnes novel, “You,” developed by “Riverdale” executive producer Greg Berlanti and “Supernatural” executive producer Sera Gamble, Joe Goldberg meets aspiring writer Guinevere “Beck,” played by Elizabeth Lail, in his bookstore and a small infatuation almost instantly develops into an obsession.

“You” gives an intimate and satirical look into Joe and the deep rationalizations he develops when it comes to Beck. Through Joe’s dominant dialogue of his inner thoughts, we see a side that is not typically associated with serial killers today because we focus on the crime rather than the manipulation and charisma.

Not that this is meant to generate some sympathy, but it definitely shined a light on how easy it is to romanticize killers. Badgley’s performance as Joe at some moments reminded me of the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy and how at the time of his murder trial in the mid to late 70s, women defended him and cited how he didn’t “look like” someone who was capable of rape and murder. Introducing some parts of Joe’s gruesome lifestyle, which includes his soundproof lair, emphasizes the notion that people who are capable of such acts hide in plain sight.

The calm quality given to the stalker and killer gives leeway to the damsel in distress/naive nature of Beck but ultimately brought an easy flow as far as the chain of events within the show. This comes into play whenever you see his obsession with not only Beck but also anyone who is close to her and getting whomever out of her life one way or another. Even when it comes to Beck’s best friend and the one who was the most skeptical towards Joe, Peach, played by Shay Mitchell, and his willingness to reach a level that nearly gets him caught.

Joe’s risky behavior and obvious close calls show that he knows the amount of trouble that he could potentially be in for getting caught, but refuses to account for this because of love and a hidden desire to make Beck love him even when the goal isn’t in sight or merely in his fantasies.

The chemistry between the actors enhances the script as well as bring the characters to life. Likewise, the show didn’t have the cliche need to fill in the gaps to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat, rather they relied on Joe’s narrative, clean character development and present-tense storytelling to keep the show alive. However, my initial appeals of the show started to diminish when they tried to normalize the entire nature of what was happening within the show and brought Beck and Joe back after their initial breakup in the name of “adding spice.”

One thing that was well-worked into the show was social media and the internet and how it was used by Joe to get an upper hand on Beck. This combined with the known methods of stalking (watching from the outside of the window, following, etc.) made the show that much more modern and appropriate. 

Featured Image: “You” Courtesy Facebook. 

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Jasmine Hicks

Jasmine Hicks

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