Netflix series “You” sparks dark fantasy in viewers

This crime-romance drama, though superb in thrill with its intricate plot line, is incredibly twisted.


Screenshot by Kacey Connolly

Kacey Connolly, Writer

What is it about an unruly male persona that tempts the female mind so strongly? Why is there such an allure to those who deviate from the norm with sinister intentions?

It isn’t an uncommon occurrence for women to find themselves attracted to a “bad boy” here and there. From the stereotypical relationship between a good girl and a scruffy, baggy-pants-wearing high school trouble maker, to the hundreds of women who sent love letters to notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, it’s clear that some of us have quite a thing for a rebel.

However, I sometimes wonder if the media has gone too far romanticizing these men. It’s not like Tim Riggins from “Friday Night Lights” was a particularly good guy, and I’m pretty sure Damon Salvatore from “The Vampire Diaries” murdered hundreds of innocent people. Yet for some reason, young girls adore these men—including myself.

In the past few years, Netflix has skyrocketed their business through multiple originally-produced series, the newest of them being the intriguing and edgy romance-crime drama “You,” (originally a Lifetime drama).

With Penn Badgley (formerly good guy Dan Humphries in the popular show “Gossip Girl”) as main character Joe Goldberg and Elizabeth Lail as Guinevere Beck,  often referred to as just “Beck,” the show creates a story line between two introverted intellectuals who share a common interest in literature.

On the surface, the plot of “You” seems like a straight shot for a romantic show about two lovers who obviously see past the materialism in life, connecting on “deeper levels” as they sip espresso in artsy coffee shops and write in leather-bound notebooks. This series could have been all of these things, but instead, creators Greg Berlanti and Sera Gamble made the seemingly sweet and innocent Joe Goldberg into a manipulative stalking serial killer.

What struck me most about this series wasn’t the creepiness of Goldberg or the shocking fear that there could possibly be men exactly like him out there, but the feedback from the many girls who tuned in.

Thousands of tweets from various girls swept through Twitter days after the series aired, all rich with not only praise but pure attraction for Joe Goldberg. Of course danger has its appeal, but this guy goes well beyond average creepiness. He embodies the most evil characteristics of stalkers, psychos and murderers.

In a Reddit chat room, I came across a conversation that began with the question, “How do you guys feel about Joe as a character?” Now, I’m not saying there weren’t any rational people who agreed that the guy is absolute bad news. Many girls sided with that notion. However, more responses were the polar opposite.

One Reddit replied, “I found him to be a realistic and somewhat likable character. I’ve met some dudes who are pretty much exactly like Joe.” I’m not entirely sure which parts of murder and manipulation are likable, or what men this person has come across in life, but others seemed to relate.

Another reply said, “I like Joe! Everyone is saying he’s a bad and selfish person because he didn’t kill for Beck but for himself. But remember the day he finally let go of Beck? Is it selfishness?” This sends a great message to ladies all over: if you’re significant other is killing people, but claims it’s “all for you,” there’s no reason to be upset! He’s really just a good guy at heart!

Badgley himself has even spoken out against the many remarks about his character via Twitter replies to fans. In a comedic video on Instagram, the actor also recorded himself waking up emotional due to his achievement of one million followers, but ended it reprimanding his audience by saying, “all it took was for me to start murdering people.”

The point is, nobody should be attracted to Joe besides Beck—everyone else blind to his psychotic side. Beck has the excuse that every fan of the show doesn’t get: she is unaware of his side job as a stalker and killer. Every sweet, romantic gesture Joe makes for Beck turns out to be fake. Beck never chose to love him—he manipulated the idea into her life.

It’s obvious that the grandeur of a bad boy sparks almost every female’s darkest interests. But the difference between Joe Goldberg and men like Tim Riggins and Damon Salvatore are that the others changed for the better because of who they loved. Riggins wasn’t a player after he met Lyla Garrity and Salvatore became a good man because of Elena Gilbert. Beck never changes Joe for the better—she actually just provokes his insanity.

Email Kacey at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @kaceyconnolly1.

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