Having taken the internet by storm since its UK release, Netflix’s original series You is an easy to watch, ever so slightly trashy thriller based on the novel by Caroline Kepnes.
“You is tantalisingly engrossing”
You tells the story of Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), a bookstore manager from New York who instantly falls in love with customer and student Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail). But this is not a typical romance, Joe’s obsession for Beck becomes more and more dysfunctional and dangerous as time goes by, leading to a hot mess of secrecy, stalking and murder. As Beck’s friends become increasingly suspicious of Joe’s behaviour, his paranoia rockets and his violent behaviour escalates.
“Badgley’s charismatic performance leads the audience astray in their moral judgement”
The romanticisation of Joe’s character is indeed problematic. Badgely himself has recognised this, taking to Twitter to reply to fans’ inappropriate comments on his character. However, his charisma as a psychopathic villain illuminates the danger of such figures. The series gives the audience an intimate and eye-opening insight into Joe’s life and psyche, tracking his every move and thought.
In particular, Joe’s affectionate behaviour towards Paco, whose step-father is physically and emotional abusive to him and his mother, makes us question his inherently evil behaviour. On the other hand, whilst the audience hear Joe’s reasons and justifications for his actions, we are still aware that they are wrong, shocking and dysfunctional. Therefore, we must be trusted as viewers to recognise the issues posed by his character.
One thing I will warn you about this show, it is very addictive. Luckily, now exams and deadlines are over you can indulge in a binge without feeling too guilty about it. Full of twists and turns, jumpy scenes and times which will have you screaming at the screen due to Beck’s idiocy, You is tantalisingly engrossing. Although at times the writing is a little bit predictable and repetitive, the clever characterisation of Joe’s character will leave you horrified whilst also intrigued to see more. Like Dexter from the self-titled TV series, Joe is a somewhat likeable villain. As much as you want to hate him, Badgley’s charismatic performance leads the audience astray in their moral judgement.
“We should be focusing on raising awareness about the nature of such murderers”
The debate surrounding the romanticisation of serial killers has become even more heated with the release of the trailer for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron as the renowned American rapist and murderer Ted Bundy. Some viewers are concerned about Efron’s performance, whereas others have pointed out that such viewers are simply missing the point. The fact that Bundy appeared to be attractive, intelligent and charming is what allowed him to lure his victims. Perhaps instead, we should be focusing on raising awareness about the nature of such murderers, whilst commemorating the lives of the victims sensitively.
If you’re looking to be intellectually stimulated or challenged, this is not the series for you (unintentional pun). But if you’re looking for an easy, enjoyable and thrilling watch, I would recommend You despite its flaws. Ending on a cliff-hanger and with a second series on the way, You is undeniably a crowd pleaser in many ways.
Featured image courtesy of Netlix via Facebook.