By Cicely McFarlane
Dark thrillers have stormed Netflix over the past year or so, it is the obsession from the viewers that gives this genre such high expectations.
‘You’ follows the story of Joe Goldberg, who through falling in love with various female leads, becomes besotted to the point of obsession. As we follow Joe’s narration throughout season two you once again hear how it is his overwhelming sense of what he describes to be “love”, that drives him to do anything to protect the women he fixates on. Like kidnapping and various murders. What made so many people, around 40 million, binge this series released on Boxing Day 2019, was the clever depiction of Joe. Clearly, when watching the show, you understand that he is a murderer with huge physiological issues, yet why were so many viewers tricked into rooting for him? It was the intellect of the writers who made the character use the manipulative tactics that he applied in everyday life, on the audience watching, this tricked the viewers into supporting someone who is unmistakably bad.
With season one following Joe’s obsession with Guinevere Beck, season two sees him find a new love, named Love. She much like Beck, Love encapsulates all that Joe wanted in a partner. It is Joe’s justification for his actions that make this show so interesting, it highlights the manipulation relationships can entail and puts a huge amount of emphasis on toxic traits. The show identifies the thin line between the justification for acts in the name of love and acts due to obsession. As you learn more about Joe, who after stealing an identity to move to L.A is now named Will Bettelheim, you hear his side of the story. You learn about the abusive and tragic events in his childhood that clearly caused physiological trauma. The writers show Joe’s story, and highlight the victim he was as a child, this now influences the audience to feel bad for Joe; even though as a functioning adult he is still committing acts of evil. It is his good looking and charming nature that reminds me of the American serial killer Ted Bundy. When evidence of wrongdoing and harm are presented to people, they found it challenging to believe it, as this attractive and charismatic person stood before them. Many just see what they want to believe, thus ignoring physical evidence or red flags due to the persona the manipulator puts out.
Unlike season one, Joe himself identifies his behaviour as unhealthy and thus tries to change it, and in episode one, you believe he has moved on and is attempting to live a healthy life. Yet the twists at the end of the episode show that his behaviour is no different from before, showing how everyday people can trick you into thinking they are something or someone they are not. But what is scarier, is when people who do inherently bad things continuously believe and try to justify that they are actually good.
Due to the mass online obsession with season two of ‘You’, and the cliff-hanger ending of Joe potentially finding another Love victim, season three has already been agreed upon. The clever messages from this season are interesting to analyse, the forefront one being the support the audience has for a serial killer. Online speculations have even decided the title of the show ‘You’, is also related to stalking, as when someone asks what have you been watching, and they reply “you”, they have essentially said they are “watching you”. Which of course is the whole premise of the show.
As a crime mini-series fan, I thoroughly enjoyed season two, yet was in awe how the writers achieved people to like the character Joe, highlighting the trait of manipulation in toxic relationships, and how easily people can always justify their actions in the name of love – and more importantly, be believed.