Last December Netflix came to a series that is giving a lot to talk about: You. The series began to broadcast on the Lifetime channel. However, it was canceled shortly due to poor audience results. Its creators did not surrender and decided to leave it to Netflix, once there, the series has been seen by more than 40 million viewers and has been renewed for a second season (although it really does not need it).
You work a bit like one of those guilty pleasures that we refuse to admit and, deep down, we enjoy. We know that what we are seeing is not one of the best series of the season, but we can not avoid remaining stuck to the screen. In fact, the series contains many errors and greatly frivolizes the world of literature and studies dedicated to it. But it has an attractive and very addictive plot.
Why are you giving so much to talk about?
Unwittingly, it’s almost more terrifying than any scary movie or series. Its protagonist, Joe, is a charming man, an authentic blue prince who hides a terrifying truth. And, above all, is giving a lot to talk about to show us how vulnerable we are and the problems arising from an excess of exposure in social networks.
You adopt the format of the romantic comedy to subsequently destroy it. The boot follows the topic of girl meets boy in an unusual place, there is a lot of chemistry between them and, later, casual encounters will be repeated until the spark of love breaks. Only, in You, the meetings are anything but casual. As soon as the young Beck leaves the bookstore with a smile because she has met an attractive dependent, Joe is investigating his life and programming what his conquest will be like.
WARNING: the article contains spoilers.
You: a love story?
You present us with very different characters that, in some way, seek love. In turn, the idea of love and the way in which it manifests differs greatly from one character to another. Thus, we find characters looking for a way to love themselves, characters who want to fall in love and share their life with a partner, others who do not accept their homosexuality, etc.
In short, everything seems to revolve around the idea of love. An idea that, on the other hand, is abstract, complex and very subjective. For Joe, there are the arrows, believe in romantic stories, love at first sight … and end up forcing it to unsuspected limits. Meet Beck in his bookstore and already in that moment we realize that Joe is analyzing his target carefully, watching from the shadows as the predator that stalks his prey.
Joe does not have social networks, however, he controls Beck through them. He shows himself as a mysterious young man, different, somewhat lonely … A prototype that fits the complicated man, but fascinating enough; a man of dark past that only we can help. And, somehow, Joe does produce that fascination; He acts like the handsome gentleman that Disney wanted to sell us, the one who rescues us, listens to us and with whom we will live happily ever after.
But blue princes only exist in movies and Joe is just an appearance; behind his gallantry, an authentic stalker hides. Some viewers have confused Joe’s toxicity with true love. The actor who gives life to him, Penn Badgley, has been in charge of demystifying this idea and reminding us that his character is nothing other than a stalker.
Empathizing with Joe
In some way, by telling the story through the thoughts of its protagonist, a certain empathy has been generated with it. Or, rather, a certain desire that their plans can come to fruition. Joe investigates Beck and discovers that he has a very toxic relationship with a young man, Benji, who seems to use it. In turn, she discovers that her group of friends is also quite toxic and that Beck constantly strives to fit. Joe will devote himself to eliminating all the people who, in one way or another, hinder Beck’s life and the rise of Joe as the man of his life.
Beck’s life improves considerably when Benji disappears from her. Joe justifies his atrocious acts out of love, he does it for Beck’s sake and their relationship. He has murdered characters of dubious morality, therefore, it can not be bad.
Somehow, Joe manages to wrap us in his thoughts, make us believe that he has reasons to kill and that love can justify anything. At the same time, we see a certain side of humanity in him in his relationship with Paco. Paco is Joe’s neighbor, a boy who comes from a totally broken family: his mother is a drug addict and his stepfather is an abuser. Joe helps Paco enormously, gives him books and makes his life a little less sad.
This humanity contrasts enormously with the atrocity that we see in it. It makes us wonder how someone who looks so nice and shows feelings can be a real stalker. Joe worries excessively, becoming obsessed to such an extent that he believes that his duty is to intervene and do anything so that those he cares about are happy. Although that happiness is also subjective, it is your own point of view of what should make others happy.
You and the exhibition in the information age
Beyond approaching Joe, trying to understand the complexity of his thoughts, You proposes something really frightening: anyone can be susceptible to being harassed and anyone, at the same time, can become a stalker. In a world in which we publish our lives on networks, it is not very difficult to get an idea of the places a person frequents, their tastes, their surroundings … Therefore, it is increasingly easy to be the victim of a predator like Joe.
If we add that Beck is a pretty insecure girl, who seeks the approval of others, who has economic and family problems … Right away, we realize that it is the perfect goal. There is no longer privacy. And although the image we project on networks differs from reality (we are not going to upload a photo in which we leave ugly, sad or bored), the truth is that we leave too much information susceptible to being stolen and used against us.
In addition, the line between love and obsession becomes even finer. Who has not stalked once? Who has not discovered unexpected things from someone through the internet? The information is closer than ever and is too tempting to resist.
Beck herself begins to investigate Joe’s past as soon as he begins to doubt him. Are Joe and Beck so different? The difference is that Joe goes from being a mere observer to someone who uses that information to achieve his goal. He knows his tastes, his surroundings, he pretends a casual encounter and begins his conquest.
With the power of information, he knows what to say at every moment so that Beck falls into his networks. But the obsession is dangerous and Joe crosses that thin line, becoming the stalker we see on the screen. Due to the similarities with our own reality, You becomes a terrifying series that immediately leads us to rethink the content we share. At the same time, dismantle the romantic ideal of cinema, proving that this prince can be, at the same time, the one who destroys your life.