So I just watched the pilot of the Netflix Original “You”.
At first I was worried because I don’t mess with horror or pay to get scared but my friends highly recommended it so I thought I’d give it a try.
If you know anything about me you know that I am enthralled with the concept of “love” and how that manifests can be from rooting for two celebrities to be together (Niley forever) or in my consumption of romcoms.
So going into the series I was intrigued by the protagonist being not only a man but a fellow lover of the genre as well.
I do wanna say that not every male who enjoys romantic movies including romantic comedies are secretly stalkers who obsess over strangers but within seeing the first episode I felt it did a great job of building up who Joe is and why he has his worldview.
Who is Joe?
Joe Goldberg is a bookstore employee born & bred in New York City.
He loves both his job & the books in the store.
He believes in the concept of ‘the one’.
He left NYC for a bit to follow a girl who broke his heart & “really did a number” on him.
And what is his worldview?
It’s a twisted take on chivalry which mutates into believing that he knows best for his love interest and that the best way to protect her is to manipulate her surroundings so they can be together.
Now what has shaped his worldview?
The most obvious answer is film, when he first encounters Guinevere Beck, the female lead, he thinks to himself “If this was movie I’d grab you and we’d go at it” showing that media has colored his viewpoint and that he’s not grounded in reality.
But more subtly the books themselves play a part.
In a flashback the owner of the bookstore is explaining to Joe how & why the older, more precious books should be treated with care.
This is most clearly shown when Joe says, “The first step to fixing something is to know no matter how destroyed it seems it can always be saved” as he’s literally fixing the spine of Don Quixote.
What I really liked about this show is that Joe isn’t a monster right out of the gate but instead he’s a charming, good looking social individual.
There’s a great scene where he gives his dinner to Paco, a kid that he knows is from an abusive household. Joe has fostered a kinship with this kid through his love of books and even takes him to where the good books are in the bookstore.
He’s observant which is shown through him noticing the browsing habits of the customers that comes through the door of the bookstore he works at.
That’s not to say that his assumptions are always correct the series shows early on that he does a lot of projecting.
When he notices Beck’s bracelets he believes she wears them to get noticed and throughout this episode he repeatedly says that she “people to see” her or “wants him to notice” when in actuality she’s just living out her day.
What I felt was fascinating though was that not every encounter between Beck & Joe was fabricated.
The catalyst into them eventually bonding was fate in a way.
After Joe stalks her through her social media sites and later practically breaks into her house through deception he learns that she’s going to Greenpoint.
As she drunkenly flounders through her poetry at the open mic event she ends up at a subway platform that Joe is also at.
And he literally saves her life when she falls on the subway tracks.
What happens next is a nice subversion of the romcom genre instead of a loving embrace she instead pukes on him then after sharing a cab ride home their longing stares into each others eyes is interrupted by Benji, a guy she’s been off and on sleeping with.
I’m excited to see what’s next for the series and how these characters play out.
If you love romantic movies & music it’s a clever take on the genre and how if there’s not mutual attraction and honored boundaries these tropes can easily be terrifying.