Netflix’s “You”: A Complicated Commentary

“You” is a great NetflixAffiliated thriller that follows a troubled man as he stalks an aspiring young writer. The show is a complicated yet interesting look at the mind of this deranged person.

At a glance, “You” seems fun but un-extraordinary. The raw outline of it is a shocking story scattered with twists and turns bound to keep its viewers on their toes.

Along with its general plot, the series involves interesting characters, each one with a diverse personality and layered stories of their own. Even better, all these characters live in New York, and the show runners use the setting’s density to give the audience the sense that anything could happen.

Despite all the positive aspects of “You,” it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. In “Riverdale,” for example, there’s a very similar sort of “modern thriller” vibe.

Another factor that detracts from “You” is its willingness to fall into common tropes and cliches. While watching, I felt there was a certain repetitiveness in many scenes, simply because near duplicates can be found on shows elsewhere.

So that’s what “You” looks like, in the broadest scope. But when placed under a critical magnifying glass, there is so much more to this popular thriller.

The most important thing about this show, the axis around which it all rotates, is the psychotic antihero, Joe Goldberg. From the opening scene, when Joe first lays eyes on Beck, the aforementioned writer, we are plunged head first into his perspective via narration. We are overwhelmed by this character, which, despite that phrases connotation, is a good thing.

What comes from being so consistently in the mind of this man is that we can’t help but identify with him; in fact, we become him, and as a result, fascinatingly, we begin to sympathize with the psychopath. Every terrible thing he does, we recognize as terrible, but in the back of our mind we think “Well he did it for love” or “maybe that guy deserved what he got.” This could be seen as a bad thing, after all, it’s normalizing murder and kidnapping. We are verifying everything that Joe does as OK. No matter how you view the pros and cons of this mindset we are given however, it is certainly impressive that we received it in the first place.

The writers of “You” created this feeling of sympathy on purpose. It’s no coincidence that we unconsciously justify everything that Joe does. The commiseration we feel with Joe is, in a way, the point of the show. It’s a commentary, it is proof that despite the subject matter of any story, even beyond “You,” our positive feelings inevitably gravitate toward the narrator, especially when, at a glance, that narrator is intelligent, caring and only a little insane.

Now that I have been given some space from “You” and become disconnected from Joe, I can think about the things he did over the course of the series, and they are terrible things. The reason I mention this is because I never had viewed his actions as so obviously bad while I was watching “You”, but I think that’s great. Like I said, I’m impressed, because for the two week span while I was watching the show, I was so immersed in its character and universe, and isn’t that all we want from anything fictional, to be sucked into that reality?

Overall, “You” is fantastic, but imperfect, and definitely worth the watch if you have a solid block of free time to reserve for the show.