By Gianna Pulitano
Actor Penn Badgley aims to blur the lines between predator and romantic hero in the new Netflix series, “You.” Similar to his part as Dan Humphrey in “Gossip Girl,” Badgley takes on the role of Joe Goldberg, an outsider looking to find his way in the bustling streets of New York City. The show, which is based on author Caroline Kepnes’ book of the same title, depicts Joe as a quiet bookkeeper who will do whatever it takes to steal the heart of aspiring writer, Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail).
Beck, who only knows certain sides of him, views Joe as a breath of fresh air from the out-of-reach, elegant friends, dinner parties, handsy professors and boys who only stop by for 2 a.m. visits. The viewer witnesses a vastly different side of Joe as he follows through with his quest to be the most important person in Beck’s world. This eventually spirals him into a crusade for control over every aspect of her life, and he quickly turns from concerned boyfriend to overbearing stalker.
The story is told through Joe’s perspective, which is a feature that seems to cause viewers to sympathize for Joe and his obscure rationalizations. We learn so much about Joe through his monologues on his neglected childhood, caged upbringing and disloyal ex-girlfriend. As a viewer, you want to step in and stop the bricks in his life from piling up before they all come crumbling down.
Eventually, Beck’s rose-colored glasses come off and she is forced to confront Joe’s true self. As I sat on the edge of my seat, Netflix played a game of tug-a-war with my emotions, and I wondered which side of Joe was going to end the series. Joe’s personality was so complex that it was hard to predict his next move. After Beck realizes there’s more to Joe than meets the eye, her world begins to unravel.
The show jumps through a few quick cuts, which creates a feeling of rushed emotion. The action comes fast but the feelings hit strong. The suspense of the previous eight episodes leads viewers to a crucial point in the series –– but you’ll have to tune in for yourself to find out what happens.
The Netflix show was beautifully shot and each episode brings you to the edge of your seat. Joe’s detailed dialogue creates a closeness between himself and the viewer that is paralleled by what he is seeking from Beck.
Badgley’s voice was a perfect fit for a character like Joe as his dark tone holds mystery, threat and charm. Audience members find themselves torn about whether or not to like Joe. However, Badgley himself tweeted that those romanticizing Joe are all he needs as motivation for season two of the series.
The point of the series is not about transforming a villain into a hero, but about showing the world that a killer can be inside anyone. For those of you itching to read more into this type of theme, I would recommend reading the rest of the “You” series of which the Netflix show is based on. Season two is scheduled to drop sometime next fall.
In the meantime, the next time you fall in love in a bookstore, make sure that person can’t hack into your phone.