Disturbing and seductive: the Netflix series YOU


Image from Pixabay

Shelby Russell, Staff writer

Darkness can come packaged in beautiful containers. But what happens when it gets revealed? 

You is a popular Netflix series, based on books by Caroline Kepnes. The series follows the story of the charismatically smart main character, Joe. He is looking for love, which is easy for him to find, and he falls in love with a new girl every time he turns a corner. While he is smart, charming, and always seems to understand everyone to their core, he is also manipulative and violent—willing to do anything to protect the person he loves.  

First, a little character description: Joe is highly intelligent, and he seems like the perfect guy, but as the season progresses, we get to see Joe’s obvious mental issues on screen. He has many different traits of varying disorders, but he hasn’t been directly diagnosed with them, with the exception of one. The disorders include narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and erotomania. Erotomania is a mental illness characterized by a delusion in which a person believes that another person is in love with them. This mental illness is clearly represented throughout the running of the entire show. 

It seems that Kepnes has created a character that viewers can’t get enough of. Released in September 9, 2018, You reached over 40 million views within the first four weeks. After the first season was released, fans quickly asked for a second season. According to the Netflix’s public ranking system, You is the most popular show on its streaming service currently. The show’s writer, Caroline Kepnes, is a New York Times bestselling author and graduate of Brown University. She has written eight books, four of them being a part of the You series. 

–Spoiler alert– 

The first season was based in New York, with Joe working at a bookstore that his mentor (Mr. Mooney) owns, when in walks Beck, a carefree writer who just wants people to like her work. Of course, Joe quickly notices her and goes into an inner monologue, which he does throughout the entire series. They have a quick but connecting exchange, which leaves Joe star-struck, as he quickly becomes unhealthily obsessed. After some stalking, Joe identifies the people in Beck’s life who are bad for her, and he wants to fix it.  

Now by fix it, I mean he murders them. Yes, you read that right. Joe does not like to leave any stone unturned, so he permanently gets rid of them. His first kill is Benji, Beck’s half-boyfriend (to be completely transparent, I am still not exactly sure what he is to her). This is the first time that we see Joe’s dark side come out.  

His character is complex because when he does these things, it’s like he knows that it is wrong but excuses it because he is doing it for the person he loves (which in this case would be Beck).  

Although the series follows the book well, there are some noticeable differences:

~In the series, Joe has an almost father-like relationship with his neighbor’s kid, Paco. Joe takes Paco under his wing because Paco’s mother is in an abusive relationship. In the book, however, Paco’s character does not exist, which leaves a prevalent storyline missing from the book.  

~In the book he is also obsessed with typewriters, but they are only mentioned/seen once in the series.   

~Some of the ways he gets rid of people are also different, such as Beck’s friend Peach, who is written as a conniving, shallow girl who is obsessed with Beck. Joe sees her as a problem, so he takes her out on a beach, but in the book, he gets rid of her at her vacation house. However, in both the show and the book, he tries to make it appear that Peach did it to herself.  

~In the book, Dr. Nicky (Beck’s therapist) is just as obsessed with Beck as Joe is, but in the show he’s just a guy that Beck is cheating on Joe with.  

Overall, however, the book and the series are more similar than different. You always keeps you guessing: the more Joe gets away with his dangerous and deadly actions, the more viewers want to see what happens next. Some viewers want him to get caught, and others—like his victims—are too enamored of him. 

Viewer discretion advised: YOU on Netflix is rated TV-MA for language, sex, and violence. Suggested viewer age is 17 years and up.