You Like ‘You’ – What’s The Matter With You? Hmm….K?
Unless you are living under a rock or are basically Tony Stark floating in the blank space, it is highly improbable that you might not have come across something to do with Netflix’s ‘You’. For most of us belonging to the social media age and working within the ‘content creation and connection’ paradigm, ‘You’ came around with a hallelujah for all the things we fear could happen to us.
A sapiosexual nerdy unpredictable stalker Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) meets a vulnerable unsure emotional wreck of a girl Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) and thus start their creepy, sexually charged and dramatically explored love story. ‘You’ feels like someone sat down and wrote all the bullet points of the things which the Gen Z could desperately connect to, and made a master sheet of things they are afraid of.
What are these bullet points you ask? Social Media dependent self-validation and need-based friendships, the extent of obsessions and the creepy means to do what it takes, and much more. However, within all this, the point which is making the millennials connect to ‘You’ is the aspect that it is cringy. But frankly, the fact to be least appreciated about it is- The Stalker Syndrome.
Right from the first frame of the series, adapted from the 2014 thriller novel of the same name by Caroline Kepnes, we see Joe, a simple bookshop owner, set his eyes on Beck, who randomly walks into his shop. Then starts his obsession with her. Joe starts with literally checking her out on Instagram, finding about her likes and dislikes through Facebook, about her social party-animal friends from Snapchat, and where she lives and what she does from Google. Conveniently though, (but later justified), all of Beck’s social media accounts are visible and public.
Meet Beck. Beck puts every single fucking moment of her day on Instagram. Beck does all those dog mask filter thingies on Snapchat because its #fun. Beck fills her Facebook profile with all the things she doesn’t have to. Beck is an easy target. Add to that, Beck is the cutest lead Netflix’s ever had (since Hannah Baker that is). Don’t be like Beck.
Anyway, so yeah, her whole existence and life circle are easily discovered by Joe. Then the challenge of luring her into his web of sexual affection comes. Joe is the kinda guy your mama asked you to stay away from. He is creepy and calm while being learned and full of charm. And so, as we progress through the series we see how Joe makes Beck fall for him, head over heels, and they enter into this symbiotic relationship. Joe lends the emotional glue to Beck, to reattach her broken childhood, her professional insecurities and inherent, for the want of a better word, dumbness. Joe, on the other hand, gets sex in exchange. Like most of our relationships, no?
What Exactly Works With ‘You’
Modern relationships are always about filling and completing each other. It is co-dependency that we all crave for. Of some sort. Short term, long term, whatever the fucking term. We live in a world where we come across ‘Platonic Sex’, ‘Transitional Making Out’, ‘Interim Relationships’ etc. If you haven’t heard, sensed, or seen these things happening around you, say hello to Tony Stark for me. ‘You’ explores these things brilliantly.
You see, in a classic ‘Stalker Saga’ where you know that the stalker, Joe, in this case, will get Beck eventually, and perhaps face some hurdles along the way, is the template of the eighties. But you know he’ll win. Because, well, stalkers are the most hard-working class of lovers to ever exist. Inherently you root for the hard-working class to win, even if he is morally wrong. That’s a different tangent altogether, so allow me to swing back to the topic at hand.
The twist in ‘You’ comes when we see that the vulnerable and emotionally broken Beck is kinda not what she seems to be. She’s not your damsel in distress, but one who’s got a thing for junky boyfriends with maximum dickery who end up treating her like shit, condescending and bitchy friends who only dabble within the circumference of first world problems, and professors and mentors who tend to make apparent advances on her. She’s got them all, and she’s cool with them all.
This is where the story starts to be interesting. She ain’t a damsel in distress, she is a bombshell out to impress. Well, in her defence, she’s entertaining these aspects because she wants to make it big as a writer and wants to feel successful even when there is no scope for it. You see, she’s superlatively compensating for everything shitty around her, by choosing something exponentially shittier. Ever had a breakup where you never knew why she left, maybe this could be the reason? Food for thought.
Beck and Joe represent what is perhaps the essence of our relationships. Today, and no I am not speaking from a high pedestal here, we usually pick our relationships based on availability and convenience, and not on admiration and compatibility. And someone please tell me, what the fuck is this ‘Platonic Sex’ thing.
Moving forward, we justify Beck’s insecurities with her daddy issues. And Joe’s creepy nature with his, wait.. he’s just a creep. Add to the mix, Beck’s slithering, self-absorbent narcissistic friend, Peach Salinger (Shay Mitchell). Peach is in love with an oblivious Beck. And therefore, presents the biggest hurdle for Joe to eliminate, which he does. Oh come on, that’s not a spoiler. If you don’t know how a stalker story works, well then, you, my friend are unequivocally You.
Stalking 101 – Aspire And Perspire
‘You’ is mostly shameless in its pursuit of telling about its characters. Note that most of Netflix’s shows these days are shameless and unflinching in what they show or mean. And that’s a good thing. You see, they are abiding by the most basic principle of storytelling – the more personal a story is, the more universal its appeal is.
Now then, when Joe literally jerks off to Beck’s Swimsuit picture, or when Beck’s masturbates when she doesn’t cum and her boyfriend leaves after he’s done, is basically us at our own most vulnerable self. Do you say you don’t masturbate or jerk off to the pictures of your Instagram crush on your feed? Sorry, Peter Pan, this article isn’t for you then, also why the fuck are you on Instagram again?
You are on Instagram to jerk off, either physically or psychologically, to enticing pictures of the girl who dumped you, or the guy who once talked to you, the girl you hardly know but fantasize, or the guy who your BFF was dating sometime back, or if you are hopelessly single then to watch dogs with their frowning expressions. This is the truth of not just Instagram, but of the social world we live in. Everything needs to be ‘jerk off worthy’. This simple understanding of how our world works splendidly for ‘You’. It comments, thrives, glorifies, abhors basically the very life we have and crave for and celebrates so often.
Was stalking not happening in the earlier ages? Of course, it was. Take any mythology and you’ll find hundreds of examples in them. There is a moral code, a thin veil between what is personal and impersonal, and we have blurred it many ages ago.
The first argument I hear is always that the society made me do this and that. No, it didn’t you fucked up coward. You chose to be whatever the crappy version of yourself you wanted to be. You could as well be detached from your phone in the loo, or you could choose to not be active on social media accounts, but no. You crave for social validation. Joe in ‘You’ represent the former option. He is a traditionally detached hermit, who can use social media to serve his own purpose, whilst Beck is this social media-driven woman. The glorious clash of these two worlds makes ‘You’ a series you need to watch and introspect to truly understand the brilliance of it.
At the end of it, one needs to watch ‘You’ for its social commentary and not its moral standpoint, because there is none. You will either find yourself in it or someone you know. Or in rare cases, you won’t see any relevance in it, and then find something truly original and compelling. All to say, you are in ‘You’ or you aren’t in ‘You’, and both these scenarios work great for the series. Don’t bring morals and ethics into this, because if you are, then your eligibility should be that of a Buddhist Celibate Monk. If not, then just zip up and cuddle up with your platonic girlfriend, and just binge watch Netflix’s ‘You’. Don’t think too much. You can’t handle it.