Netflix’s “You” brewed a conflict in my mind

Lynlee Derrick

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With three exam reviews left and only a limited number of hours left in the day, I turned to my old friend for help: procrastination.

Bouncing between different classes and subjects, my mind demanded a break from verb conjugations and logarithmic functions. After my eyes blurred from bland boredom, I sought refuge from the teenage-beloved Netflix.

With just a single click to open the app, Netflix read my mind without warning and advertised their latest show named You. Entranced by the twisted and suspenseful cover frame, I scrolled no further. Skimming the summarized description provided, I knew I was in for a thrill.

The first episode, “Pilot,” introduces the main character played by Penn Badgley: Joe Goldberg. Joe, the manager of the bookstore, runs into a lady who, playing into the cliche, he deems as the love of his life. From a quick conversation that reeks of the NYC metropolis setting it takes place in, Joe develops a connection with this woman who goes by Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail).

In the following scene, the show soon takes a dive into its allotted genre of suspense; Goldberg can’t forget about Beck, and he doesn’t try. Instead, he becomes undeniably enamored with Beck and begins to stalk her. However, as the show relies heavily on the internal monologue of Goldberg, I began to feel for his character as he discussed past experiences, even as he was creeping on the “love of his life” (also known as a stranger to the rest of the normal population).

Following Beck is just the beginning. Referencing Penn Badgley’s earlier role as Dan Humphrey in Gossip Girl, he takes what his crush was on Serena from Gossip Girl a mile further in You, and it made my skin crawl like I was coated in spiders.

Doubling back to the internal monologue, the show uses the thoughts of Goldberg to say what he wouldn’t normally speak. From sarcastic responses to the narration of events often addressed to Beck, in Goldberg’s mind, he twists everyday mundane activities into advances that capture just how debauched his thinking truly is.

The most interesting aspect of his internal monologue—and the only good thing about it—is that it reveals Goldberg’s true relationship with other’s; whether it’s his obsession with Beck, hatred towards Beck’s “boyfriend” at the time, or the guilt he feels for his neighbor’s kid, it garnishes the script with an inventive look into Joe’s mind.

Moving from the narration, Goldberg’s obsession is immediately highlighted as the plot of the show. From saving Beck from off the subway train tracks to kidnapping her “boyfriend,” the show formulates Goldberg as someone to hate and love.

This contrast in just one character leaves me at war with my mind; should I like Goldberg? In just one episode, he’s done various things to help Beck, or should I hate him? Stalking someone is horrific, watching someone through their windows is far past the definition of creepy, and kidnapping is very much so illegal.

With such an interesting main character, I found myself putting down the pencil and tossing aside the exam reviews—which I know I will soon regret, so I’m sorry to all my teachers—and physically leaning forward as I watched.

The introduction of a handful of more characters spiced up the episodes to come. Having protective friends and family of Beck duel with Goldberg’s obsessive and warped mindset created an interesting plot line that was easy to follow in the best way. Despite the many surprises that came with each character, You was able to double down on its main focus while adding in mystery, intrigue, and tension with every blink of the eye.

You demonstrates a masterful story, albeit a harrowing one, that at times was difficult for me to keep my blinds open during. It made me question who I was truly rooting for and kept me waiting for the next turn on its twisted path.