I love stalkers. Wait. Maybe that’s not the right thing to say. What I love is—obsession. The idea of it. The psychology of it. What drives a person to become fixated on another person to the point where they risk their freedom, their safety, their lives, to be closer to them? It goes against evolutionary instinct and yet, it is one of the strongest, all-encompassing, painful, euphoric, delightful, horrible things a person can engage in.
Love vs Obsession
I should be a little more specific about my views. Yes, I do love stalkers. I’m not lying about that. In fact, I’m writing a novel about one. I was one. Kind of. I never followed anyone home or broke into anyone’s house or anything like that, but I do sometimes become obsessed with the idea of a person. Notice I said the idea of a person and not a person. That’s one of the many things that separates love from obsession. When you love someone, you love them. You know their negative qualities and you love them anyway. When you are obsessed with someone, it’s less about them and more about what you want them to be. It’s about who they are in your mind. The portrait you’ve painted of them becomes what they are to you and that is what you are obsessed with. Not them. Not really.
Is Joe Really the Bad Guy?
Now, before I dive into this, a few disclaimers:
I know Joe is the bad guy. I’m not delusional I know stalking, murder, etc are evil activities to engage in. I know he is manipulative and encompasses all the “nice guy but really just projects his low self-esteem and jealousy onto women” tropes. Trust me, I understand. And I like his character anyway.
I just felt the need to say that because I saw a Twitter moment about wHy YoU sHoUldDn’T rOoT fOr jOe.
Like…duh, you fucking dingbat. He’s a murderer. In the first two minutes of the show he talks about how the object of his obsession “wanted this”—this being him following her around and watching her through her window. It clearly echoed what rapists say as excuses for their crimes. Joe is the bad guy of the story. That is clear, but he is also who we spend the most time with. He is the eyes through which we experience the story. The writers don’t want us to root for Joe, not really, but maybe they want us to understand how a person can do these heinous things.
A Bad Guy, But-
It’s a great exercise in seeing the limits of our empathy. Not only that, but even with all the stalking and murder, Joe is not completely evil. This is shown through his relationship with his neighbor Paco, an abused and neglected boy who Joe helps throughout the story. What I’m saying is that Joe has layers. There is nuance. Is he psychotic? Of course, but he also shows compassion. There are moments when we root for Joe even though we watch him commit horrible acts. Also, and I’m looking for the right way to phrase this, his obsession is one of the most endearing qualities about him. Let me explain that.
Stalkers in Other Movies
There’s this movie that not a lot of people have watched called Wicker Park. I don’t really blame you if you haven’t seen it. It’s a quiet, slow movie but it also has some gems in it—mainly in the character played by Rose Byrne, Alex. Alex, like Joe, is a stalker. Her object of obsession is Matt played by Josh Hartnett. I won’t give away too much of the story in case you do want to check it out, but Alex goes through the unthinkable to try to win Matt. She lies, she steals, she breaks up relationships, she turns world’s upside down all for her obsession. When Matt finally confronts Alex about all the chaos she’s caused, her response is something that has stuck with me for years.
“Love makes you do crazy things. Insane things. Things that in a million years, you’d never see yourself do, but there you are doing them. You can’t help it.”
What Obsession Does to You
That quote explained every Facebook stalk, every irrational hatred of a girlfriend, every obsession I ever had. If I had to guess, it would be the same for Joe. The only thing I’d change about Alex’s quote is the word “Love.” It’s not love. Like I said before, it’s obsession. It’s compulsion. It has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with you.
When you do this, you wrap all your hopes, your dreams, your energy, and yes, your love into another person, but you’re really not loving them. You love your idea of them.
Overall Thoughts on You
So yes, I loved You. I thought Joe’s character perfectly exemplified the darkest parts of obsession. And yes, I felt for him. The simple fact that most of the story is told from his point of view means that viewers should feel for him. If this show were about a simple run of the mill psychopath, it would have been told from Beck’s perspective. Instead, we get a view of a dark and twisted mind. An obsessed mind. A mind in love. A mind doing thing’s it never thought it would. I can’t wait to see what else Joe’s mind is willing to do. Bring on Season 2!
You can find You on Netflix or Lifetime.
Watch the trailer here.
Want more TV Show reviews? Read my review of The Haunting of Hill House.
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