The Psychology Behind “You”

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If you’ve watched the latest Netflix hit, you know how easy it is to fall for the mind tricks that force the average person to root for a psychopath. “You,” provokes something inside of us to root for the protagonist, even though he is much too creepy and morbid. Based on the book series “You,” the show entails the main character, Joe, who starts stalking a girl, Beck, he meets in a bookstore. He then begins manipulating things and people in her life to get closer to her, and eventually get her to be his girlfriend. Things don’t always end as we hope, though.

From the beginning, the audience knows something is off because he’s literally stalking this girl. We know right away that this character is not one that we should like, come to find out 3 episodes in, the average viewer begins wanting him to get the girl until he or she snaps herself out of it and remember the person that you were just rooting for. Joe is an anti-hero, and although he commits many unmoral actions, like murder, kidnapping, stalking, etc., we still see ourselves justifying his actions. He is fully unaware that what he is doing is wrong, he thinks he is helping people, especially believes he is protecting Beck. So while we subconsciously know that he is a terrible person, we begin believing maybe he’ll get better because he is a good person underneath, we can see that, and he believes he is doing good in the world. According to Daily Collegian, “We want to see people who don’t behave correctly, who don’t always make the good decisions because it’s realistic. As people, we realize no one is perfect, so we can see through the characters’ flaws.” We almost sympathize with characters like this because we see that they are really just normal people, but their flaws make them more relatable. Even if Joe’s flaw is that he kills people, he is somewhat relatable because everyone has flaws, his flaws are just more hardcore.

According to MammaMia, “YOU explores how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation online and in real life.” This is very true, especially in Beck’s case, because she had no idea, and he was her boyfriend. The series really makes you feel that, and almost forces you to rethink the people in your life, and question if this may have happened to you. The chances are unlikely, being so young, but the series has the power to make you think and feel like this.

Movies and film in general, have tricks to make the audience root for the guy that they want you to root for, which may not be what you feel is right. Joe, outside of his psychopathy, is a very charming guy, and if you didn’t know he was a little crazy, he seems like a great boyfriend to both Beck and Karen by the way he treats them. According to CRACKED, one of these tricks is to give a villain a classy hobby. Using this method, and making Joe’s hobby delicate and careful like fixing books and managing a bookstore, helps contrast to his insane actions and make him a more likable character.

I don’t want to say that the show isn’t good, it was well put together and the actors were great, but as I watched the show, I felt sick. The concept that Joe, or any guy, would kill people or stalk girls just to get what he wants, and the fact that he sees no problem with it, really gets to me. The scariest part of the series is the fact that Beck had no idea, almost the entire time they were together, about anything that Joe had done to make their relationship happen. This proves how easy it is for other people (not necessarily stalkers, but just bad, toxic people) to slip into your life.