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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

New Netflix show keeps viewers conflicted

Keagan+Miller+says+%26%238220%3BYou%26%238221%3B+explores+the+pathology+of+a+stalker.
Photo by Creative Commons

Keagan Miller says “You” explores the pathology of a stalker.

The first episode of “You” opens with a voice-over. The main character starts talking directly to the audience. Right off the bat, this left a bad impression.
Extended voice-overs are typically a big no-no when it comes to television and film. As a rule, it’s better to show than to tell. As the opening scene progressed I grew more and more disdainful of the main character, Joe, and the show in general. Joe spouts pseudo-intellectual nonsense, arrogantly talking about books and romance in a way that made me want to slap him.
From the very first scene, I was ready to hate the show. But then something crazy happened. It was quickly revealed that Joe is a stalker. From that moment on, I looked at the show in a completely different light. It doesn’t condone Joe’s self-involved ramblings, it condemns them. Immediately, I went from rolling my eyes to sitting in rapt attention. The show is an exploration of the pathology of a stalker.
Viewed in this light, everything I originally hated about the show becomes brilliant. Joe’s hopeless self-obsession, the way he incessantly talks to the audience or to the woman he’s stalking in his head, and the subtle creepy undertones that seep from actor Penn Badgley’s performance all serve the show in almost unimaginable ways. I went into the show already hating it, and within minutes it had maneuvered itself in such a way seemingly pitted my hatred and disdain against me.
“You” counts on its audience to feel uneasy around its main character. It introduces him as a hopeless romantic, and even allows you to believe that for a while. The entire show is viewed through his perspective, his inner voice, the narrator. As such, Joe the stalker almost seems relatable and almost… almost likeable. But whenever he does something nice, like helping a kid from a bad household, he turns around and does something insane, like sneaking into the house of a stranger to spy on her. And after he does something insane, he turns around and does something ingratiating again. It leaves the audience in the uncomfortable position of not knowing how to feel about the man, and it does so beautifully and tactfully.
It is especially uncomfortable that Joe embodies the typical “nice guy” character that romantic movies so often focus on. If you’re not careful, you can almost forget that you’re supposed to be rooting against this guy. One line from the first episode was particularly interesting. Hiding behind the shower curtain of the woman he’s stalking while she stands unaware just inches away, Joe says to the audience “I’m not worried. I’ve seen enough romantic comedies to know that guys are always getting out of jams like this.”
This masterfully written line hits home the point that under slightly different circumstances, Joe would be considered the hero of the story. The fact that he shouldn’t be is what makes this fascinating and devious show worth watching.
Keagan Miller is a psychology junior and Life & Arts columnist for The Battalion.

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