Is You scary? its ties to reality

Joe Goldberg

You is one of the most popular shows on Netflix; it’s also impressed critics, earning a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The series follows Joe Goldberg, a bookstore owner willing to pull all the stops in his pursuit of love. When Beck enters Joe’s store in season 1, he views her as his one true love and begins wooing the lady. 

The series feels a bit like a rom-com at first before it reveals Joe’s dark side: Goldberg uses social media to insert himself into Beck’s life; he murders anyone who he feels might hurt Beck; he eventually stabs Beck to death. 

You is scary because of its ties to reality

Thriller productions are scary with their jump scares, supernatural elements, bizarre characters, and freakish gore. Even though they can give you the occasional nightmare, it’s comforting to know that whatever you watched wasn’t real and is unlikely to happen in real life. 

You is scary because it feels like the story it tells can happen in real life. It opens you up to the possibility that the people you interact with – your shopkeeper, barrister, cab driver, the list goes on – might be obsessive and murderous psychopaths. 

Joe convinces himself that Beck is ‘The One’ sans any knowledge about her identity, personality, or interests. Sure, we have believers in love at first sight, but people rarely conclude that they found their soulmate by sight alone. 

Thanks to social media, Joe discovers Beck’s interests, friends, preferences, and, more importantly, her address. The information he gathers allows him to place himself in Beck’s life, slowly wearing her down until he gives in to her advances. 

Almost by impulse, you’ll check the privacy settings on your social media accounts after watching You. It cautions you about the dangers of oversharing on social media platforms, which thrive on collecting information about people. 

Joe treats Beck well and eliminates external threats to the couple’s happiness by murdering them. The murder and blood in You can be disturbing, but they hardly compare to the gore in thriller films. 

Weirdly, you can find yourself rooting for Joe and Beck. At times, the sociopathy about Joe’s behavior escapes your mind; for fleeting moments, the disguised rom-com part in You reveals itself. Showrunner Sera Gamble told Entertainment Weekly:

“I found myself intermittently rooting for [Joe and Beck] until almost the very last page. I was fully aware that it was not in line with my feminist view of the world, but what it taps into is something that is very deeply ingrained in me and I think a lot of people in our culture, which is a belief in the love story.”

However, Joe’s senseless killing of Beck snaps you back into reality. If Joe can’t have Beck, nobody can, he tells himself. 

The real-life nature of You and the lingering feeling that it can happen to anyone – even you – makes the series scary

You gets unnecessarily murderous as the series progresses

love and Joe Goldberg
Love Quinn and Joe Goldberg on ‘YOU’ Season 2 | Netflix

Season 1 of You portrays Joe as an obsessed lover who takes it too far – which one might understand. The following seasons eliminate any notion that Joe is capable of redemption: the series exposes who he really is – a psychopathic murderer. 

Some of the people he murdered probably deserved it; for instance, Joe killed his abusive father. However, the murders in season 2 and especially season 3 don’t make sense: the series makes up for diminishing creativity by piling on the murders. 

Joe finds a companion in his partner Love, who turns out to be perhaps more twisted than Goldberg. Joe tries to repeat his season 1 trick by murdering his lover, but Love reveals that she’s pregnant, convincing Joe not to kill her. 

The first episode in season three shows Joe and Love settled in a suburban area. A new start offers Joe the chance to prove that he can raise a family; however, he starts obsessing over a neighbor, who Love dispatches promptly. 

Love will murder anyone who threatens her family; Joe will murder anyone. Murder becomes more prevalent as the series tries to match the highs of the first season. Its senselessness makes it feel drab and certainly not scary. 

Prepare for more blood and less dread as the episodes trickle by. To its credit, season 3’s ending points to a potentially riveting fourth season.