In late December, Netflix released another original television show, “You,” to add to their seemingly endless collection of original movies and shows. The show has since become a sensation with generally positive reviews online and in print media.
The favorable buzz around “You” is justifiable to an extent. However, the overall plot is inconsistent and the message in the romance/crime drama is muddled as the series progresses. Some of this confusion serves a dramatic purpose in the story but, at times, that purpose is lost in the unreliable perspective of one of the characters and the thematic shifts that follow.
The story appears to allude to how social networks are in fact changing the way that we socialize.
The first episode of the show paints the classic picture of boy meets girl. The show twists the perceptions of who the heroes and villains are through the eyes of the male main character, Joe. At first, Joe is presented as an intelligent, observant character who is infatuated by the female main character, Beck. The protagonist, Beck, is seen as a “damsel in distress,” and Joe is painted as the “knight in shining armor” there to save her.
Through the connections and endless possibilities of social media, Joe finds out the basics of who Beck is. Although the information was only found through a quick search and a few taps, Joe’s sociopathy and lack of boundaries are clearly foreshadowed.
Joe’s obsession begins small, as he goes from obtaining readily-available public information through social media to staring through Beck’s apartment windows and monitoring the comings and goings of her and her guests. This would be a romantic trope, only if it were to stop right there and go no further, but the behavior continues and escalates in dark and dangerous ways. While it may have begun as a romantic story, it soon progresses into a cautionary tale about being careful about what information you put out on social media and being mindful of strangers.
The daunting aspect of the show is the extreme lack of boundaries and privacy. The story appears to allude to how social networks are in fact changing the way that we socialize. The show shines a light on real-life problems such as the lack of privacy that comes with social media and how social media is now considered a character-defining tool. These issues are represented by Joe and how easily and how much he can find out about his object of desire, Beck, simply through social media.
While some people may see this as a love story for the terminally awkward, there are problems in the narrative with the lack of boundaries and the psychological abuse that is implicit in violating someone’s privacy and stalking them. By the end, when the full extent of Joe’s invasion of privacy, stalking and violent tendencies are revealed, it becomes clear that the show is really more like “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” than it is “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.”
While it may have begun as a romantic story, it soon progresses into a cautionary tale about being careful about what information you put out on social media and being mindful of strangers.
Without giving too much of the story or its twists and turns away, it is enough to say that “You” starts out as any date movie: boy meets girl, then awkward boy falls for girl and attempts to win her attention and affection. This is a story that has been done repeatedly by the sea of romantic comedies that find their way to the cinema every Valentine’s Day. We have seen the lovable male character pining away, researching the object of his affection and remaining unfazed by the female character’s lack of availability or interest.
- Good Acting
- Well-written and well-researched piece
- Decent cinematography
- Not completely original
Photo courtesy of Variety