Does the TV show “You” romanticize stalking?

Rachel Green , Opinions Writer

It feels as if the entire world is watching “You,” the new Netflix series. Upon its release to Netflix on Dec. 26, Twitter and seemingly the world became instantly enamored with not only the show, but with Joe (Penn Badgley).

The 10 episode series follows the journey of falling in love from start to finish. Their love story starts as a fairytale: meeting in a bookstore and exchanging jokes like old friends. However, red flags are raised when Joe begins to track Beck (Elizabeth Lail) on the Internet. He goes as far as to find her address and stand outside her home. To me this was crossing the line, but not to everyone. Many Twitter users seemed to think that Joe’s efforts to win over Beck are romantic rather than what they really are, creepy. It’s clear that by the end of the series Joe is a stalker. He peers through Beck’s windows, hacks her phone and cuts people who care about her out of her life. He focuses all of his energy on her and nothing else. Still, people discuss Joe being attractive, romantic and loyal. It is argued that Joe is protecting Beck, and that all of his behavior is out of love. I feel like if someone were to stare through my windows everyday, I would feel more violated than protected. It begs the question- do we really treat stalking behaviors like this? Do we make them acceptable so long as they are “out of love?” Maybe “You” is being romanticized because we all know and love Badgley from the “Gossip Girl” days, but maybe the reactions to this show reveal a deeper societal issue.

If we romanticize or even normalize these behaviors, we are saying that we want to love someone who is so consumed by us that they feel we cannot make our own decisions regarding our friends, families and lives. Love is suppose to be a partnership rather than what “You” displays, an act of manipulation. Beck happily falls in love without realizing that Joe has been controlling her life from behind the scenes, influencing every aspect in order to lead her closer to him. Even after this is clearly shown, fans still took the Net to defend Joe’s actions. Badgley was surprised by this and felt the need to reply to various tweets that referenced how attractive his character was, reminding fans that Joe is a stalker and ultimately, a murderer.

Are we as a society so desperate to find love that we would rather be manipulated than alone? Maybe we are simply blinded by the attractiveness of someone that we really don’t see who they really are. Regardless of the reasoning, it is clear that there are unspoken issues in society regarding the fine line between love and obsession. Perhaps the second season of “You” will open more eyes to the behaviors that Joe displays.