The Perception of Beauty Essay Example
The thrilling new Netflix series, “You”(2018), directed by Sera Gamble, has become very popular because of the captivating main character, Joe, played by Penn Badgley. The writers paint Joe as the perfect man, but as viewers continue to watch, that idea slowly unravels. Joe is a psychoanalyst, who studies peoples every move. While working his job at a bookstore, he observes a beautiful girl named Beck(played by Elizabeth Lail), and falls in love with her mannerisms and quirks instantly. Before Joe pursues Beck face to face, he practically dedicates his life to stalking her. Once Joe eases his way into Beck’s life and becomes her boyfriend, viewers are thrown into a deep state of confusion. Joe seemed to be the perfect boyfriend, and viewers start to think that despite the stalking, he’s still a good guy. Although, once people in Beck’s life start getting in the way of their relationship, things take a dark turn. Viewers may be tempted to binge watch the entire series to see how this disturbing story plays out.
Joe is a very convincing and clever man, and being in his head throughout the series is invigorating. You continually get Joes point of view throughout the show. When he’s thinking, we see him pondering and hear his voice talking inside his head, and when he’s stalking, we see exactly what he sees. He always comes up with a way to convince himself that his actions are justified, and for the right reasons. He often says throughout the show, “I’m doing this all for you”, to his love interest Beck. Joe Stalks Beck in such a covert way, he’s almost got you convinced in the beginning of the series that he’s not a stalker at all. Joe appears to be the furthest thing from a stalker. He works in a bookstore, is visually attractive, clean cut, nice, and is a smooth-talking, charismatic man. It’s like all the little appealing aspects of Joe make viewers forget his main issue. I believe that is how viewers get hooked. Viewers fall in love with this, “too good to be true” guy, in hopes that maybe his issue is only a misunderstood habit.
The whole point of the show is to trick viewers into thinking Joe is a good guy, and writers play a part in the deception as well. Stalking is creepy, so you’d think the show would be creepy, but the show does not initially come off as suspenseful or eerie. There’s no suspenseful music, odd camera angles made, or strange cinematography. All the editing tricks to imply Joe is an evil character are completely absent. He does it all on his own without any help from extra film making components. This is their way of showing people how oblivious and mistaken one can be to stalking. The absence of editing allows viewers to make up their own opinions about Joe, the show doesn’t force you to feel a certain way through predetermined aspects. Because of the lack of fine tuning, “You” is almost an interactive show. Viewers come to their own conclusions about Joe and soon come to find out that they were just as oblivious as Beck.
Penn Badgley(Joe) even had to warn people on Twitter that stalkers are actually bad, and his character is bad. He responded to a fans comment that said, ”I’m telling u it’s ur face that does it. Ur gorgeous. I can see past that crazy shit lol”, Badgley said, “But you’re supposed to see past my face TO the crazy shit! It’s the other way! The other wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyhhyyyyggg :)”. Fans are romanticizing the idea of a psychotic murderer. This is what the writers wanted, but only to a certain extent. Once Joe goes off the deep end, viewers were supposed to realize they were deceived, and realize how easy it is to have a stalker in your life and not recognize it. What was supposed to bring up a serious topic and conversation, has become a sick joke, and that’s not what the writers anticipated.
Stalker habits are no joke and there are tons of warning signs that are emphasized throughout the show. A few of the obvious clues are that he consistently follows Beck. He even leaves work to follow Beck, abandoning his coworkers. He follows her to college and her classes, on her errands, and trips out of town, he even stands outside her window at night and watches her. Not only does he follow her, he follows everyone she is close to as well. He follows her ex-boyfriend, and her best friend Peach(Shay Mitchell). Both of these characters, “got in the way”, of their relationship, and both of these characters ended up dead. He takes a lot of her things to keep to himself too. Joe takes her underwear, blouses, personal journal, and her phone and collects them in a box like a shrine. Beck “lost” her phone, and Joe ended up “finding” it, and keeping it. Beck ended up getting a new phone, but both her old and new phone were still connected to the “cloud”, so Joe was still able to see all her text messages on her old phone as they rolled in allowing him to keep constant tabs on her. All these stolen items benefited Joe’s stalker manifestation.
Penn Badgley is the main character in another popular show on Netflix called “Gossip Girl”, which aired from 2007 through 2012. There are many similarities between the plots and characters he portrays between the two shows that he stared in. “Gossip Girl” is a bunch of teenagers whose worst secrets begin to anonymously be revealed in a blog. A group of friends, including Badgley (better known as Dan Humphrey in “Gossip Girl”), all do detective work in hopes to uncover who is revealing their deepest darkest secrets on this blog. The friend’s give this anonymous person that is revealing their secrets the name, “Gossip Girl”. Towards the end of the show the viewers find out that the “Gossip Girl”, had been one of their closest friends, Dan Humphrey(Badgley), and he had been revealing their secrets the whole time. Both of Badgley characters in “You” and “Gossip Girl” were covering up big secrets. Joe was hiding murders, and stealing Beck’s phone, and Dan was hiding the fact that he was exposing all of his friends anonymously. The two characters shared a lot of the same deceiving traits. In an interview between Pen Badgley and a PopBuzz writer, Nicky Idika, Nicky asked, “Joe and Dan do have a couple of things in common. They're both New Yorkers. They're big readers. They're internet savvy. Do you think those two would get along if they actually met?” and in response Badgley said, “They would hate each other because they're too similar. And then Joe would kill Dan so, you know.”
“You” is also comparable to the Netflix series, “The Ted Bundy Tapes”, which first aired on Netflix January of 2019. Both series seem to have the same effect on people. Viewers are romanticizing Joe and Ted Bundy, knowing their killers, but simply not caring because they’re visually attractive. People are still not getting the point, even after watching this happen in real life.
In the very last episode of “You”, viewers get clarification that there will be a second season. This is delineated by one of Joe’s ex-girlfriends, or perhaps ex-victim, making an appearance. This ex-girlfriend’s name is Candice(Ambyr Childers) and she’s mentioned a few times throughout the show. Viewers never get the clarification that she’s dead, but the writers portray it as if she is. The ending of the series begins with Joe scoping out a new victim at his book store and it ends up being Candice. Their exchange confidently confirms a second season. When Joe realizes who it is, he says, “Candice?”, in complete confusion. Joe asks, “You’re...”, and Candice cuts him off saying, “Alive? yea. I think we have some unfinished business to talk about.” There is no way a producer can leave us with a cliff hanger of that magnitude. We need to know how Candice is alive, how she “died”, and what their unfinished business is about. If it turns out that there will not be a second season of “You” like the last episode perceives there to be, there is no doubt in my mind the producers will have some furious fans.
Overall, Bagley’s character in “You” is portrayed in a way that teaches viewers about the signs of stalking in a very realistic way. The show is an addictive drama about real world problems that people face every day. The series speaks to things that are all too true in life. When someone is beautiful on the outside, most people assume they are on the inside as well, but “You” is trying to teach their audience that looks can be deceiving. Sometimes the hero of a story, is really the villain from a different angle.