Netflix just added another binge-worthy TV series with Lifetime’s original show, “You.” The show, starring Gossip Girl’s Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgely) and Pretty Little Liars’ Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell), tells the all-too-real story of the dangers of the internet, cyberstalking and unhealthy relationships.
Penn Badgely returns to the Big Apple — not to get drinks with Serena and Blair — but to take on the role of Joe Goldberg, a quiet bookstore clerk with a newfound obsession of Guinevere “Beck,” an aspiring New York poet, played by Elizabeth Lail. Based on the novel “You” by Caroline Keynes, the Lifetime show takes us on the journey of Joe and Beck’s unfolding relationship and the measures that Joe will take to control Beck and her life.
While “You” has become a major hit since coming to Netflix — ranking in more than 40 million views, according to an article from the Washington Post — it also sheds light on an issue millions of people face: unhealthy relationships. The relationship between Joe and Beck demonstrates that relationships aren’t always what they seem.
Throughout the show, the audience (us Netflix binge-watchers) is able to hear Joe’s inner thoughts and watch him terrorize Beck by standing outside her way-too-expensive Village apartment late at night. As the audience member, we want to scream, “Beck! Can’t you see Joe is crazy?” However, she can’t hear what he is thinking, nor see him spying on her through her way apartment windows. In fact, Beck mostly sees the lovable side of Joe that makes the audience (and Twitter) almost pity him. While millions of people face physical and emotional abuse from their partners, many of those people might not see that their partner’s behavior or relationship is abusive or unhealthy.
In an interview with Vulture on why people label Beck as “naive,” Elizabeth Lail says, “There’s something between them that’s real and that unfortunately blinds you to all the red flags.” Just like Beck, it’s easy to ignore or not see the signs of a partner demonstrating abusive or unhealthy behavior, whether in a relationship or even a friendship. Throughout the show, Joe’s behavior with Beck signals red flags that both the audience and other characters notice, yet she is blind to.
For instance, Joe’s “off behavior” and subtle lies worry Beck’s friends, including the iconic Shay Mitchell. Along with his habit of sneaking around and lying, Joe constantly knows where Beck is at all times. From demanding to know where she is and who she’s with to getting caught following her around, Joe’s obsessive and controlling behavior is a textbook example of the type of behavior many people in unhealthy relationships witness today.
While “You” has become Netflix’s newest binge-worthy thriller with twists, turns and our favorite co-stars from Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars, it also demonstrates that abusive behavior is a serious problem that should never be excused.
If you or a friend witness abusive or unhealthy behavior from a partner, consult a friend/loved one or contact the University Police at (814) 863-1111.