“You”’s audience is infatuated with its criminal lead

Alyssa Husk, Entertainment Writer

“You” season two is a brilliantly jarring addition to its first season. This season follows Joe’s (Penn Badgley) mission to move across the country in an attempt to escape his murderous past with the woman he stalked and killed. He has to flee New York because his ex-girlfriend knows about everything that happened with Beck (Elizabeth Lail), the woman he stalked, and said she wants to ruin his life. 

Joe ends up flying to California and changing his name to Will with the plans to cross the Mexican border and flee the country. Before this new plan can be fully executed, he sees a woman named Love (Victoria Pedretti) and his cycle of watching and stalking women begins to develop all over again.  

Throughout Joe and Love’s relationship there are many challenges they have to overcome including Love’s eccentric brother, Joes nosey neighbor and her sister, and Joe’s persistent ex. Joe is seen falling in love again as the same pattern of everything around him falling apart plays out again.  

As Joe continues to hurt people he cares about because of his need to be in control of everything and everyone, he begins to see himself for what he truly is… a monster. He gets visions of Beck blaming him for her death. Later in the season he trips off acid and hallucinates that he kills his neighbor Delilah. 

A major turning point in the season is when Joe finally comes down from his acid trip and finds Delilah dead, he’s shocked because he didn’t think he was capable of killing her after he promised her that she wouldn’t die. As he’s attempting to discover who else could’ve possibly murdered her, he comes to terms with the notion that maybe he is capable of murdering an innocent person he cares about for his own selfish reasons. The thought that he could do things like this is fortified by all of his actions in the past, where he manipulated and killed multiple people only for his own personal gain. 

This is a very interesting point in the season because in season one there are no instances where Joe acts remorsefully. It’s character development that’s surprising to see from this type of character, but its welcomed and almost breath of fresh air for long-time viewers. 

Just as Joe finally begins to see the error of his ways after all of the pain he’s caused, Love reveals that she’s the one who killed Delilah and that she’s also been stalking him this entire time. Love keeps Joe locked in his sound-proof box and the audience and Joe can see a parallel between Joe’s current predicament and how he treated Beck towards the end of the first season. 

Love reveals to Joe that she’s pregnant with his child and they basically end up together. The season ends with Joe moving to the suburbs with Love, and in the very last minutes we see him spy on his neighbor as the stalking cycle gears up to start all over again. The ending feels repetitive, but canonically makes sense with the rest of the show.  

“You” is a very interesting and dramatic show that I thoroughly enjoy, but I don’t enjoy it to the same degree as most of its audience. Many viewers are infatuated with Joe and aspire to be in a relationship with him, despite all of his extremely toxic behavior.  

My mom explained this love for Joe as people wanting to root for the underdog. When the entire show is presented to the audience from Joe’s perspective, it makes people feel for him and understand the reasoning behind his actions.  

Penn Badgley feels the same as I do about this entire predicament, calling out his followers on Instagram for only following him because of the fact that they lust after a murder. He posted video saying, “I wake up to find I have a million followers. I don’t know what to say because all it took… was for me to start murdering people ya’ll get the f*** out of here.”