‘You’ Netflix— Why is Joe Relatable?

Now that Netflix has brought back You for an amazing second season, Joe Goldberg demonstrates yet again we can all relate with a psychopath on screen. How is that even possible?

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Credit: Netflix

A Solid Anti-Hero: Why Do We Like Joe in You?

Joe is certainly not the first anti-hero ever, nor the most complicated or controversial in the history of fiction. Vladimir Nabokov has made efforts to render his Humbert Humbert despicable in Lolita, and such was Dostoevskij’s intent in his Crime and Punishment. Even video games are full of such characters. And yet, we are always eager to welcome them in our memory, even to let them linger for a pretty long time.

Little does it matter that Joe is a deluded and a blatantly selfish murderer. Viewers do not (or choose not to) see that.

For most of the time, what we see on screen is the descent of a mad man into his dark abyss, and all we do is just tread along. We even hope for him to resurface at times—we hope he will emerge victorious, or at least earn his peace and redemption. Even though everything Joe does, he does it for himself — no one else. With some exceptions.

Want VS Need

One of the most popular ‘rules’ in fiction writing is the delicate struggle between desires and needs. Joe himself has one of the most relatable desires of all: to find love and happiness, to live the perfect life alongside his beloved one. We all know what Joe wants and, as viewers, we play along. Because to an extent, we all want the same things for ourselves. The whole story is built around Joe’s wish, leading us to empathise with his feelings and situation.

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Photo by Toimetaja tõlkebüroo on Unsplash

The Viewer

Funny enough, the viewer may not even be conscious of all that. What the viewer sees is a good-looking character, with genuine desires and (apparently) good faith, and that alone is more than enough. Because we all believe, deep down, that there is one element of good will in everything Joe does.

Written by

Can babble endlessly about storytelling. Penniless sitar player, 2-bit fiction writer. | Writer at The Startup. Editor & Community Manager at Creativepool.

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