First, it was Ted Bundy. Now, it’s ‘YOU’

Editor’s Note: Spoilers for the Netflix series “YOU” below. 

Lifetime’s original series “YOU” debuted its first season in early September 2018. Now, on its second season and recently sold to Netflix, the show has taken the world and internet by storm.

Twitter, Instagram and Facebook were blasted with “YOU” jokes and commentary following the successful debut of its second season last December. Among parody inner dialogues mimicking the main character, Joe Goldberg’s, there was an alarming number of posts made romanticizing Joe.

The point is clear: Joe Goldberg is sexy, mysterious, “damaged” and loving. Women far and wide raved over his good looks and commitment to bettering the lives of the women around him, all the while watching him murder their friends and stalk their lives. 

The series begins with Joe watching a girl from his bookstore through her window, enjoying a street viewing of her undressing and having sex while simultaneously working his way into her life from the outside in. His charming personality and curly-haired white boy looks were destined to draw attention from young women.

What the producers may have not known was that this attention would not dwindle, even after Joe committed a number of crimes.

User @anacertifico tweeted: “kinda wanna move to a new city, get a new identity and maybeeee fall in love with someone?? like joe goldberg??? sounds fun.”

Being stalked, held hostage and manipulated out of obsession is not the typical idea of fun, nor should it be. 

Another Twitter user, @healynation, tweeted: “god I am so f—— in love with joe goldberg and I shouldnt be proud of it because i am crushing on a f—— murderer jesus.”

That about sums up what most of the female audience of “YOU” was feeling. But why? What is it about Joe Goldberg that is so attractive and comforting that we will allow him to become some sort of fetishized idea of a boyfriend?

Such cases go back to serial killers like Ted Bundy, a man who still retains his fan club of horny women chasing after an above-average man with apparently such wild charm that it somehow makes it okay that he raped and murdered people in cold blood. It’s easy to make excuses for people when you want to, even murderers and psychotic stalkers. 

“His intentions were pure, but his actions were not. Like, he tried to take out all the toxic folks in ole girl’s life, but instead of trying to get her to cut them off, he killed them,” Jae Trinity, a freshman at Georgia State, said.

Molly Olajide, another student at Georgia State, said that she thinks Joe does care in his own way about the girls he dates, but because of the unresolved trauma in his life he doesn’t know how to express it in a healthy way except by killing people. 

The problem with these statements, among the thousands of others being made, is that we are excusing what is clearly abusive behavior as stemming from some sort of trauma, which somehow absolves or at least minimizes his actions. This idea of men being something for a woman to fix has well preceded psychological thrillers.

Boys will be boys, and boys will be hurt in their past and then hurt women, but they’re hurt, so it’s okay, it’s all good.

Joe is obsessed with these women, not in love with them. He does what he does in a selfish act of lust and obsession. If you find Joe Goldberg sexy in any form, your perception of a healthy relationship has suffered at the hands of misogyny.