I recently finished a Netflix show called "You." And while the show was horrifying, it was also incredibly well made and carried a strong message about how you never know if someone might be manipulating or stalking you.
The show follows the story of Joe Goldberg, a guy who stalks his girlfriend Beck and manipulates her by killing everyone he thinks is standing in her way.
However, the story is told from Joe's perspective, so you get to see a humanized version of him. He helps his neighbor's son Paco deal with his mother getting abused.
The show is so good at making you sympathize with him that sometimes you forget the horrible things he has done.
But in the last episode of season one, it gets even darker and the viewer has to confront the reality of who Joe is.
Once I finished the season, I went to social media like Tumblr and Twitter to read others' opinions on the show. Though lots of people had some interesting things to say, there were also way too many people who were sympathizing with Joe and victim-blaming Beck.
Even more disturbingly, some were even writing about how sexy Joe was and how he was a good boyfriend to her.
And it's true that on a surface level (without knowing about any of the messed up things he was doing), Joe was a pretty good boyfriend.
There was a good side to him. The side that helped Beck and Paco through their personal problems.
That's what this show does so well. Joe is a three-dimensional character. Even though you know how horrible he is, you can't help but feel for him sometimes.
However, there's a huge difference between sympathizing with someone and excusing their actions.
You sympathize with Joe because you know his backstory. You know that he doesn't think he's doing anything wrong. In fact, he thinks he's improving Beck's life.
But no matter how you frame it, Joe is a stalker and a murderer and deserves to be locked up somewhere. There shouldn't be a question about that.
The only reason that people actually like Joe is that he is played by an attractive actor. If Joe were some old man with a neckbeard stalking this beautiful young woman, there would be absolutely no one on his side.
But Joe is a young, fairly handsome man. This has blinded some people into taking the exact opposite message from this show.
And the truth of the matter is that stalkers can be attractive. The whole message of the show is that it can be anyone. A pretty face and a sad backstory should never be used to justify sociopathic behavior.
So it's okay to acknowledge the non-evil parts of him, but if you are rooting for Joe Goldberg, please do yourself and everyone a favor and stop.