Okay, I’m just gonna agree from here on out that I was digging Joe throughout the season and wanted him to be happy and content. But hey, who are we kidding? Joe is a sociopath. And I’ll tell you why. Also, You is difficult and may have different interpretations. So please bear with me.
I Beck Your Pardon?
I read in a lot of places how Joe is a hopeless romantic and treated Beck the way that she deserved. And I’m like, girl, no. No one wants, or deserves a stalker in their lives. Joe’s entire pursuit of Beck relied on him stalking and manipulating her. He monitored and controlled her every move, even without her knowing it. I mean, sure. Benji and Peach were terrible people who hurt Beck too. But they didn’t deserve to die for it! And definitely not because they “got in the way” of Joe’s control over Beck. Remember, if they were still alive, Joe probably wouldn’t even have had a chance with Beck. And that is how life normally works. Because at the end of the day it’s Beck’s life and her choices. If she chooses to be with Benji, then that’s her choice too. There’s no need to save her – because she doesn’t need saving. Also, a core thing here is, Joe wasn’t doing anything for Beck, he was doing everything to fulfill his selfish needs. So, when he says “You are better than that.” “You are worth waiting for.” – remember, that is not what he means.
He’s giving an excuse to himself and us behind his stalkerish behavior. Remember those times hen he’d watch her change, masturbate or have sex? No one else was watching her, inspite of her windows being wide open. And you know why? Because that is what normal people do. Good people, who have a sense of right and wrong do not do this. However, he did. He followed her and watched her very private moments from afar. Furthermore, he went on to masturbate to her (and then proceeded to help an old lady after finishing. Ew). He isn’t a hopeless romantic. He’s a stalker. Is that really the kind of person anyone needs in life?
An Unstable Narrator
It’s really easy to feel for Joe. His reasoning behind his extremely problematic behavior seems solid and you think, yeah he’s right. Beck really does need help because she can’t take care of herself. However, there are two problems here.
Firstly, no one asked for Beck’s consent in this situation. It’s her life (I know I’m repeating this). Unless and until she wants help, no one can force their decisions on her, even if it’s in her best interests. Also, the thing here is, Joe really doesn’t have Beck’s interest in mind. From the get-go, he wanted her for himself. He was fascinated with her. However, if he wasn’t a stalker and didn’t manipulate her, would she be interested in him? It is also to note here, Joe read all of Beck’s emails. All of her actual thoughts about him that she shared with her friends – he read them and acted accordingly. So, the relationship becomes very one-sided in that case. If Joe didn’t have Beck’s email, would he still have a chance? I think not. There have been numerous instances when Beck had stopped responding to him. But he came back into her life every time because of the emails. So this is not just a clear violation of privacy, but it also goes to show that Beck and Joe were doomed from the start – it was Joe’s manipulation that kept the relationship going.
Another point here is that we get this entire story from Joe’s perspective. And that is exactly where the problem lies. Joe is an unstable narrator. You can never understand whether Peach and Benji, whom we have grown to despise, are actually like that – because they come in Joe’s way. He wants to “own” Beck, and they are the thorns in his path. So, obviously, he hates them and paints a picture such that we grow to hate them too.
Candace: A Story Forgotten
Throughout the series, especially in the first season, we get to see that Candace, Joe’s ex-girlfriend, as an afterthought. Joe never really delves into her story – neither does he want to. Candace is best left dead in the dark, literally. Or that’s what Joe thought. However, the way Joe treated Candace gives us an exact picture of how he is as a person. He flips out when Candace breaks up with him – so much so that he kidnaps her and leaves her for dead in the woods. And there she would’ve laid, had it not been for her zeal to live. She was left behind like trash.
The second season does her no justice as well because although she comes back to exact revenge on Joe, she is left murdered by Love and then promptly forgotten. Moreover, throughout season 2 we see Joe conjure up tricks to get rid of her. Any sane person would find a way other than murder to get away from someone. However, Joe isn’t sane – and the fact that everyone thinks of him to be is scary.
Love…And Other Drugs
Season 2 also brought us to Love, Joe’s new “you”. Although he gives us the impression that he has changed and is trying to stay away from all things love, yet we find out that his pursuit of Love isn’t organic at all – in fact, it was all pre-planned. His job at Anavrin, the way he manipulates Calvin – it screams textbook, Joe. He hasn’t changed. He’s just lying to himself and us about his intentions.
However, as season 2 progresses, we see that he might be a changed man. Especially in his dealings with the people around him like Delilah, Elle, Forty, Love and her friends, Joe seems to be more accommodating and even accepting of the fact that he might not be the ideal person he thought he was. That’s why, in the last few episodes when Candace traps him with Delilah’s body in the cage, he decides to repent for his sins instead of running away. He wants to change and be better for Love because, in his eyes, Love is too good for him. She’s sweet, sensitive, caring and a kind soul who deserves the world and all the love that it has to offer – something that he was deprived of. However, when Love comes clean of her crimes, he is shocked. So shocked that he immediately thinks of pretending to love her just to escape (as he recalls what Beck did when she was trapped in the cage). Therefore, we’re left to wonder again about Joe’s sanity.
A New You
In the last episode, Joe seems trapped by Love. Sure, he stays back to give his child a good father, but he doesn’t love Love anymore. And the moment he hears and then lays his eyes on the woman sunbathing in her yard, he’s back to square one – a cycle is born again. This is definitely a nod for season 3 and we’re supposed to wonder who this new woman is since she is clearly married and might be older than Joe. However, it goes on to show that Joe will never be happy with one person, he will never settle. He wants to put his love interests on a pedestal too high for a person. It’s not possible for a person to be that perfect. And thus, this cycle will continue if no one puts a stop to it.
A Childhood Lost
In this context, we do get to know Joe’s background and why he is the way he is. An abusive father, a mother whom he loved dearly and depended entirely on who was an adulterer and an out and out toxic environment where he was forced to murder his father to save his mother. All of these things had a huge impact on his psyche and made him the person that he is. His need for control and dominance and the thought that only he knows what is best for his love interests stem from the abuse in his past. But does that justify his behavior – the murder and the stalkerish behavior? It surely doesn’t.
Joe has definitely put me off dating for the foreseeable future. And trust me, you don’t need a significant other who thinks that it’s okay to control every bit of your life. That ain’t healthy.
You is streaming on Netflix right now. Watch it here.