How "You" on Netflix captures the dangers of toxic masculinity
Updated: Feb 4, 2019
In case you missed it, "You" is a TV series streaming on Netflix that has taken the internet by storm. This intense thriller will have you begging for more. Penn Badgley is back as the Dan Humphrey reincarnate, Joe. Like Dan, Joe is an outsider looking for a way in, with an obsession with a complicated blonde. The difference? Joe is a literal stalker, reaching levels of obsession that even Dan wouldn’t be able to fathom.
From the moment Joe sets eyes on Beck, played by Elizabeth Lail, he is determined to be with her. From following her around and breaking into her house, to hacking her social media and murdering her ex, there’s nothing Joe wouldn’t do for “the love of his life”. From his perspective, he isn’t doing anything wrong, he’s just your average Joe (pun intended). However, his characteristics embody the dangers of toxic masculinity. He genuinely believes that Beck needs him and constantly judges her from afar, as stalkers do.
Before they engage in a consensual relationship, Joe slut shames Beck for her Tinder trysts and does everything in his power to manipulate her once their relationship begins to bloom. He even goes as far as to attempt to alienate her from friends and exterminate any potential love rivals due to his tendency to turn violent when things don’t go his way.
Joe’s insecurities are the root of his dangerous behaviors. In true toxic masculinity fashion, Joe does not recognize the realities of his emotions. It’s pretty evident that Joe does suffer from psychological problems, which flashbacks suggest were caused by the mental and physical abuse of his boss, Mr. Mooney. However, the only time he seeks therapy is to spy on Beck. Joe himself doesn’t seem to understand the magnitude of his actions, he regards them as mere quirks and his instances of violence as simple annoyances. In his mind he is the alpha protecting his territory, Toxic Masculinity 101.
While Beck is no angel, no woman deserves the constant manipulation and gaslighting that Joe put her through. Despite his violent habits, possessiveness and manipulative nature, Joe does believe that he’s a nice guy. If a guy feels the need to prove that he’s a “nice guy”, chances are he’s not. According to Colorado State University’s Women and Gender Advocacy Center, 1 in 6 women in the United States will fall victim to stalking during their lifetime.
If You teaches us anything, it’s that we should always keep our eyes open to red flags and potentially toxic traits within our partners and relationships. It should also teach us that the people we are in relationships are not our property, we cannot control them or manipulate them to do what we want. So please, don’t be like Joe, and get some curtains for your windows while your at it.