Why Are So Many You Fans In Love With Penn Badgley's Joe?

Joe Penn Badgley You Netflix

Warning! The following contains spoilers for You. Read at your own risk!

You is many Netflix subscribers' latest streaming obsession, and scores of people are gushing on the web about how great the drama series is. There’s also quite a few that are doting on the show’s diverse and deep list of characters, although some have grown an unhealthy attachment to the one character they absolutely should hate. I’m talking, of course, about Penn Badgley’s Joe Goldberg.

At first, I believed the Joe love was an isolated incident in which I wondered if I should worry about my little sister and her relationships when she said it. Then I went to Twitter, and it turns out there are quite a few who are open about their love of Joe, and how they pity the sociopathic main character of the twisted series, which originally aired on Lifetime. Why are so many fans in love with a character who is clearly deranged?

Luckily, the world got its answer straight from the mouth of Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown, who broke down one of the common things Joe supporters have said quite eloquently.

Sorry, Eleven, but those who think You's Joe Goldberg is just a hopeless romantic pining for Rebecca’s love are wrong. What’s baffling is it doesn’t even take more than an episode to realize this, as Joe immediately begins engaging in activities that should qualify as disturbing.

To recap the first episode: Joe creeps on Beck on social media and uses that information to secretly observe her out on the town with her friends. He then follows her back home, and watches her hook up with a booty call through her window. Once the boyfriend is gone, Joe sticks around to watch her pleasure herself, and starts furiously masturbating while standing on the city sidewalk outside.

That’s just the first episode, and for those who haven’t gotten that far, things get a hell of a lot worse from there. Just going off that though, I would hope that any person who witnessed or heard of someone doing that would not have their heart melted and chalk that up to a declaration of love. That’s stalking, and a situation that can get dangerous really quick.

Still, there are those who pine for the romantic heart of Joe Goldberg, and somewhat identify with the hopeless romantic that he seems to be.

Joe Goldberg just wants to be loved, and at times, he does seem like a hopeless romantic. What You viewers who love Joe tend to overlook is that he goes about this the wrong way, choosing to try and manipulate others into their best selves rather than accepting them for who they are. They also tend to overlook that his connection to Beck was never real, and constructed solely on his fantasies and constant surveillance of her in private conversations and emails.

Case in point, what happened to Joe and Beck the moment he stopped spying on her every call? He stopped inherently knowing what she wanted, and things between them slowly shifted away until she eventually started an affair with Dr. Nicky. On that note, why does John Stamos never age? He is killing the beard game with that facial hair!

Back to Joe, I think the fundamental mistakes he made with Rebecca were controlling her life and trying to manipulate her into the person she wanted to be. I can kind of see how someone could mistake his intentions as noble, but everything Joe seemingly does for Beck serves his own self-interest in creating the person he wants to spend his life with.

Because if all Joe ever really wanted was love, he would’ve stayed with Karen. Karen didn’t need to be “fixed” and that ultimately bored Joe and led him to fooling around with Beck again. It also gave Karen a clean exit from that crazy situation, so good on her for being one of the few women in the show that saw him for what he really is.

Joe is a psychopath, yet there are those who pity him, and instead feel anger towards Beck while watching You.

I’ll cop to feeling some disdain towards Beck in the beginning, but mainly because I thought the big twist was going to be it was she manipulating Joe and Peach all along. I realized about midway through that wasn’t what was happening, and after that I found it hard to blame Beck for anything she may have done to hurt Joe. After all, Joe had hurt Beck 100x worse than the things she had done to him; she just didn’t realize it until it was too late.

Which leads into the ultimate reason why no one who watched You should obsess or wish for a lover like Joe Goldberg. Not only did he kill two people Beck was close to in her life, he also ends up killing her when shit hits the fan! Then not a week after framing Dr. Nicky, he’s back on the prowl and eyeballing another woman that walks into the book store.

Of course there’s more to that moment that sets the stage for what could be an insane Season 2, and as much as I hate what Penn Badgley’s Joe Goldberg has done to some people, I gotta see what he does next. Maybe next season can feature Badgley doing PSAs that advocate against looking for a person like his character? I need something to protect these people who basically think You is the modern equivalent of Romeo and Juliet.

For the record, Penn Badgley seems to be as concerned as I am about this disturbing trend. The former Gossip Girl actor went on a tear on his Twitter when the show popped off, and began fending off admirers hoping he’d go “Joe” on them.

Bottom line, I don’t support those searching for a companion like Joe Goldberg, but I'm thrilled that Netflix picked it up for Season 2. CinemaBlend will be on the lookout for updates on You, and television lovers can head over to our midseason premiere guide and see what’s headed to television.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.