Why are we still making shows about stalking women in 2019? Isn’t the narrative that females need saving getting old and tired?
In the new Netflix show, You, Joe Goldberg, a New York bookstore manager becomes obsessed with a female customer named Guinevere Beck. In the show, Joe is narrating from the future as though Beck is dead. The show follows Joe and his efforts to go from stalker to boyfriend.
You is a tired show with a tired narrative and it’s time for Netflix to fund shows that don’t center on victim blaming but rather give women agency.
The show depicts narratives we have seen too many times before; obsessive male behaviour disguised as romantic love; women who need a male saviour; and rationalizing domestic and mental abuse as accepted traits found in relationships.
Joe claims Beck portrays a fake persona to everyone but him. He questions why she sleeps with losers or why she masturbates in front of a big window, if not for attention. Joe uses these examples to justify his reasoning for her murder.
Farrah Khan is the manager of Ryerson’s Consent Comes First, Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education. She is a nationally recognized advocate for addressing sexual assault with over two decades of experience.
Khan tweeted about the show, stating that the actor, Penn Badgley, who plays Joe, is a grown version of Dan Humphrey from Gossip Girl — another character the actor has played.
I started thinking about Gossip Girl and how it follows the same narrative. Dan Humphrey was in love, which lead him to create a website that essentially was used to stalk Serena, his main love interest.
It is as though You picked up where Gossip Girl left off — only with a more psychotic tone.
One of the issues Khan found with the show You is how it made Beck a static character. The show doesn’t give her much of a narrative and Khan said it is disappointing that we have the ability to have TV shows and movies with more women-centric narratives yet shows like You choose to employ lazy storylines.
On Jan. 15 Netflix released a movie called Is Only Mine. The narrative is the same as You, except the thriller’s main character is a cop who obsessively stalks his ex-girlfriend, said Khan.
So why does Netflix keep funding shows that have been done so many times before? Movies and TV shows are capable of being both entertaining and socially aware. Netflix would be wise to realize this. We need more women-centric shows, like Jessica Jones, Supergirl and Dumpling.