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Netflix's 'You' - Is Joe Goldberg a Good Guy?

Alizeh Published On Wed Jan 15 2020   Modified On Thu Jan 16 2020
Netflix's 'You' - Is Joe Goldberg a Good Guy?

'Hey you,' the thriller series 'You' that recently moved to Netflix from Lifetime and is gaining a whole new audience. Former Gossip Girl star Penn Badgley is now playing a stalking, murderous boyfriend, and people can't get enough of him. 

Penn's character Joe Goldberg is not your regular psychopath; there is a certain aura to his persona, which is fresh and different from 'killers' we've seen on screen. 

penn in a greyish shirt

Joe Goldberg in You. 
Source: tvseriesfinale

We have all been made aware of what a fantastic show You is, because of how contradicting Joe is, people can't distinguish if he is a good man or not.

Is Joe Goldberg a Good Man?

Badgley's character Joe is a man who is capable of anything. The character is disarmingly charming, conflicted, and homicidal, who wants so desperately to love and be loved he doesn't let anything stand in his way. Throughout two seasons, Joe infiltrates the lives of others in search of the one.

beck reading a book, joe watching her from behind

Joe Goldberg and Beck.
Source: elitedaily

Joe always finds a way to justify his actions, deluding himself into believing he's the hero of his own story instead of the villain. Penn's character slightly resembles the infamous American serial killer Ted Bundy.

Goldberg develops an unhealthy fixation on those he loves, having a desperate need to find someone to love unconditionally fueled by the irrational fear of being alone, or being rejected.

In the series, Joe is seen doing a lot of things that a reasonable person would think of doing but wouldn't act upon.

on the left ted bundy, right joe goldberg

Joe Goldberg and Ted bundy.
Source: confessions of a bundyphile

The character narrates his thoughts in the series, which is like a narration of his reasons or justification for all the unusual things he does. Joe goes on to do the right thing, but it ends up being another dead in his chamber, like his ex-girlfriend Candace played by Ambyr Childers says 

"Murder has a way of following you, it just a matter of time before you do it again."

It's All for Love

Narrating his thoughts, Joe says multiple times how everything he does is for Love. In the first season, he fixated on Beck and in the second season, Love, for whom he acts on his crazy thoughts. 

The series shows the character's need for Love and affection, or in other words, we can say how Joe is a sociopath who fixates himself to a new girl every time. 

love wearing a green top looking at her friend

Love Quinn.
Source: Bustle

When an average person develops a new crush, there is a certain level of obsession with that person, but the You character Joe takes it to whole another level. 

Watch: Penn Badgley talk about the series 

In the first season, he stalks Beck and removes people who he thinks are unworthy of her — seeing Beck as something that needs to be protected, which is an unhealthy trait in any relationship. 

Joe's got his definition of Love all wrong; in the second season, Joe tries to do it all right, become the perfect boyfriend for his newfound obsession, Love. 

beck inside the cage crying, joe looking at her from the outside

Joe goldberg and Beck 
Source: Pinterest 

However, Joe being that psychopath still manages to mess it up. To be a good man he does all the wrong things which in his head is for good.

A Troublesome Childhood

According to child psychology, important changes that take place in an individual are between the age of 3-7-year-olds. In the series, we can see Joe's troublesome childhood, which could be a justification as to how he turned out to be.

Joe's dad is portrayed as a straight-up abusive parent, on the other hand Joe's mom vacillates between care and neglect, regularly leaving him by himself in favor of her sexual encounters. 

childhood joe standing in the hallway

Joe Goldberg child version.
Source: Marie clarie 

Joe Goldberg didn't have the most normal of upbringings. After being seemingly adopted by bookstore owner, Mr. Mooney, Joe endured frequent harsh punishments. 

Find out: 'You' Ellie Alves Actress Jenna Ortega - Top 5 Facts

The central part of that saw Joe often locked in the infamous cage that he would ultimately utilize for his ends.

In an early sign of his eventual patterns, Joe's focus was entirely centered on his mother. Not only did he protect her secrets, but he was often dismayed when she never followed through on forgoing other men in favor of him. 

young joe with mooney in the cage, mooney holding a book

Joe and Mooney.
Source: youtvfandom

All of these flashbacks justify Joe's sociopathic character and his need for affection. Penn Badgley, in an interview with ET says, "Joe is trying to get everything that was seemingly taken away during his childhood." 

A Love Addict

Becky Whetstone, a relationship therapist, and love addiction specialist, told Insider that she suspects Goldberg may have love addiction because of his compulsive need to be unconditionally loved by the women he pursues at all costs.

This is particularly evident in the way he initially projects perfection onto his love interests throughout the series what Whetstone describes as a prominent sign of love addiction.

left: joe and beck, right: joe and love

Joe Goldberd and his love interests. 
Source: Harper's Bazaar 

"He's making them his higher power," Whetstone said. "He is making up that there are all these wonderful things that are either way exaggerated or not true."

One of the primary external causes of love addiction, according to Whetstone, is something called "mother hunger", a desire for an unconditionally-loving mother that was absent in childhood. 

left joe's mother right side joe photoshopped

Joe Goldberg's mother 
Source: Daily mail 

Numerous flashbacks in "You" reveal that Goldberg had a complicated relationship with his mother in which she abandoned him for long stretches of time, insinuating this is a reason for his violence. 

One love addiction red flag is being out of touch with the reality of the relationship with the person they're addicted to, like Goldberg is for much of the series.

Watch You 2 Trailer

It is difficult to say whether Joe is good or bad as he has such a contradicting personality and way of acting on things. While a lot of people say that Joe is an evil guy, we need to take into consideration his childhood trauma and mental issues before having a black or white opinion. 

Fans heavily romanticized the infamous villain character Joker (Joker and Harley), and so is the character of Joe. 

joe, beck, peach from You season 1

You season 1 cast.
Source: Harper's Bazaar 

It seems some people prefer to ignore Joe's violent tendencies because Penn is hot, which is problematic as it can encourage guy to be like Joe, which in real life can be a sensational crime story. 

So, one needs to understand the character with their ordinary consciousness rather than getting carried away by the charming character portrayed on screen. 

Also read: Is Tana Mongeau Married? Who is Her Husband? Grab All the Relationship Details

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