Netflix’s “You”: Are Joe & Love Really Soulmates? The Cast Says…
‘Til death do them part.
Netflix’s You has blurred the lines between villain and victim, obsessor and obsess-ee, but its most recent third installment has poised a very unexpected question: Who is the worse person, Joe (Penn Badgley) or his wife, Love (Victoria Pedretti)? (Spoilers: We certainly know who is worse at murdering—let’s be real, bashing someone’s head in is not Love’s strong suit.)
On one hand, many of Love’s (mostly botched) murders were in the name of saving her family, like her teenage tryst, Theo (Dylan Arnold) and his sexy step-mom, Natalie (Michaela McManus), whose flirtations had Love convinced that divorce was on the horizon. So at least she did it for…love?
Then there’s Joe, who faked Love’s suicide and then literally burned down their family home and symbolic white picket fence. (You’ve got to give him points for symbolism, no?)
Love may have poisoned Joe, but Joe did kill the mother of his child. Joe has countless other bodies in his past, but Love locked her neighbors in a glass cage for days on end.
It’s easy to see why these two are neck in neck in the battle for who’s the worst. So let’s get to it: Who is better, Love or Joe? We debate below!
JOHN P. FLEENOR/NETFLIX © 2021
Joe Is the Better Person – Samantha Bergeson
Hear me out: Joe is dark, despicable and….damaged. He did not grow up in the lap of luxury like Love Quinn did, nor does Joe fantasize about a life of wealth and privilege. Instead, Joe merely craves the romanticism found in his favorite novels, still seeking an escape from his reality regardless of how idyllic it seems to be on the surface. It’s Joe who knows what it means—and what it takes—to protect the people he loves. You know, when he’s not killing them out of a warped sense of protection.
Joe murdering Love was out of pity, resentment and even self-defense. Joe knew neither he nor Love could properly raise Henry, and thus Joe did what he does best: kill the life he thought he wanted.
It’s this third season that finally let us into Joe’s psyche and see that he’s more vulnerable, for better or worse. Love broke all of her vows—she was unfaithful, not there in sickness or in health (remember when Joe had measles?) and also was A MURDERER.
Love’s kills were out of passion, less calculated and therefore messier. I see the roots of Joe’s insecurities around other men and why his inner monologue is so condescendingly righteous, but I also empathize with his plight. How do you become better than your parents while carrying the weight of their damage? And lest we forget, Joe sends Ellie money while she’s in hiding. He doesn’t forget those who didn’t wrong him.
Joe also had the self-awareness to know that he and Love could never raise Henry forever without contaminating him, too. Love’s own wants clouded her judgment, when it came to both parenting and killing. She was too much of a risk because she was too attuned to her emotions; her every decision was rash and misguided. At least Joe premeditated his murders and planned out why, how and when he would attack.
Despite the couple arguably being soulmates, Joe and Love could never last. Their shared childhood traumas and deep desire to create (and maintain) the perfect marriage proved that two murderers does not make one happy family. Joe saw Love for who she truly was, but he still hasn’t fully confronted himself. At least I can say that Joe never desperately tried to salvage something he never had, unlike Love, who is still chasing ghosts even from beyond the grave.
Victoria Pedretti Hopes “You” Character Teaches Self Love
Love Is the Better Person – Alyssa Ray
Yes, Love came from a background of privilege, but that doesn’t mean her upbringing was without trauma. After watching her brother be abused by the au pair and her father’s constant infidelity, Love took it upon herself to be the sole protector of her family. This unbreaking dedication to her loved ones carried into adulthood, and resulted in Love being taken advantage by every person in her life. Whether it was her toxic parents utilizing her as a show pony or her twin brother Forty letting her clean up, well, all of his messes, Love was required to be the only steady member of the Quinn family.
In fact, even Love’s first husband let her be his caretaker during a cancer battle only to leave her when he went into remission. So while I don’t condone murder, I can certainly understand how Love was pushed to take drastic action. She’s not evil, she’s just exhausted by frequently being mistreated.
Then there’s Joe Goldberg, an idealistic, superior stalker who put Love on a pedestal, only to reject her like every other person in her life when she showed the darker parts of her personality. In contrast, Love fully accepted Joe for who he was: a manipulative murderer.
Now, I’m not saying Love was an inherently good person, but I do believe that she was honest about who she was and what she wanted out of life—something Joe failed to do throughout three seasons of You.
When Joe and Love learned they were having a baby boy instead of girl, Joe struggled to embrace his child, as he had romanticized the idea of being a girl dad. The way he always wanted to be a hero for the ladies he obsessed over, he was ready to do that for his daughter. Love on the other hand? Instead of worrying about how life should be, she leaned all in, providing a beautiful home for herself and her family.
Although some may call Love a hypocrite for breaking her vows while killing Joe’s latest obsession, I see it more as a reaction to the loneliness she felt while married to Joe, who clearly despised her.
Love may be a reactive and rash person, but she’s definitely better than Joe, a man that routinely displayed sociopathic tendencies.
Seasons one through three of You are available to stream on Netflix.
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