You, Series 2, Netflix
“You” has been one of Netflix’s greatest hits. It is summed up very simply by the Netflix PR blurb: “Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Boy obsesses over girl. Just how far will boy go to get girl?” But it’s darker than that. Far darker. In fact, it’s so dark that I’m starting to question whether this show should ever have been made.
As Season 1 finished I began to think it was almost bringing stalking into the mainstream. It almost legitimises it. And three episodes into Series 2, I’ve given up on it. I just find it too disturbing. It is based on a 2014 novel by Caroline Kepnes and centres around a nice Jewish boy called Joe Goldberg who works in a bookstore and falls head over heels for one of his customers, Guinevere Beck. He becomes totally obsessed by her.
The first clue we get as to the darkness ahead is when we see him on the street outside her house, looking through the window and watching her and her boyfriend have sex. And while he does so, he masturbates. Believe me, that’s the least of it. Without giving any more away, he then feeds his obsession using technology to track her whole existence and remove obstacles to their relationship. He holds hostage or kills anyone who gets in his way.
Disturbing doesn’t cover it. Series 2 moves from New York to California, where he’s escaped to, taking on a new identity. But he just can’t stop himself.
I’m very surprised the feminist lobby isn’t up in arms that this series is on Netflix, let alone commissioned for a third series in 2021. If it makes me feel wholly uncomfortable watching it, goodness knows what it does for any woman who has ever been stalked or subjected to any form of misogynist behaviour. I can’t watch it anymore.
For full disclosure, I am a presenter at a rival to talkRadio. Ten days ago, Iain Lee’s contract with them wasn’t renewed. He had presented their late night show since the launch of the station four years ago. Depending on your viewpoint he can be categorised as one of the most original radio presenters of the last decade or so, or you just don’t “get” him. It is certainly true that his shows are unlike any others in that in these days of formats and predictability he is the total opposite. You never quite know what he’s going to say or do next. He’s a programme controller’s nightmare.
On a station which has struggled to make an impact in terms of increasing its audience he was, along with Julia Hartley-Brewer, one of very few points of listening interest. He attracted an audience, and indeed phone-calls, in a way most of the other shows on the station have struggled to.
The thing is, he can also do mainstream. He was a brilliant presenter of the morning show on BBC Three Counties Radio, but came to grief when he took on a homophobic caller and called her out for the disgusting things she was saying. If I had done that on my show, I would have been praised by my bosses. His reward was to be suspended and then let go.
Since then Lee’s marriage has failed and he has been open about his struggle with mental health issues. He had a breakdown live on air a few months ago.
Yes, he’s hot to handle, but talents like his must not be lost to the world of radio. I hope his phone rings soon.
Confessions with Giles Fraser, Unherd
Giles Fraser is not everyone’s cup of tea. Let’s face it, few people in the public eye are. However, on the surface he appears to delight in going against the grain on most things. It’s not that he’s a professional controversialist in the Rod Liddle sense of the word, but he doesn’t half make you re-evaluate your views.
As a man of the cloth that is part of his role, but he takes it to the Nth degree on a lot of moral and political questions. He would no doubt self-describe as a man of the left, but he’s not blind to the left’s deficiencies. I’ll admit I used to find him intensely irritating, but when he came out as a Brexiteer I started to listen more to what he had to say on other issues, which says a lot more about me than him.
I started to listen to his Confessions podcast and became addicted to it. I swear you’ll find no better podcast interviewer than him. The essence of the podcast is not, as you might think, to get the interviewee to confess all their sins, but to get them to talk in depth about their life and motivations. Having said that, when I appeared on the podcast, I did talk about one or two things I had never discussed before. We both got a bit emotional at one point after one particular revelation.
And that’s the thing about Giles Fraser. He doesn’t interview his subjects. He has an intimate conversation with them. He lulls you into a comfort zone in which you tell him things you might not tell other people. His episode with Maurice Glasman was one of the finest podcasts I have heard for a long time. I warn you now, though. If you listen to that one you’ll become an addict and feel the need to go through the entire back catalogue. You won’t regret it.