In a since-removed Instagram story, Brown revealed that she just started the Lifetime-turned-Netflix series, and is completely hooked on the romance between Joe and aspiring writer Beck (Elizabeth Lail).
"So I just started that new show You," the actress says. "He's not creepy, he's in love with her and it's okay!"
Except, umm, it's really not okay. Bookstore manager Joe is definitively a stalker whose obsession with Beck routinely places him on the spectrum between "seriously problematic" to "straight-up psycho killer." The show puts us inside Joe's mind from the get-go as he does everything from steal Beck's phone to read her messages, break into her apartment to gather intel, and, oh yeah — murder the people in her life whom he does not believe are "worthy" of her.
Brown is, apparently, well aware of what everyone thinks of Joe. She just doesn't really care.
"I know everybody is gonna say 'Ahhh, he's a stalker, why would you support that?!' But like, he's in love with her! Just watch the show and don't judge me on my opinion," she said.
In Brown's defence, she did say she just started You. Maybe she's gushing over the very first scene, before Joe commits any acts of fraud in the name of love. In which case, dear lord, let's hope she changes her tune by the time Joe takes out that book mallet. Badgley himself has warned against fans romanticising his character. And so has Shay Mitchell, telling Refinery29, "You can romanticise elements of his character, but if you romanticise his entire outlook on life, then that might be an issue."
But let's say that she is far enough into the series to see Joe in action: She would hardly be alone in misreading Joe's toxic, dangerous obsession as "romantic." You tap dances on the edge of every romantic comedy trope — and does so on purpose. A character who follows the object of his affection in a rom-com is seen as devoted, not creepy. But when you look at those actions through the lens of real-life — in which a woman certainly can't consent to being followed — you realise the problematic aspects of the romance narratives pop culture continues to feed us.
It's worth mentioning that Brown is only 14 — if she defends Joe on You, it may be because she hasn't had the chance to examine such problematic stories in her life yet. Fans on Twitter stood up for the Netflix actress, calling upon the world to educate her, rather than slam her for her misguided opinions.
thinking overly obsessive attitudes is love and romantic is so easy to believe when young bc how would you know different unless taught??? put me in millie bobby brown’s shoes all those years ago & I’d be the same EDUCATE— yassie 🥀 (@BelIaLestrange) January 15, 2019
sorry but the calling out and ‘cancelling’ of literal 14 year old millie bobby brown for having a naive and immature view on a tv show makes me uncomfortable. shes 14 you imbeciles what she needs is educating and time to grow— bea (@reydanys) January 15, 2019
Millie Bobby Brown's take on the stalker character from 'You' just goes to show how young and naive she is and how y'all need to stop treating her like she's a mature young adult when she's literally a 14 yr old kid smh— - ̗̀megan ̖́- (@megancinema) January 15, 2019
It's possible that watching more of the series might actually open her eyes: By the end of the season, there is no question that Joe's obsession with Beck is unhealthy, dangerous, and an example of the insidious ways men attempt to exert control over women.
This ain't a love story, MBB. But keep watching and you may just realise that on your own.