Should you watch Netflix’s You for the stalking, love triangles, intercourse scandals, betrayals, and shock murders, you are not alone. These are all qualities that make for good TV drama, and we watch exhibits like You as an escape from our personal worlds. However as I watched the third season, which dropped Oct. 15, one storyline had me crashing proper again to actuality. You addressed Lacking White Lady Syndrome, a phenomenon that not too long ago resurfaced in American mainstream information protection after the August 2021 homicide of Gabby Petito.
In season three, episode three of You, after Joe’s (Penn Badgley) and Love’s (Victoria Pedretti) “pleasant” neighbor Natalie Engler (Michaela McManus) “mysteriously” goes lacking, librarians Marienne (Tati Gabrielle) and Dante (Ben Mehl) briefly educate Joe on Lacking White Lady Syndrome (MWWS). The time period refers back to the heightened media protection surrounding missing-person circumstances involving younger, white, higher or middle-class ladies or ladies, and the way it too usually eclipses the protection of lacking ladies who usually are not white, who’re of decrease socioeconomic standing, and likewise circumstances of lacking males and boys. As Marienne laid out the phenomenon to Joe, I could not assist however assume: should not You – and also you, and I, and everybody – be speaking about this extra? How had You’s storylines and casting up till this level performed into, and even capitalized on, MWWS?
As a journalist finding out journal, information, and digital journalism, it is not misplaced on me that MWWS is fueled by mainstream information. If anybody goes lacking, they seem to be a sufferer of a horrible crime, however that sentiment solely appears to return throughout on main information networks when the sufferer in query is a gorgeous, younger, white lady. In these specific circumstances, you possibly can count on common primetime protection of the case, which fascinates viewers. Because the case goes viral, it galvanizes the general public to become involved, which, in flip, places strain on the native authorities to seek out the sufferer. Within the case of Gabby Petito, as much as 9 different our bodies of lacking folks (a few of whom have been POC) have been found by means of the September searches for Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie.
This phenomenon hardly ever happens when the sufferer is a Black, brown, or Indigenous lady, nonetheless. There’s little or no to no mainstream media consideration paid to them – no pictures on the key information networks, no reporters exterior their home asking their households for remark, and no information helicopters flying overhead to comply with search events’ progress. Why aren’t these folks lined within the media with the identical vigor?
In accordance with Jean Murley, an English professor at Queensborough Neighborhood School and scholar of true crime, the disproportionate response is rooted within the nation’s historical past of racism. “There’s one thing in regards to the lacking younger, lovely white lady that has a variety of symbolic weight in America. It is an aberration, and it turns into a container for issues just like the lack of innocence or the dying of purity,” Murley advised The New Yorker. “True crime appears to need to inform itself, and us, tales about white folks. White hazard . . . that is white America telling itself a narrative about hazard and violence and womanhood, when the very fact is that almost all murder victims on this nation are younger males of colour, and people tales do not get advised, by and enormous. They only get ignored, they get trivialized.”
So how does this relate to You? Properly, for starters, You will be interpreted as a fictionalized account of what leads as much as the true crime tales we obsess over. Whereas we could by no means know a perpetrator’s true motives for his or her crimes in actual life, You offers us all of the solutions we search, however usually do not get, in real-life true crime eventualities.
Reflecting on Lacking White Lady Syndrome, it would not really feel like a coincidence that, up till this season, all of Joe’s obsessions – Candace, Beck, Love, and Natalie – have been white ladies. Whether or not these casting selections have been aware or unconscious, they in the end bolstered the biases white Individuals maintain about what kind of individual can grow to be the obsession of a felony like Joe Goldberg.
Whereas You will not repair the nation’s MWWS downside, the casting of Tati Gabrielle, a Black lady, as Joe’s central obsession in season three felt like a step in the fitting course. Solely casting white ladies as Joe’s obsessions did the present and its viewers a disservice by enjoying into our nation’s obsession with true crime that facilities white ladies. Centering a Black lady as the topic of Joe’s harmful machinations is a much-needed reminder that ladies of colour can and do fall sufferer to the identical crimes because the white ladies we most frequently see centered in true crime tales. Hopefully, with extra dialog, the mainstream information media will comply with swimsuit.