Lady Macbeth, oops, Lady Love labels literature-loving Joe Goldberg a psycho, so how does he manifest into the hero Shakespeare never romanticised?
Love Quinn (played by Victoria Pedretti) continually calls out Joe (played by Penn Badgley) for his psychotic murder spree yet fails to spill water – or blood, considering her tendencies – on the infinite times the show heroises him: as a baby, love-digger, daddy, or hubby.
He Survives “Mommy Issues”
Joe’s traumas sink soundly within our skins. His time at the shelter was awash with kids cornering and questioning, “what you gonna do, Goldberg? He’s gonna cry. Just like he cries for his mommy in bed every night… she’s not coming for you. No one is coming to save you.” Even when his “mommy” does return, poor Joe painstakingly probes, “do you hate me?” But, we certainly hate her for sugar-coating her voluntary abandonment and sucking up to her new son, Jacob: “there’s nothing I’d rather do than be with you, buddy.”
No wonder Joe, our hero, fears for other sons suffering his fate, soliloquises “I cannot frame an innocent man. I can’t do it. I’d be killing a mockingbird,” and saves Mathew (Scott Speedman) from police scrutiny: “You can’t be there for Theo, if you’re behind bars!”
He Endures “Torture” For His Baby Mama
As a husband, Joe’s found routinely mopping Love’s bloodbaths: from Natalie’s (Michaela McManus) murder with an ax to loving neighbor Gil’s (Mackenzie Astin) hit-in-the-head, but soon forced suicide, Joe swipes right (not on Tinder, though, for his lust life’s far too flashing for that).
With his, “I did say I’d endure torture for you,” promise, he not only tolerates a sex date featuring mom-fluencer Sherry (Shalita Grant) and Cary Conrad (Travis Van Winkle) but also bows to Love’s, “I think we need to go to couples’ therapy,” diktat.
He Cuddles Kin Over Sin
As a father, he promises to leave sinhood for kinhood: “you get better. Just get better, I promise to be a man worthy of raising you.” He also awakens audiences to the true meaning of fatherhood, “what does it mean to be a good father? To protect, yes. But can you be a good father if you’re a bad man? It’s not the kind of father I wanna be and the kind of mother you wanna be. Thank God.”
He’s Willing to Die and Destroy For The Double Minority
Librarian Marianne (Tati Gabrielle) lusts for Joe even when drowning as a double-minority: Black and a single mother. But “never mind Alice and the Queen. You’re the red rose herself,” says Prince Charming Joe.
With his “not one to let bullies bully” mantra, he strides to save her from Ryan (Scott Michael Foster) the ex, despite the backlash: “you really had to run up here like some white knight and get in the middle of my shit?” He ultimately stalks Ryan as “he’s training for the asshole Olympics ….[and] gaslit his way to full custody…” and kills him to her (soon disclosed) relief.
Hey! Doesn’t Joe personify a male, white savior?
It’s not ironic that a white, privileged man with an affinity for inflicting affliction happens to be a hero. We answered how this manifests, but let’s conspiracy theorise why the creators are hell-bent on heroising him in the first place!
Why play for pity when Goldberg’s got foreplay? Why forgive him, flirt with him, and flaunt him?