You S3

Penn Badgley in You.
Penn Badgley in You.
Photo: John P. Fleenor/Netflix


You S3




4/5 Stars


In Season 3, Joe and Love, now married and raising their baby, have moved to the balmy Northern California enclave of Madre Linda, where they're surrounded by privileged tech entrepreneurs, judgmental mommy bloggers, and Insta-famous biohackers. Joe is committed to his new role as a husband and dad but fears Love's lethal impulsiveness. And then there's his heart. Could the woman he's been searching for all this time live right next door? Breaking out of a cage in a basement is one thing. But the prison of a picture-perfect marriage to a woman who's wise to your tricks? Well, that'll prove a much more complicated escape.


Obsessive. Manipulative. Psychotic. Joe (Penn Badgley) is not a character one expects to feel any sympathy for or even to be the captivating star of one of Netflix's biggest shows. Starting out on broadcast television until finally moving exclusively to the streaming giant, Joe snuck up and captured the attention of millions of fans, with his broody nice guy facade and his delusional ability to justify his stalking and killing to himself and his 'imaginary' audience. While You has followed a specific pattern in the first two seasons - boy bumps into girl falls madly in love and starts stalking and manipulating her life while trying to escape his past - season 3 somewhat deviates from that winning recipe to a darker and more twisted path. This sets Joe up to fully realise his psychopathic potential - alongside a woman just as demented as he is.

Escaping the vapid LA lifestyle, he loathed with every fibre of his being, Joe and Love (Victoria Pedretti) set up shop in suburbia with their newborn. While trying to fit in as parents with the world of athleisure and mom influencers, both Joe and Love start cracking under the pressure to be a normal family as their deadly passions start to erode everything they touch.

What sets season 3 apart from the previous two seasons is Love, who has become as much a main character as Joe. Despite trying to deny his compatibility with her, she is his perfect compliment, as obsessed with their passions and willing to do anything for them. He has fallen out of love with her hard, highlighting his inability to marry the lofty, idealised version he builds up of the women around him to the actual reality of who they are. Yet Love is more of a mirror to his own darkness; a darkness he rationalises away by putting all the blame for his actions on her. The show drips with that irony, and becomes one of the major elements that make this show so watchable.

But why are we so obsessed with a serial killer that embodies every woman's truest nightmare when it comes to the modern dating world? It's pretty easy to spot the red flags with outwardly visible sleazeballs, but we're way more scared of the seemingly "nice guys" that are better at hiding their awfulness under sweet platitudes. Despite placing Joe as the protagonist in the series, You walks a fine line between glamorising a psychopathic killer and demonising him. You don't walk away feeling any sympathy for him, despite his revealing backstories of why he is the way he is, yet you can't help to hope that he finds some level of happiness.

However, I don't know if the series' success would be what it is without Penn Badgley - the man behind the sweet, innocent face of Joe Goldberg. A multidimensional actor, he can switch between the charm of an adoring husband to a flirting philanderer to a violent killer at the drop of a hat. If you think the previous seasons were wild, season 3 shaves off many more layers to Joe, his true self edging closer and closer to the surface, and luckily Badgley is up to the task to deliver those changes in Joe. One could say that Love brings out the worst in him, but really she's just peeling back his mask. Played by The Haunting of Hill House star Victoria Pedretti, she was more than up to the task of helming the show alongside Joe, very apt at giving her performances an edge when her own mask starts unravelling. She has an anxious urgency to her acting style that's similar in her earlier shows, and it drives Love's growing insecurities around her relationship with her husband.

As for Joe's new muse, there are too many spoilers to dive too deep into her, but what I can say is that she's quite different to Guinevere Beck, Candace and Love. Where they hid their brokenness from the world, this muse's failings are visible to the world, and she hides nothing about herself. It's interesting that Joe would fall for that honesty - something he lacks heavily in himself - but it also meant that he never built up some idealised dreamgirl of her that could be torn down, like with Love.

While some form of the winning recipe is still retained in You's newest season to keep you glued, it's tweaked and twisted just enough to keep the audience from getting bored. Even its most famous narrative device gets a bit of a revamp. Joe's internal monologues usually are only ever directed at one person - his newest obsession - but as Joe struggles to accept who he is, the 'you' keeps changing until it finally settles on one person. This helps to keep you on your toes, never knowing what the next episode will hold, and we even end on a bit of cliffhanger as they plant the seeds for what's sure to be another explosive season. I cannot wait.


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