Review of Netflix’s Third Season of “You”


Gourav Singh

Promo poster of “You” Courtesy of Netflix

Delaney Cram, Opinion Editor

*Spoilers for Seasons One and Two in the following review. Read with caution.*

  It’s been quite some time since Netflix has released any new seasons of well-loved shows. Following coronavirus shutdowns in early 2020, the streaming service cancelled many hit shows such as “The Society, “The Order,” and “I Am Not Okay With This on the basis that actors would be too old to reprise their roles. While new content has been released since then, such as the overwhelmingly successful “Squid Game,” I think I can speak for many others when I say we were craving new installments of our old favorites, if anything to just get back to normalcy. On Oct. 15 of this year, Netflix has answered the pleas of fans by making the third season of the “You” series available for streaming.

  With the first season coming out in 2018, the show built a reputation for shocking twists, gruesome violence, and mercilessly cutting down members of the main cast. Yet, the most horrifying and addicting part of the series is its portrayal of the main character, Joe Goldberg (played by Penn Badgley), and how he is simultaneously the protagonist and antagonist of the story.

  Joe works in the restoration of old and rare books. He is quiet and polite, yet observant. He picks up on people, especially children, suffering in bad situations and he offers help in any way he can, whether it’s giving up his dinner or offering a ride home. He also, from time to time, brutally murders people.

  I’ve heard people compare this show to “Dexter” (2006-2013), another series about a “moral” serial killer. However, what’s different about Dexter and Joe is that while the former kills other terrible people in a twisted sense of righteousness, Joe kills based on what’s convenient for him. As we saw in seasons one and two, he picked off people standing in his way when it came to his relationships with Beck (played by Elizabeth Lail) and Love (played by Victoria Pedretti), regardless of the innocence of these people. This quality of Joe can make him very unlikeable, however, he seemed to have been turning over a new leaf at the end of season two. Until, of course, we see his old obsessions start to build again when he says, “Hello….neighbor,” right before the closing credits.

  This new season of “You” promised to be better than any season we’ve seen before, with Joe’s two polar sides coming to a forced meeting. After all, he has a kid now and we get to see the familial side of him which I thought was really interesting since we haven’t seen him have any relationships where he can be fully honest before. However, this also means that he has to confront the things that he and Love are capable of, which of course means a lot more violence and tension.

  Joe and Love tackling parenthood is probably the most light-hearted and strangely tender moments of the show, however as we get to the later episodes, they start to stray from that aspect a little and focus on the obvious gouges in their relationship. While the extra tension is understandable for their characters and where they are in their journey, I found it harder to watch just because it started to stress me out. I think one of the worst tropes that many storylines fall prey to is a lack of communication between characters being the root of drama and, unfortunately, we don’t quite avoid that here. Still, it definitely kept the plot moving and had viewers hanging off the edge of their seats to see how it would all play out.

  One thing that season three of “You” reprised from its earlier seasons is the near constant narration from Joe, which essentially makes this one of the few shows from the first-person point of view. I actually really like this quirk that “You” follows because it isn’t like the characters are breaking the fourth wall. Joe isn’t talking to the audience, but rather he is talking to whichever girl he is currently infatuated with. Watching this latest season, I really noticed that for the first time and realized that he only narrates to the girls he obsesses with and who he is talking to actually changes a few times throughout this season. He narrates about other girls, even girls that he was or is in a relationship with, yet never calls them by pronouns of “you.” We never hear him narrate directly to Candace nor to Karen in season one. I thought this was actually a very clever way to tip the audience off about who he was currently pining after, as it sometimes gets confusing.

  Another thing that season three brought back was dead characters. Whether through illness, crushing guilt, or drug abuse, Joe always manages to induce some kind of hallucination where he confronts characters who are now dead. While I understand how a suspension of disbelief can make these confrontations engaging and quicken the plot or character development, I always find it jarring. To me, it feels like it’s breaching reality a little too much and it’s merely to give actors who had characters killed off a chance to reappear in later episodes. Still, I will admit that not all of these appearances are completely pointless and it does lead to a very heartfelt moment.

  All in all, “You” accomplishes something remarkable in that it made a character so dark and sick in the most terrible way somehow compelling. They gave him an arc that doubles back on itself, crisscrosses, tangents, and knots itself impossibly. We despise him and we root for him and we keep coming back for more.

  While season three has some mild flaws, it is, overall, a worthwhile show and, if nothing else, “You” will never be accused of being predictable.