“You” Season Three Review


Emma Gill

“You” title with main characters Penn and Victoria

Sam Reeves, MVC Writer

There’s just something about You. Netflix’s hit murder-romance drama series, now back for a third season, You follows Joe Goldberg, a sophisticated stalker played by Penn Badgely. The show’s first two seasons followed a similar formula: Joe finds a girl to be hopelessly fixated on, and for ten episodes he uses all his levers of influence, no matter how blunt and bloody, to get his way with her. Season 2 saw the introduction of Victoria Pedretti’s Love Quinn, with whom Joe is now trapped in a marriage due to his new son Henry. Season 3, then, departs from the formula, as Joe must keep not just himself, but his whole family together.

Now set in the fictional upscale bay-area suburb Madre Linda, You’s third season takes Joe to new places and goes into what was previously unexplored territory for the show: normal life. Old dogs must learn new tricks. Joe has a child, a wife, a house, a Prius, and a warm, loving neighborhood to contend with. Joe finally has his lifelong companion, and their incompatibility replaces Joe’s previous fixations as a source of endless plot beats.

“You” on the Top 10 shows in the US today on Netflix (Emma Gill)

It’s a worthwhile watch. In 2021, showrunners are clearly aware of and taking advantage of the concept of “binge-watching,” and personally I don’t mind. Each episode flows into the next, internal cliffhangers make it impossible to click off. Like seasons 1 and 2, the humor works well to break tension and reward the viewer for their attention. The plot feels a bit seized towards the middle of the show; some subplots take up a lot of screen time for the sake of characterization and moving the main plot along, like Love’s affair with a new minor character Theo, or a measles outbreak which puts Joe and his neighbor on each other’s radar. These subplots aren’t bad, I generally enjoyed watching them, but they did feel like a speed bump.

“I have liked this season so far,” said Alivia Barnett, 12. “I found it very interesting seeing Joe have something to change his ways for and seeing him narrate to us his constant inner battle between his pull to find ‘the one’ and trying to be a good husband, father, etc.”

You concerns itself with more than stalking. Joe’s internal monologue is constantly running, constantly letting the viewer know how he sees the world, and constantly making judgements of those around him. The monologue, and other sources, offer tasteful amounts of social commentary in this season, ranging from topics like the pathology of diet-obsessed all-natural health nuts, social media data harvesting and privacy, or Missing White Woman Syndrome. It’s subtle, but enough to make the show’s world more charming and feel more real and relatable. 

Part of a “You” season 3 teaser poster (Emma Gill)

It’s not all smiles. Season 3 has a lot of ideas, and while most of them land, some of them don’t. This review would be incomplete without mention of the C-Word. We’re under 2 years in, the pandemic isn’t even confidently past-tense, and the entertainment media machine already can’t help but get its greasy paws on it. You is a show about people and social structures and incentive webs, about culture maybe, but what You should have stayed not being about is half-hearted virus jokes. They don’t land and they date-stamp the show in an exclusively bitter way. When characters say “coronavirus” or “COVID”, they say it with all the brevity and grace of middle schoolers trying curse words for the first time. I’m watching this show in a browser, but that doesn’t mean it has to feel like a YouTube video. 

Some minor writing quirks aside, You’s third season does not disappoint. It’s an experiment for the show, and it mostly works. If you enjoyed the first two seasons, I can be confident you’ll enjoy the third even though it’s different.