You‘s second season ended with the revelation that Love (Victoria Pedretti) had been responsible for more than a few murders of her own. Instead of ending her life, as the obsessive Joe (Penn Badgely) tends to do with his love interests, he saves her out of duty to his unborn child. The last shot of the sophomore season is of the new family moving into an idyllic suburban home.
The third season picks up just a few months later in the married domestic life of the murderous pairing of Love and Joe. They now live in Madre Linda, an idyllic town in leafy Northern California. Love adapts well to this new community, making friends with their neighbours and starting her own bakery. Joe is determined to repress her murderous urges, so he can be a good role model for his son.
Luckily for anyone concerned about watching ten episodes of Joe being well-behaved suburban dad, fear not. The villainous voiceover continues, demonstrating once again how Badgley pitch perfect is as he straddles the line between charming and creepy. His inner dialogue continues to work as a conscience, rationalising his behaviour to a point where you start to root for him. It turns out Joe’s behaviour isn’t the one you should be watching as Love starts to show her true colours.
Season three further explores Joe’s new partner with the return of Love’s heartless rich mother Dottie (Saffron Burrows) and her ‘glam-ma’ visits. To highlight how disturbed she is, she believes that Henry is the reincarnation of her late son Forty, who passed away at the end of the previous season. Her drunken behaviour is so unhinged, even for Goldberg. It’s somehow impressive that Love isn’t an even more terrible human, which is a running theme in You. Rich people, like the Quinn family, behave badly and throw money at any issue.
The new move has Love coming out of her shell, revealing her true colours to an extent that almost scares Joe. We are given more context about her past and her family, Dottie included, helping flesh out her character. Furthermore, we also get more reveals about Joe’s childhood through smartly integrated flashbacks. Despite exploring the trauma that led to the couple becoming so damaged, it never excuses their behaviour.
Season three of You brought an impressive new ensemble, who may or may not all be potential victims for Joe and Love. Scott Speedman (Animal Kingdom) and Dylan Arnold (Halloween) play father and son neighbours to Joe and Love. The tech family will make you never want to use a ring doorbell every again (or hear the distinctive noise). Tati Gabrielle (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) also joins the cast as Marienne, a possible new interest for Joe as he struggles to settle down with Love. Shalita Grant (Search Party) and Travis Van Winkle (The Last Ship) steal the show as the self-obsessed influencer couple Sherry and Cary. For Sherry and Cary, they reflect everything wrong with society; every social event or local tragedy is used to gain followers and screen time.
You smartly satirises the self-made smugness of the middle and upper classes. Joe’s neighbourhood is filled with tech entrepreneurs, judgemental mummy bloggers and fitness-obsessed parents who limit their children’s diet to an unhealthy amount. These characters are satirical enough for you to hate but human enough for you to almost feel sorry for when Joe reverts to his usual behaviour. When a tragedy strikes in suburbia, the community appears to gain attention with everyone trying to one-up each other and use it to forward their careers. The insincerity of the innocent is so irritating, you’ll almost wish Joe and Love would kill more, and quickly.
The writers have fun skewering these modern stereotypes, including the less than subtle dig at anti-vaxxers. In an episode where Joe and Love’s son, Henry Forty, contracts measles, the show relishes in calling out the neighbours who don’t think it is necessary to vaccinate their children. It never tries to be subtle, but it’s certainly amusing, if not, scarily accurate of the mentality of those who think the natural sugar in fruit is dangerous.
You is never predictable. Once you think you know what direction it is going in, it twists and goes somewhere completely new. This show could have so easily have stuck to the formula of the first two seasons, instead, it keeps audiences guessing. Thankfully, the plot doesn’t wallow too much on Love and Joe’s dysfunctional relationship. The writers know that you’re not watching to see their couple’s therapy.
The change is scenery has stopped You from feeling stale. The pacing is quick and the twists rarely expected. The third season of this Netflix show continues to be a bingeable delight. Backed by smart writing and a charming performance from Penn Badgely, You is an enjoyable takedown of the privileged smugness of the suburban middle classes. Looks like Joe Goldberg has finally met his match.
You Season Three will stream exclusively on Netflix from October 15th
by Amelia Harvey
Amelia is a freelance writer, frustrated novelist and occasional wrangling of international students. She is especially interested in LBGTQ culture and 1960s and 70s music. She also writes for Frame Rated, The People’s Movies and Unkempt Magazine, amongst others. Her favourite films include Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Moulin Rouge and Closer. You can find her on Twitter @MissAmeliaNancy and letterboxd @amelianancy