Netflix has just announced that You is renewed for a fourth season, with fans ecstatic that the TV series is continuing. However, I can’t help but question whether the series has reached its sell-by date.
The series is based on an American psychological thriller novel by Caroline Kepnes which follows protagonist Joe Goldberg (played by Penn Badgley) and his many, many fatal incidents caused by mixing business with pleasure. The first season was released in September 2018, and was a success for Netflix, as the debut series was on track to receive an astonishing 40 million viewers in its first four weeks. The second season came along Boxing Day 2019 and received the same hype, with the sequel bagging positive reviews from critics. Due to Covid-19, the third season was postponed. However, it finally aired on October 15 2021.
Having been a major fan of both previous seasons and managing to binge-watch each series within a couple of days of their release dates, I assumed the same would apply with season 3. To my surprise, and slight disappointment, I didn’t manage to binge-watch all the episodes in a day or two. I expected myself to be watching the episodes back-to-back; however, it was quite the opposite. In fact, I found myself struggling to sit through them, and rather than watching them for pleasure, it felt like more of a chore going through each 45-minute episode.
I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to sink into it and if I, a relatively huge fan of the show, had lost interest in the new series, then surely others share the same frustration. So, I decided to ask my friends, whom I know are obsessed with ‘You’ to see if they had a similar reaction to the new season. One said that she was satisfied with how the series ended and enjoyed the gripping plot twist; however, she did prefer the first two seasons, but overall didn’t have a strong opinion towards it.
People took to Reddit to share their views, good and bad, with one anonymous contributor claiming that the show was becoming too repetitive; that although new characters are introduced, the series shares a similar plot to the previous two. They accurately described my opinion as I feel that the plot is recycled from past seasons. Even the psychopath himself, Joe Goldberg, looks like he’s fed up with murdering.
A Second Chance
I concluded that perhaps I was being too harsh and gave the show a second chance. Whilst powering through this season, I strongly felt that a fourth season is unnecessary. Giving a series multiple seasons is always risky, as it could potentially lose its novelty and reputation. Riverdale is a good example of this. How can a show that can just about make it to two seasons end up lasting six? I was a loyal spectator of that show and even I couldn’t bear another season.
Close to giving up, I reminded myself of how invested I am in the plot. I was also curious to know how it all ends and wondered HOW IS JOE STILL NOT DEAD? HOW IS HE NOT IN JAIL? The fact that he keeps getting away with it is a bit far-fetched (I mean the whole plot is far-fetched, but even this is unrealistic for an American psychological thriller).
I can confidently say my favourite season was the first. The whole plot was new and gripping, leaving you on the edge of your seat. It even had a clever backstory, and the only character given a happy ending was the creepy killer himself, which I really liked as the usual plot of a show follows the classic ‘innocent victim gets away’ whereas in this scenario, it’s the killer who gets away with it, whilst the good guy tragically dies. And a second season was definitely necessary. We the audience had a taste of the show and were ready for another bite.
The second series shows Joe’s fresh start with a clean slate, as he changes his name and identity as well as a move to LA. He of course then falls in love with Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti), an aspiring chef, who reignites his passion for stalking women and killing anyone that gets in the way. This takes a shocking turn when Love herself announces that she too has a thirst for obsession and murder, which was an incredibly unexpected plot twist that set the tone for the third season. The very last scene showed Joe peeking at his neighbour which foreshadowed that his obsessive streak was yet finished. Initially, I thought “come on, not again”. However, I couldn’t help but feel excited that a possible entanglement would happen with his next-door neighbour.
So, until then, I looked forward to the new season finally appearing on Netflix. After watching the first episode, I felt drained of the whole plot. And so I started giving up on Joe and his antics. The whole season was a slow burner, which is usually effective and was worth the wait. However, in this case, it was a great risk. That’s because many viewers may stop watching due to the first half.
As the season progressed, we saw an outstanding performance from both Penn and Victoria. Furthermore, their characters’ relationship reminded me of Mr & Mrs Smith. That being a classic husband and wife plotting to kill one another. The plot was disturbingly clever, and I couldn’t help but sympathise with the villain. Joe had come a long way and pulled off previous stunts. So, you wanted to see him get away with this too. Throughout this season, we experienced Joe’s childhood and the puzzle of his issues came together; even Joe himself gained self-awareness.
The personal narrative in the final voiceover effectively tied it all together. Indeed, it was a perfect way to end the hit series. The ending was bittersweet how some survived, and although they never found closure, they found each other, along with peace. They included a final scene where Joe clearly hasn’t learnt from his lessons, which finished the episode with an opening for a further plot in the fourth season.
Whilst Penn Badgley is a talented actor with much more ahead of him, it’s time for Joe Goldberg to retire.
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