Over the past few years, society’s obsession with murder-mystery podcasts, crime documentaries and thriller television shows has only increased exponentially. One in particular, Netflix’s “You”, starring actor Penn Badgley, uniquely takes the first-person perspective of the guilty, and has proven to be quite successful in drawing in and unsettling viewers.
The show is centered on charming book-nerd Joe, who also happens to be a serial stalker-- and killer. These possessive emotions arise as he meets new love interests and justifies his evil acts by means of ‘saving’ said them. In season one, it was Guinevere Beck, and in the second, it’s Love Quinn (ironically named).
Going into season two, I had high expectations. Season one, though it didn't do as well until Netflix began streaming it according to the New York Times, was a huge hit. With its thrilling plot twists, well-cast actors and addictive nature, it’s safe to say I was thrilled that a second season was announced soon after.
And it’s safe to say that my expectations were more than met.
The thrilling and sardonic atmosphere definitely carried over to the second season, if not multiplied. It started off with the basic same plot as season one, only with one key difference-- Joe wanted to be better, truly. As seen in his (still creepy) narration, he was determined to find love the right way. Although still committing a few murders on the path to true redemption, his take on love is much different with Love Quinn.
What made season two so different, and so much more successful, had a lot to do with Love’s character. Unlike Beck from season one, who was predictable and almost boring at times, Love is someone who knows exactly what she wants, and nothing that gets in her way will stop her. When the major plot twist happens, and it’s revealed that she committed Delilah’s murder, not Joe, viewers can really see just why the two broken souls of Love and Joe were brought together. Her character forces Joe to question everything, as well as face his past.
As the season progresses, more and more is uncovered about Joe’s childhood, and the abuse he faced. It’s more than just his teenage years from season one. We get to see his relationship with his parents (or lack thereof), the dangers of abuse on a child’s psyche and how children truly observe and model behavior even in adulthood. This really deepened the audience’s knowledge about Joe and makes it easier to empathize with him, despite his track record.
In addition to the main characters, the new ones, namely Forty, Delilah and especially Ellie, bring out a whole other side to Joe and prove to be pivotal to his path. The dynamic between him and Ellie especially is quite reminiscent of the one with Paco from season one. I think it was essential because it shows the more caring side of Joe and reiterated the idea that anyone can be a killer.
And finally, the ending: just when the audience thought Joe had reached a good, stable place in his life with Love, awaiting the birth of his child, and Ellie far away from him, a glimpse of his neighbor, a woman reading a book with a wedding ring, is shown, when the show ends. So the cycle of stalking women will continue, but this time, a lot more will be on the line in season three: his soon-to-be born child, and his murderous wife just to name a few things.
I think “You” really captured a point of view which hasn’t really been done a lot in the media. I would definitely rate this show a high nine out of ten. It makes the audience sympathize with Joe, but also hate him for killing other beloved characters. This constant grapple makes the show addictive, and leaves watchers wanting to know more about Joe and other characters’ futures, which will hopefully be addressed in season three. Not to mention, leave the audience wary of everyone they know and meet.