Updated: Nov 4
For three consecutive weeks, Squid Game sat at the number one spot on Netflix’s most popular list. It was quickly dethroned on October 15 when the third season of You came out. You is a psychological thriller that has gained a cult following since its first season in 2018. What makes this show different from other series Netflix has to offer?
When the first season came out, it immediately gained a large following, and understandably so. It isn’t your typical romantic drama with cheesy meet-cutes. The series is dark and unpredictable, resulting in most of its viewers binging it in one sitting. You originally premiered on Lifetime TV, and after the first season, it was picked up by Netflix. That allowed for more people to watch the show because, well, who still watches Lifetime TV?
At the end of season two, right before Joe (Penn Badgley) attempted to kill Love (Victoria Pedretti), she revealed that she was pregnant. That caused them to stay together, even though Joe had no intention of keeping their relationship alive.
Season three picks up after Joe and Love marry and move to the bland, bay area suburb of Madre Linda. Their baby boy, Henry Forty Quinn Goldberg is born. But the birth of their son isn't enough to keep their relationship alive. It immediately turns one-sided; Love actually loves Joe while he is busy reverting back to his obsessive tendencies, which he successfully suppressed upon meeting Love in season two.
In the first episode, Joe fixates on his neighbor Natalie (Michaela McManus). Joe stalks his new obsession, but he quits before he gets too invested. Love discovers his new obsession with Natalie and is infuriated. She begins having second thoughts about the man who she thought she married. In a fit of rage, Love takes an ax to Natalie’s head. When she tells Joe, he too begins to have second thoughts on the person he married. Together, they cover up Natalie’s murder and play it off as a missing person case.
This season, in particular, we see an emerging incongruous dynamic between the two. Love feels as if Joe doesn’t love her anymore and vice versa. As the season goes on, Joe's lack of love for his wife becomes more apparent, and Love feeling unwanted causes her to lash out as she did with Natalie.
She even goes as far as to have an affair with Theo (Dylan Arnold), their nineteen-year-old neighbor and Natalie’s stepson. Joe is also having an affair with his co-worker Marienne (Tati Gabrielle). He is attracted to her because she possesses qualities such as empathy and attentiveness that Love lacks. She also isn’t a murderer, and that is a major green flag for Joe.
Throughout the entire season, the narration switches between Love’s perspective and Joe’s perspective. In previous seasons, only Joe’s internal monologue was present, which made it a lot easier for us to root for him, and only him. Now that Love has an internal monologue, it makes the viewers question who they should be rooting for.
The season finale is by far the strongest episode. All the little details from earlier come to a head. Love finds out about Joe and Marienne’s affair and tries to poison Joe. Her sad attempt at murder troubles him because Love was also having an affair, so he poisons her back, resulting in Love's death. Get it? Love dies. Ironic, right?
An aspect of the show I appreciated more upon watching the new season is the use of connotative names. The writers do a fantastic job of connecting the personalities of each character to their name. Names like Guinevere Beck and Love Quinn add interest to their characters. Their names draw the viewers in contrast to a name like Joe Goldberg. Joe's boring name allows him to blend into his environment. It's a small detail, but it makes a greater impact on the outcome than anticipated.
Killing off Love was a bold choice for the writers to make. The loss of a main character evokes a hearty dose of emotion in the viewers. This isn’t the first time, either; in season one, Joe killed Beck, and in season two, Forty overdoses. There is no guarantee that viewers would want to come back to a show after a major character was killed off. The writing throughout the series is consistently strong and dubious. In season two, Joe successfully relocates to a different state and surrounds himself with a different set of characters who are arguably more interesting than the first cast.
Season three introduces several interesting characters. There are more episodes including Love’s mom Dottie (Saffron Burrows), and she seems like the straw that broke the camel’s back when it comes to Joe and Love’s marriage. There's also Marienne, the subject of Joe’s obsession. The ending alludes to the fact that there will be a season four, which has been confirmed, and there are some hints that this isn’t the last time her character will be featured.
As someone with a short attention span, I appreciate that Joe moves from place to place and gets involved with new characters every season. Although I grow attached to characters like Forty and Paco, the story must move on. Like any good stalker, Joe hangs around just long enough to not get caught.