Nadine Syed Jefri
Warning: This contains spoilers for You Season 3.
You know, finding a show that manages to make you feel uncomfortable, yet still pulls you in, is not as common as you think it is.
The title You is already enough to draw watchers in from the first season. To recap quickly, this show tells the ongoing tale of a man by the name of Joe Goldberg, who seems like a normal guy. But, he’s really not a normal guy. Goldberg, played by Penn Badgley, is initially a bookseller who, to put it plainly, stalks women to an extreme extent. He would target certain women and overanalyze them: steal their things, break into their houses, and do all sorts of things that no woman would ever want to experience. He would trap them in his glass cage in a basement and make them seem like they disappeared off of the map by choice. It’s an absolute nightmare because, while this show does dramatize the situation a bit, it is very much a possibility to be stalked to that extent.
From season two, we last left off with the love interest of that season, Love Quinn, portrayed by Victoria Pedretti. At first, she seemed normal, but then she ends up killing one of Goldberg’s hookups and claims that she’s pregnant. The cliffhanger is Goldberg’s newly-sparked interest in their mysterious neighbor while the couple are moving into a new home in the suburbs of San Francisco.
The episode picks up from where we last saw Goldberg and Quinn, moving into a new home. Enter Natalie, the next door neighbor who’s an estate saleswoman and married to a high class entrepreneur. This couple somewhat reflects the Elon Musk and Grimes dynamic, in which a young woman marries a modern middle-aged entrepreneur, and their entire marriage is clearly based on money. It has been made clear that Goldberg takes interest in her, but having a baby has raised the stakes for him in the third season. Unlike the previous installments, Joe Goldberg has a son, which provides an interesting outlook on his character. Between each episode leading up to episodes three and four, we see the couple’s straining relationship because Goldberg wasn’t interested in Quinn, but Quinn loved Goldberg to the point where she kills Natalie on impulse. The couple go on a downward spiral; the duo have to start attending therapy and try to become accustom to their new lives.
While Quinn adapts to a stereotypical influencer’s life, Goldberg seeks a job at the library, and the plotline with the missing Natalie is pitting the community against each other, once again, bringing the fake out in people. Initially, things start to go well, until the two get obsessed with other people, leading to extramarital affairs while still pretending to be perfect for each other; Quinn with Theo (Natalie’s stepson) and Goldberg with Marienne (his boss). There is this constant tension between both characters and their respective “regrets” because of how they want to stay happy in their marriage, but they really aren’t due to the lack of trust they have in each other. In addition, there’s constant pressure from Natalie’s husband, Matthew, who has hired a private investigator to track everyone in the neighborhood because he doesn’t believe that his wife’s case was really concluded. Matthew becomes increasingly suspicious of the real killer of his wife, while Quinn and Goldberg continue to hold up with the Instagram-perfect couple, Sherry and Cary, in that infamous glass cage after trying to fulfill a foursome escapade. As Goldberg’s relationship escalates with Marienne, Quinn tries to sort out their son, Henry’s, future while dealing with two prisoners in her work basement. This becomes unveiled as Theo ends up being the one uncovering the truth of the Quinn-Goldbergs and eventually becomes a victim.
Unfortunately, in the last episode, Quinn takes it a step further and paralyzes Goldberg “out of love” and attempts to kill Marienne only for things to take a full turnaround on her, leaving the woman dead. This allows for Goldberg to make an escape, leaving this life behind, giving Henry up to his former coworker, Dante, and letting the town heal from their actions as he ends up in Paris.
This season was honestly dreadful in comparison to the first and second seasons because it was brimming with adultery rather than murder. The one thing that struck me the most is how Goldberg’s focus was unclear because it went quickly from one woman to another, and it was mind-boggling. As an audience, we were given hints as to how Natalie would be the driving factor of season three, only for her to be killed a few episodes in. The shift in women made the season all the more confusing in terms of its direction until maybe the fourth episode, where we meet Marienne. Despite the directionless plot that doesn’t find itself until half in through the show, the dullness of certain characters, dead or alive, and the overwhelming amounts of infidelity to the point where it gets far too easy to cringe, the show does have its moments. The background story of why Joe Goldberg is the way he is provides a different view of how the character developed into a murderer from early on in his childhood. While it definitely does not excuse him, it was interesting to see how this small child turned into a harbinger of death in the suburban neighborhood.
In addition, this show managed to reflect on reality for a minute, especially concerning the pandemic, as well as the case of Gabby Petito. When trying to frame another person for the murder of Natalie, Quinn manages to frame another man she killed due to the fact that he was an anti-vaxxer who got her son hospitalized for measles. In that episode, we see a lot of “did you get vaccinated?” with a concerned face from certain characters, reflective of the ongoing pandemic where there is a duality of anti-vaxxers and everyone else, as well as the consequences of such actions, which I hope some anti-vaxxers will see if they watched the show. In regards to the Gabby Petito case, it is extremely well reflected in the case of Natalie Engler. Often, we saw the momfluencers, Sherry and company, exclude Natalie, but she eventually became a saint when she was confirmed dead. Coincidentally, this is titled, “Missing White Woman Syndrome,” and it addresses how American media prioritizes white women’s lives over women of color’s lives. On top of that, the public is quick to make Matthew, the victim’s husband, the suspect of the case, much akin to Petito’s own fiancé, except Matthew doesn’t take off, but stays cooped up privately investigating everyone. While You had its relatively decent moments, especially those that reflect real life situations, it was just a hard show to watch overall. It focuses far too much on the details of the duo’s sexual life, leaving the realism of the show behind: focusing on women having to deal with stalkers. Out of all three seasons, this felt probably the most unrealistic, making the show lose its original charm that came from the first season.
Featured Image Courtesy of Gold Derby