[Series Review] YOU SEASON 3
Courtesy Netflix
At the outset of YOU’s third season, it appears that Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) has finally met his match. Joe and his new bride, Love (Victoria Pedretti), have settled into suburban life in picturesque Madre Linda with a brand-new baby and a promise of no more bloodshed or lies. Joe is committed to his role as a husband and father, but is fearful of Love’s deadly impulses and bored of the bland day-to-day of suburban living. Will Joe find a distraction – and maybe more – in a beautiful neighbor? Can Love keep her rage and violence under wraps? The surface-level image of their picture-perfect family is prone to some deep and dangerous cracks.

It helps to think of the Netflix series from the perspective shared by its seductive stalker lead… as a love story. A story of all manner of love… and the search for the real deal. This concept is seen to its highest potential in YOU Season 3. YOU’s third season brings a refreshing twist to Joe’s tortured tale, because infatuation and flirtation may be fervent and fleeting but marriage is a commitment. Joe’s search for love has ended with his wife, Love, and their new baby… or so we’d like to think. Love, on the other hand, has yearned for safety and security and is desperate to have it within her marriage. 

At the core of its twisted tale of deadly deception, YOU Season 3 confronts love and acceptance in a shockingly earnest portrayal of marriage. YOU’s killer couple is a caricature of more realistic struggles that married couples face all of the time. The show’s unique brand of love gone wrong is given something more grounded and that makes the drama all the more arresting and the stakes ever higher. For better or for worse, these two broken people may have found their best chance at happiness in one another. Reframing Joe’s obsessions in this way is incredibly refreshing and matures the show into something so much richer. 

(L to R) VICTORIA PEDRETTI and PENN BADGLEY in YOU Cr. JOHN P. FLEENOR/NETFLIX © 2021

While relationships and the fickle nature of love are at YOU’s core, the third season expands the consuming power of devotion into the realm of family. Parenthood adds a layer of complication for Love and Joe. Both must fight for individual identity and identity as a couple while maintaining the difficult task of being present and loving parents. YOU has continuously impressed with deliciously wicked writing and narrative, but the third season has a depth and weight to it that makes it a stand out. Just like its characters, YOU has grown up. It’s not fooling around anymore. 

Victoria Pedretti’s performance as Love Quinn is stellar and the character only gets more interesting with each episode. Badgley’s Joe delivers on everyone’s favorite bad TV boyfriend, but Pedretti steals the show with elevated instincts. 

YOU Season 3 distinguishes itself as a drama for the moment, with a sharp take on contemporary issues like the anti-vaxx movement, nods to COVID-19, and well-worked in discussions of race and privilege. These scenes may tarnish any hope for timelessness, but these asides fall right in step with YOU’s history of placing its drama right on the cutting edge of culture. It’s fresh. It’s smart. 

YOU Season 3 elevates the series out of its pulpy beginnings and into more grounded drama. This season dares to offer more complex notes and a richer finish, seductively smooth and dark. Fans of the show will enjoy the same potent blend of sensual heat and spine-tingling chills, but with a new and more anchored approach. An exciting new direction for the Netflix obsession!

YOU Season 3 premieres on Netflix on October 15, 2021.

Caitlin Kennedy
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