YOU is a difficult series to explain why it’s so riveting. On the rare occasion, you meet someone who has never heard of it, they might look at you like you’re psycho after you tell them the main character stalks women and kills whoever he perceives as a threat. The Fatal Attraction vibes are there and Penn Badgley takes the reigns as Joe Goldberg, our crazy-in-love protagonist who doesn’t take no for an answer.
In this #MeToo atmosphere, I’m surprised at how big of a hit this show is. However, I can’t judge the fans as I became addicted especially with the excellent season three where (spoiler alert!) Joe finds an equal partner in Love (Victoria Pedretti, “Haunting of Hill House”). Love turned out to be just as unstable when it comes to love and the season explored the discomfort and passion found in toxic relationships. I hadn’t seen this too often and was glued to the screen to see what happens next. Unfortunately, Joe’s eyes wander and he ends up killing Love in the finale, venturing into another country to begin a new life and resume his search for true love.
That love was Marianne (Tati Gabrielle) who played a prominent role in season three. For fans of Marianne, her storyline is quickly wrapped up in the season four premiere so the show can focus on all new characters. Unfortunately, these new characters are beyond awful rich kids. Yes, we had unsavory characters before, but they served a purpose and provided entertainment in showing us that we are all capable of psychotic behavior. Season four provides an annoyance of flat characters that are undistinguishable except for some of their fashion choices.
Joe is now a professor in London, teaching literature. Of course, this fact is introduced with “Oxford Comma” by Vampire Weekend playing. This song choice only exemplifies the series’ lack of subtlety as the story ends up getting stretched with filler that has nothing to do with what drove our interest in the series, to begin with.
After a night of debauchery with some of these rich kids, Joe wakes up next to a dead body with a missing severed finger. He disposes of the body because that’s what he does best. However, he gets a text from an unknown sender proving that he didn’t kill anyone, but was rather set up to take the fall. Here’s our mystery this season. Who wanted this guy dead and why? Also, why did they choose Joe? Do they know about his shady past? This proceeds as an Agatha Christie whodunit but it is nowhere near as fun.
The biggest problem with this season is that the new characters are a group of awful pretentious people. There’s a lack of empathy in all their souls and we don’t want to spend any time with them, let alone care if they get killed. Joe’s adventures are entertaining due to his observations of the world around him, but he is unable to bounce off the other people without sounding like he’s two generations behind just discovering social media.
The previous season had its strength leaning on Love and Victoria Petretti’s performance. However, that was flushed when she was killed in the finale, probably the show’s greatest loss. Yes, we tune in to watch an obsessive stalker who thinks he’s in love, but he is never punished. The women on the show are always punished and when Love showed up as his equal, the series put her through hell and killed her, leaving Joe to do whatever he wants again without remorse.
YOU will always be about Joe, but it becomes redundant and hard to fathom that he’s just going to fall in love and kill every season. So, in YOU Season 4 to try to change things up, they shift the series to London and make it a murder mystery. Somehow, Joe’s lifestyle has become more lavish and rich for the benefit of storytelling purposes, but it’s unclear if it works.
YOU Season 4 consists of ten episodes, split into two parts. Episode five of YOU Season 4 does end with a cliffhanger, but it really was a storyline that I didn’t care to watch. By end of episode five, it seems clear that it’s time for the show to end unless the second part of YOU Season 4 manages to somehow reverse all the damage or introduce an adversary as strong as Love. Personally, I would have loved to see Love kill Joe and the series be taken over by a woman’s perspective, but they instead delivered a cruel joke. The writers even have the nerve to throw in a reference that Joe believes in gun control, probably an attempt at humor that just comes off as distasteful.
Anti-heroes like Dexter Morgan or Tony Soprano had a world built around them that helped the audience root for them and empathize with their narratives. Joe no longer has that and, as a result, it is now questionable if we still need more of YOU. Until then, YOU has become a series about a white guy whose life got richer after getting away with murdering women.
YOU Season 4 episodes 1-5 premiere globally on Netflix on February 9, 2023. Part 2 of YOU Season 4, episodes 6-10, premiere on March 9, 2023.
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- [Series Review] YOU Season 4 Part 2 - March 9, 2023
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