A Suburban Nightmare: You Season 3 Review
Emerson Furgason ‘24 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Viewers’ favorite murderous, hat-wearing stalker Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) gracefully returned to Netflix on Oct. 15, with the premiere of You’s third season. Even after two seasons of jaw-dropping murders, insane cover-up tactics, and ludicrous plot twists, Netflix’s psychological thriller-drama continues to intoxicate fans with its imprudent humor and Joe’s brazen self-righteousness. You’s third season reacquaints fans with Joe’s incredibly delusional perspective on love and romance, with this season highlighting his hypocritical stance regarding his wife Love Quinn’s (Victoria Pedretti) similarly sinister tendencies. As newlyweds and first-time parents to a son named Henry, this season revolves around the murderous pair attempting—and entertainingly failing—to control their dark impulses.
Following season two’s dramatic ending, which exposed Love as the female version of Joe, the third season picks up with the pair attempting to assimilate into the suburban town of Madre Linda. The newlyweds seem to establish themselves in the town, with Joe returning to his passion for books by working at the local library, and Love opening up her own bakery called “A Fresh Tart.” Since the show’s previous seasons took place in the bustling cities of New York and Los Angeles, the third season’s suburban setting feels refreshing. Watching the murderous duo strive to maintain an average suburban lifestyle is hilariously entertaining, especially as they encounter a wide variety of highly privileged and incredibly shallow townies. Viewers can actually feel the second-hand torture as Joe and Love deal with new supporting characters such as pseudo-nice “mommy influencer” Sherry Conrad (Shalita Grant), Sherry’s intermittent-fasting enthusiast husband Cary (Travis Van Winkle), and anti-vax proponent Gil Brigham (Mackenzie Astin), amongst others. Part of the allure and wow factor of this season undoubtedly comes with how off-putting it is to see the murderous romantic duo of Joe and Love against a backdrop filled with white picket fences that scream “suburbia.”
One of the most appealing aspects of this season is the obvious lingering tension and resentment between Joe and Love, which festered during the latter half of season two. While Love’s bloody body count is nowhere near as high as Joe’s (at least that we know of), he is repulsed by her murderous tendencies. Although hypocritical and self-righteous, it is evident that Joe’s disgust with Love’s actions lies in the way she carries out her killings—not the actual murders themselves. Joe plans out his murders and subsequent cover-ups in a meticulous manner, which contrasts with Love’s impulsiveness. Joe’s consistent monologues hint at the fact that he truly believes that his killings are justified, while Love’s aren’t. Her murders are spontaneous and fueled by passion, making her an incredibly sloppy killer. This angers Joe, who is forced to cover up multiple of his wife’s murders this season, which he rationalizes by reassuring himself that he must protect Henry and their image of a perfect family.
Not to mention, the pair’s shared murderous tendencies actually make it harder for them to trust each other. Joe and Love both recognize they could turn on each other at any moment, which is a lingering concern bolstered by the fact that Joe nearly murdered Love at the end of season two. The fact that either character could turn on the other in a heartbeat is incredibly compelling, adding to the tension and suspense of Joe and Love’s scenes together. Moreover, Joe and Love’s lack of trust in each other is undoubtedly what fuels the drama and plot of this season. Love’s distrust of Joe results in her suspecting that he has become enamored with next-door neighbor Natalie Engler (Michaela McManus), and her suspicions are eventually proven right. Unwilling to accept the idea of Joe loving someone more than her and his feeble attempts to assure her that he didn’t cheat, Love brutally murders the woman in the season premiere. Joe and Love’s scramble to get away with the murder becomes the driving force of the drama and action this season, which ramps up as Natalie’s tech-obsessed husband Matthew (Scott Speedman) begins to suspect them. This isn’t the only hiccup their relationship experiences this season, as Love becomes romantically involved with Matthew’s college-aged step-son Theo (Dylan Arnold), and Joe eventually becomes infatuated with his library co-worker Marienne (Tati Gabrielle). The initial murder, as well as Joe and Love’s extra-marital entanglements, leads to further bodies piling up and an absolutely insane season-ending.
You’s third season was incredibly entertaining, delving into the twisted psyches of both Love and Joe. The pacing and action were well-timed, and the season ended on a fantastic cliffhanger. However, one major drawback of this season was the ill-timed flashbacks to Joe’s childhood. Sure, they further insinuated his severe mommy issues and reinforced why he lacks normal social skills, but they were entirely unnecessary. Viewers already know that Joe lacks empathy and compassion, and enjoys acting as a ‘savior’ for women he deems ‘weak’ or ‘in need of fixing.’ These flashbacks undoubtedly muddled the plot slightly, which was also marred by the lack of closure for Ellie Alves’ (Jenna Ortega) season two plotline. Joe mentions that he is stealing and repairing old books and selling them for money, which he then sends to Ellie. However, considering how much of a major role she played in season two, the fact that she is never actually seen on screen this season is kind of a bummer. It can also be seen as somewhat of a plot hole, as Ellie has a reason and the means to reveal to the police that Joe is a murderer.
Although there were a few minor issues with this season, You’s ‘suburban nightmare’ third season is thrilling. There are plenty of twists and turns, as well as an enormous amount of satirical humor. Considering the fact that season three ends with the shocking death of a main character, it is incredibly reassuring to hear that Netflix has already renewed the series for a fourth season. Undoubtedly, You continues to thrill audiences with a deep dive into the psyche and delusions of a hopeless romantic sociopath, proving that Joe Goldberg has not lost his weird charm. Maybe next season, Joe will finally find the woman of his dreams—or, as Joe says, “the one.”