By: Kat Kaderabek
The hit Netflix series, You, premiered with a second season on December 26 featuring the same serial killer Joe, but with a new name and in a new location. This season, Joe is running away from his ex-girlfriend, Candace, who mysteriously appeared in the finale of the previous season after being presumed dead.
Living in L.A., Joe hopes to start over until he meets Love, a quirky and loving girl with a fiercely protective streak for her brother, Forty. At first, Joe attempts to change his ways and focus on himself. However, he is soon drawn into Love’s world and becomes just as obsessed with her as he did Beck, his previous girlfriend who he murdered after trapping her inside of a glass box.
This season of You was an excellent continuation of the series. The show left the audience captivated with the question, “what will he do next?” and also opened up a series of ethical questions as the plot unfolded. The newest characters in the series, including Love, Forty, Ellie, and Delilah, were all great additions to the storyline and at many points drove the plot forward, perhaps even more than Joe did.
Joe remained a rather inactive character during the beginning episodes of the series because of his decision to avoid Love and instead focus on himself. While trying to be unnoticed and distance himself the plot was eventually dragged out.
The real action did not begin until episode five when Candace debuted herself as Amy at Forty and Love’s parents’ weekend vacation where the couple planned on renewing their vows. Joe’s world was thrown completely off-balance after he had just figured out all of his issues. From there, the plot thickened as more uncontrollable elements of Joe’s narrative unfolded.
The ending episode was thrilling, but not entirely unexpected. The actress who played Love, Victoria Pedretti, had slowly worked in a sense of discomfort and insanity into her character that had subtly peaked through in previous episodes. Her clinginess in her and Joe’s relationship and the bouts of extreme anger and emotionalism alluded to something rather off about Love. The last two episodes featured several moments in which Love’s crazy eyes really stood out.
Alternately, Delilah and Ellie quickly became crowd favorites. Their bond as aggressive and loving sisters was refreshing and endearing. Delilah’s determination to take down evil men was admirable, and then subsequently ironic given the man assisting her was a murderer. Her strength was quickly recognized in her wariness of Joe and her ability to decipher people’s intentions.
Slowly, as her character opened up to Joe, the audience found Delilah to be a wronged and hardened woman whose drive was the result of past trauma. In this way, many viewers justify Joe’s killing of Henderson, the man who assaulted Delilah and countless other women and girls.
The justification for this murder is slightly uncomfortable and concerning. Was it warranted? Would he have gotten the same kind of justice if the police had been involved? Is murdering an abuser just? The show instigates these types of thought-provoking moral questions about love, murder, and justice.
Penn Badgley, the actor playing Joe, has made several comments about the show and its motives in several talk-show interviews. One comment, in particular, dealt with the show’s message and its impact on fans and the mindset of society today. Namely, the romanticizing of the character of Joe and the subsequent justifying of many of his actions have led to concern on Badgley’s part.
According to Variety Magazine, instead of the theme being how far one is willing to go for love, Badgely says, “To me, it’s like, ‘how far are we willing to go to forgive an evil white man?’” This is the core of the show You. Not only is it an entertaining piece of work, but it poses relevant questions about society and creates a conversation amongst people about the actions of men in relation to women and the subsequent notion that humans lack privacy in modern times. Joe is able to stalk Love easily through social media and warp her personal information in order to manipulate her and even seduce her. You is a show that covers that growing concern for the current state of the world, not a romanticized version of the Joker and Harley Quinn (which is what Joe and Love have often been compared too).