For those of you living under a rock and not familiar with the show, YOU is a psychological thriller and Netflix drama based on the book YOU by Caroline Kepnes. Season 2 was released on Boxing day last year and it has been on the brain since. It’s drama-packed with twists and turns, enjoyable characters and weirdly delightful narration from its protagonist – the boy next door/ psychopath Joe Goldberg; played by Penn Badgley of Gossip Girl fame.
1. It’s an eerie reminder of just how much information is available about us on social media.
We see this in both seasons – but particularly season one when Joe wants to find out more about Beck. From simply scrolling through her Instagram feed he is able to find out not just obvious things like coffee hangouts and hobbies but also deduces less obvious things like personality traits. What makes YOU so interesting is that much of the conversation about online data mishandling has been around massive companies, there has been little focus on what could happen if it reaches the Joes of this world.
2. Something in you wants to keep giving Joe a second chance.
I’m not sure if this is due to Penn’s great acting or Joe’s character but particularly at the start of the second season, I found myself hoping that Joe would change. A ridiculous thought when you think about what he’s capable of but it does show that Joe is weirdly likeable. There is a side of him that cares for others and attempts (unsuccessfully) to do good. It’s that side you’re rooting for as you follow him in both series.
The way “You” tries to make us empathize with a killer is just…very nightmarish
— ?? (@makeupbyshaniah) December 28, 2019
3. A subtle commentary on privilege and our biases
In several interviews, such as the one here, Penn talks about the fact that Joe is actually a commentary on how willing we are as a society to forgive those that do wrong that happens to fit the criteria Joe does. That is; white, male and fairly good looking. It’s a fact that society finds it easier to demonise those that fit the criteria of those they think would do bad or be capable of evil. Joe doesn’t fit that mould we imagine a psychopath to be hence why we find it hard to face the truth about what he is.
4. YOU creates conspiracy theory galore on Twitter
YOU is one of those dramas that sends your thinking into overdrive; for some, it happens whilst watching – you’re constantly looking for clues and deeper meanings. For others, it happens upon reflection after the completion of a YOU binge.
#YOUNetlix #YOUSEASON2 imma just say it now, the neighbor at the end IS probably his mum. BUT the thumbs aren't the same, AND the laugh sounded like Beck's. I'm not saying she is alive, but I'm not saying she isnt…… ???
— Ethano (@Ethano___) January 2, 2020
My prediction for the third season of #YOU is that the neighbor is Love's mother, not Joe's as everyone is wrapped up in. If it's a random women then they're toast around Love, hell Joe's toast around Love. #You2Netflix #YouNetflix #YOUSEASON2
— ? ???IT?OO? ? (@Glass1ncision) January 12, 2020
5. It shows you can never truly know someone
This particularly applies to the second season where Joe takes on a new identity with the intention of having a fresh start. However, we also see that Joe is very careful about how he acts and what information he reveals to his partners or those close to him. For him, the importance is in him being perceived positively, as opposed to actually being a good person.
6. Both seasons DELIVER!
What a miracle! Many shows tend to suffer the curse of getting tragically worse as seasons go by. Storylines begin to get ridiculous as characters slowly lose their grip and become unlikable. But when it comes to YOU season 2 was more enjoyable than the first season! We can only hope and pray that season 3 is of the same calibre.
7. The Narration means we can hear Joe’s thoughts. All of them.
What makes this interesting is that it allows us to see just how in denial Joe is about his actions. I personally also highly enjoy the narration simply because Joe is very blunt about his perceptions of the people around him – sometimes to the point of being humorous. A good example is in season 2 when we hear his first impressions of Love’s friends who he sees as having the stereotypical superficiality he associates with LA.
8. Both series contain meaty female characters
I’m not saying female portrayal is perfect but we are given some dynamic, complicated characters; more so in season two than one – although Peach definitely deserves an honourable mention. Love and Candace, in particular, are the ones to watch in season two as the female characters often at the centre of any twists and drama within the plot-line. However, we also get new interesting characters in the form of sisters Delilah and Ellie. Ellie in particular, despite her age, is sassy, streetwise and tech-savvy; although her weak point seems to be her sister. I think the show does a good job of showing us the different sides of these characters although there’s always room for improvement.
9. The main characters lie within a moral grey
Good and evil in each character is not clear cut so it’s not black and white who to support and dislike. For example, Joe seems to commit many acts with good intentions or ‘in the name of love’; does that mean they’re justified? It does make you wonder just how far someone will go committing evil whilst fully convinced they’re doing good.
10. Murder aside, perhaps there’s a little bit of us in these characters
Whether it’s striving to be good but feeling like we’re constantly failing, being blinded by revenge, or doing a bit of social media stalking ourselves. There are at least one or two things various characters in the show are going through that strike close to home. It’s what makes the characters not necessarily lovable but relatable and realistic.
It has been officially confirmed that season 3 is now in the works, so if the show is still lying in your Netflix list (or, even worse, isn’t) – GET WATCHING. You still have time to see what the fuss is about. As for the rest of us, we will patiently lie in wait for another year, only to watch the new season upon release in a few hours. Again.