REVIEW: ‘YOU’ season four

When I sat down to watch “YOU” this past weekend, I wasn’t expecting it to be good. The last season did such a great job at breaking the boring “Joe meets girl, Joe gets obsessed, Joe kills the girl” sequence that I was sure it couldn’t outdo itself. 

I was right. Instead, I sat through the most boring half-season of television I’ve ever watched just for a predictable part-two teaser. 

“YOU” season three ended with Joe killing Love and following Marienne, the newfound victim of his deadly passion. It should have ended with Love killing Joe, so we could watch her as the new main character of the show.

A poster for YOU, a Netflix series. COURTESY OF NETFLIX

That didn’t happen, though. 

In the first few episodes of season four, Joe explains that he left Marienne alone in Paris to prove he isn’t the man she thinks he is. He can be better, he thinks. Except, as the show has seemed to point out time and time again, he can’t be better. So this made no sense. 

Joe successfully lets Marienne board a train to never be seen again before assuming his new identity as Professor Jonathan Moore in London. 

This breakaway from Joe’s obsessive behavior betrays the hypocritical mindset that made the character who he is. We don’t tune in to watch “YOU” because we hope Joe’s finally become a good person. We want to see how long it takes until he gets caught and what tangled webs he weaves himself into. We root for the murderer, not the man. 

The show did stick to the status quo, even if in the worst possible way. Joe’s obliviously toxic voiceovers and pattern for finding a new woman felt overtly tropey. It was as if I was watching a “YOU” parody. 

“YOU” made Joe’s object of affection a Phoebe Waller-Bridge rip-off. As Nicki Minaj would say, “All these b*tches is my sons / and I’ma go and get some bibs for ’em.” “Fleabag” has sons, and those sons are the writers of “YOU.” 

Kate, the emotionally unavailable love interest, would ask Joe where he went as the audience listened to his voiceovers. Her British accent and “so good a priest would f*ck” bob haircut made it hard to not get distracted by who the producers really wanted for Kate’s role. 

Kate and Joe’s chemistry was there, but Joe making eye contact with anybody makes it seem like he’s ready to pounce. I’m hardly a voice of support for this relationship. The true ‘plot twist’ comes when we learn there’s more than one murderer in town. 

Kate’s situationship partner, Malcolm, winds up with a knife stabbed in his chest on Joe’s dining room table after a night out. Joe wakes up with a hangover and a fuzzy memory. Assuming he committed the murder, he cleans up the body. Soon Joe gets an anonymous text revealing the true killer is out there. 

As Joe tries to unearth who the killer is, more murders occur. He has several budding friendship moments with Rhys, the one rich person in Kate’s friend group who isn’t completely awful. Within five minutes, I knew Rhys was the killer. 

The titular “you”, the object of Joe’s desire and one he will normally incite in his voiceovers to refer to his love, is instead used to reference the murderer. The killer, not Kate, is Joe’s new obsession. 

It was here I realized I’d seen this show before. 

The past three seasons the audience has been molded to only think of “you” in a non-platonic way. After I realized the killer was a man — Rhys —the obvious deduction was that the show was pulling a “Hannibal.”

The 2013 series “Hannibal” follows a cannibalistic expert as he attempts to manipulate an empath into a joint homoerotic killing spree. I can see how this seems pretty different. 

Essentially, it’s the same concept. One murderer gets obsessed with taking down the other murderer and they mock and tease each other and wait — are they in love? 

I don’t think the show’s intention is for Joe to be queer. 

Showrunner Sera Gamble referred to Joe and Rhys’ new relationship in part two as the “serial killer buddy movie part of the season.” But, it would be boring if the person he’s obsessed with isn’t also the person he’s in love with. It would also be against the character’s psychology considering he’s unable to separate love from obsession. 

Penn Badgley, who plays Joe, recently revealed he requested for no more intimate scenes in the show, as he’s a married man and feels sex scenes are like cheating. This pivot could be a way to move the show away from romance.

It is still murderer versus murderer, but “no homo.” Very “Dexter”-esque. 

The season ends with Joe vowing to take down Rhys and swearing off Kate to protect her from himself. 

The murder mystery angle is hard to buy into, considering all the characters, besides Rhys and Kate, are insufferable. Any attempt at trying to bring the rich people friend group alive by adding dimension to the characters — such as a b-plot piss kink or the reveal that Kate’s father is the monopoly man or something — feels disconnected and uninteresting. 

The pacing is a joke, the romance is a copy and paste of every other in the past three seasons and the murders are half as fun. Tune in, if you must. Or watch “Hannibal.” At least in that one a pig births a human baby.


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