Yesor (Netflix) backed off somewhat from the start. The thriller, which always tried to balance its darker urges with a substantial dose of dark comedy, began as the saga of Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), a handsome loner and literature-loving stalker. Goldberg had a nasty habit of murdering the women he had become obsessed with, as well as anyone who got in his way (though, to his credit, he often felt bad about it). It’s a premise that has even less appeal now than it was then, though its twists and biting wit had the effect of grudgingly hooking this viewer. Much like Joe, however, I often felt bad about it.
His second season took the vanity even further, taking Joe away from multiple crime scenes in New York City and dropping him off on America’s West Coast, where – spoiler alert – he stalked a woman called Love (this really escalated the theater) who turned out to have the same murderous desires as him. Joe almost killed her, until Love was found to be pregnant with her child, and the new third season sees the couple attempt to become model parents in a hellish landscape of white fences in the largely populated California suburbs. of mumfluencers and tech billionaires.
It’s a smart move that fixes some of the issues you’ve encountered so far. For his first two seasons, he was targeting what we called hipsters – both the arty and literary New Yorker types, and the aerial spiritualism of his Los Angeles counterparts. But I struggled to reconcile his satirical bite with his unstable portrayal of Joe both mean and beautiful, brooding and likable. By focusing on parenthood, marriage and what it means to be “normal” he finds a more confident pace. At its best, it reminded me of the old John Waters movie Serial Mom, in which Kathleen Turner plays a housewife who lashes out at rudeness and indecency.
Parenting is a challenge for Joe and Love. Joe wanted a girl to avoid passing on his violent tendencies to a son, but baby Henry arrived anyway, and now they’re not so much accomplices as two people left hanging in a world they despise. That they can and should fit in is one of You’s most philosophical threads, and the scenes in which the couple attends Esther Perel-style couples therapy are clever, not least because they are never quite able to talk about what they would actually do. like to chat: the real chance that one could murder the other.
There are times that threaten a disappointing return to Joe’s bad old ways, but most of the time love is left to his transgressions, with Joe transformed into some sort of sane sidekick, roped up when his criminal mastery is the one. no longer needed. It turns out that Love’s more impulsive tendencies aren’t as easily managed as she thought, and the two are soon caught in a Gone Girl mystery. However, being you – who never knowingly opts for subtlety – the result is more like Gone-Too-Far Girl.
As always, it’s tasteless (a thorny “dilemma” is solved by a character’s suicide, and there’s a romantic subplot involving a teenager and an older woman), but turning the mockery of “the obscene one percent bubble “that Joe and Love inhabit now, he at least finds more space to explore his best themes. These include: the surveillance culture most of us readily subscribe to via social media and technology; anti-vaccines and the wellness world; and primitive masculinity and the male bond.
As he does the impossible and moves away from his initial premise, You become more self-aware – and that’s good for him.