Thursday, December 2, 2021

COLUMN: 'You' season 3 straps me into an emotional rollercoaster

November 17, 2021
<p>&quot;You&quot; illustration by Madison Echlin. </p>

"You" illustration by Madison Echlin.

Photo by Madison Echlin | The State News

Despite its dark plot filled with bone-chilling suspense, the Netflix series "You" was getting a bit predictable.

The dorky, tall, gangly yet handsome Joe Goldberg would find a girl, become obsessed, stalk her until she fell in love with him and she would, inevitably, see the monster that he is, leading Joe to kill the poor girl who had no idea what she was getting into.

The ending to the second season showed no signs of change as Joe walks around the pool of his new house in the mundane suburbs of Madre Linda, ranting about destiny and “the one.” Joe finds a substantial crack, a peephole in his beat up wooden fence, and curiously looks through to find yet another beautiful girl who's different because ... she's a beautiful girl who reads?

I walked into season three expecting to see a familiar story; albeit, I was excited to binge-watch regardless of my expectations. However, season three of "You" took a different turn, leaving me shocked every episode, excited to find out what happens next. I have to pay my respects to the writers of this show, as they had me second guessing every prediction I could come up with.

From the hipster culture of New York in season one and the progressive, wellness culture of Los Angeles in season two, season three takes place in the fictional suburbs of Madre Linda, and the suburbs prove to be a bland and predictable setting not well suited to the destructive lifestyles of Joe and Love.

Season one deconstructed the image of the perfect guy, season two deconstructed the image of the perfect girl and season three, despite Love's criminal efforts to protect the image of her dream family, took me down a dark, scary rabbit hole filled with questions along the lines of, “Is this what marriage feels like?”

The rocky marriage was doomed from the start, as Joe has already found a new prey of the neighbor, Natalie, and put a knife to Love's throat at the end of season two.

Love handles this issue by getting rid of Natalie. However, in typical Joe fashion, he latches onto a new girl in what seems like a few days later. Additionally, Love takes a predatorial interest in Natalie's 19-year-old stepson, Theo, further complicating the lives of an already reckless pair.

Joe: a manipulative, seemingly sociopathic “I love you” whore who murders for the women he loves, yet finds himself quickly disappointed in his partner and relationship — typically ending in murder; and Love: an impulsive, dangerously protective excitement junkie who, from a young age, can't seem to stop committing crimes of passion. I had assumed that the Joe and Love Quinn-Goldberg slasher marriage would only end in disaster.

But season three left us with so much more: a deep dive into the individual and marital psyche of Joe and Love, I began to feel as if I understood them — they weren't just childish psychopaths who couldn't keep it in their pants, they have normal feelings like the rest of us, they just react horribly and irrationally. That's all!

The entire season I felt like I had no idea what was happening, who to root for; they hate themselves, they hate each other, they're cheating on each other. They must want to kill each other, but who will be the one to finally fall victim to someone else's insanity?

Given Joe's general creepiness, his manipulation of women and his ability to frame people he deems crude and disgusting (as if someone who locks girls in cages is in a position of justice) and Love's childish personality, eyes that scream crazy and ability to use her wealth, status and beauty to dodge the consequences of her impulsive actions, I'd love to tell you that I hated both of them. That I was just happy that the blind librarian Dante's light-hearted and sassy personality is what kept me pushing through this messy plot.

It's a nice idea, but no. I must admit that I was rooting for Joe. I wanted him to make it out of that marriage alive. I wanted him and Henry, his son, to run away with his boss Marienne and her daughter, Juliette, so they could escape their traumatic and similar pasts, their horrifying present and live happily as a family. No season four needed.

This may cause some controversy, but that's why the writers did such a good job this season. They made us feel sympathy for two gruesome characters. They convinced us that amid the self-absorbed mom influencers like Sherry Conrad and the toxic masculinity of fathers like Cary Conrad (who was so attracted to himself that he was bisexual) that filled the suburbs of Madre Linda, there actually IS a hero to be found in this phony environment, and it's not the charming Theo or his absent, tech-savvy father Matthew.

It's Joe and Love. Two people who were the product of vicious emotional abuse and neglect. I felt bad for them ... I found myself getting emotional, attached to the possibilities of what will happen to these two.

The ending was disappointing. Well, not really. I just wanted Joe and Marienne to be together.

With Joe killing Love and successfully escaping his marriage and Madre Linda, moving to Paris in hopes of romantically finding Marienne, Dante and his husband Lansing finally raising a child together, giving Henry the childhood Joe and Love could only ever hope for, the ending was actually awesome.

Joe roaming Paris, the Eiffel Tower in the background, “Exile” by Taylor Swift playing (one of my favorite songs) — the ending hit every major aesthetic. My only problem? Joe sees a new potential love interest who looks like Marienne, which I'm not cool with.

In conclusion: I stan Joe and Marienne. Also, people are weird and relationships are complex.

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