In its second season, Netflix’s “You” expands on its story in a pretty big way, managing to be wildly entertaining but at the expense of its high quality. Though not at all bad, the second season of “You” becomes extremely soapy at times, while seeming totally oblivious of its unbelievable state.
This new storyline follows our favorite anti-hero, Joe Goldberg, as he flees from New York to Los Angeles in an attempt to escape his dark past. Without spoiling too much, Joe is a serial stalker/killer, and so really it makes sense that he’s trying to leave the place where he earned those titles.
The moral of You, it seems, however, is that you really can’t escape yourself. Joe falls in love again in Los Angeles, and at breakneck speeds, just as it had in New York, that love evolves into an obsession.
The first episode is highlighted with some brutally honest, if not lazily written quips about how terrible Los Angeles can be. In this new setting, an over-exaggerated dreamscape of hipster vegans, the show continues to shine in establishing a place that teeters between the real world and fantasy, very similar to the plot of the show itself. The way the city is weaved so deftly into the plot, is, in fact one of the main highpoints of the show.
Has he finally met his match? YOU S2 is now streaming. pic.twitter.com/Sdg1IhlyGK— YOU (@YouNetflix) December 26, 2019
Another one of these highpoints is the performance of Joe, acted by Penn Badgely. No, he wasn’t nominated for an Emmy, and no, he didn’t deserve to be either, but he plays the role to a tee. Without Badgely, the show would be meaningless, because he is the focal point for the moral struggle that makes “You” so enjoyable. The viewer is forced to decide(an impossible task), whether to sympathize with Joe, or to see him as a revolting villain, but if the lead actor was absent then the latter would seem a clear choice.
I guess all credit can’t be given to Badgley though, because while it’s definitely not top-notch, the script and story deserve a little shout out. The development of Joe’s character is pretty interesting; He becomes more hesitant, trying to, at least, shoot down negative thoughts or actions that come to his mind, when he pushes his obsession too far. It seems for a moment that the show takes a break from its soapiness and actually tries to increase its depth, but once this layer of character development is laid, the writers try to double down and fail miserably.
The shows creators try to create a backstory, through flashbacks of Joe’s childhood, in which an absent mother and an abusive father are shown to be the base of his more psychotic tendencies. The scenes are unnecessary, poorly acted, and cliché. What’s worse is they’re not even the only half baked storylines that make the final cut.
As in the first season, “You” features a lot of social commentary, more specifically on the #metoo movement. Unlike in the first season, however, it is not in the least bit subtle here, and after building up a huge plotline surrounding sexual harassment, the writers pretty much abandon ship, and we’re left at a dead end, with the story never really being capped off.
Third in the Trifecta of bad story arcs, is the ending. Obviously I’m not gonna go into detail here, but it was stupid: Really stupid, like kicking a bear stupid, and when stripped down, its basically just a plug for “You: Season 3”, and I hate that. There’s a saying I came up with, back in 4th grade: “Carpe Diem”. It means seize the day, or live in the now, ( I didn’t come up with it)but the point is, this show clearly doesn’t know how to do that. Instead, we are treated to a manufactured, sort of predictable twist ending, and it’s a black mark on the entire show.
All in all, this show’s still fun. It’s captivating enough to engage you for something like 5 hours of run time, and keep you on the edge of your seat for most of it. However, it’s pretty clear that its lost some of, if not all of its spark. Of course, I’ll watch season 3, but a big part of me doesn’t want to, because I know by then it will have declined even more. Still though, even if it lacks its old depth, You is a good time, and with a little less enthusiasm than last year, I would recommend it to anyone.