By now, you’ve likely binge-watched the kombucha-filled acid trip of You’s deranged, yet delightful second season. A seductive treat known for its witty dark humor, You’s sophomore season continues to be a can’t-look-away trainwreck of toxic romance.
The return of everyone’s favorite obsession does not disappoint, as we walk the terrifyingly fine line between the allure of a “good guy” and the fantasy of the quintessential “bad boy.” In this case, the bad boy isn’t some motorcycle riding, leather jacket-wearing jock; it’s a toxic nightmare named Joe, or shall I say, Will (Penn Badgley).
The show adds a twist on last years’ central stalker theme by introducing Joe’s ex Candace (Ambyr Childers) to the equation – someone he presumed to be dead. However, she’s very much alive and privy to Joe’s dark deeds.
Candance poses a clear threat to Joe, channeling her rage into her own manipulative game of lies and deceit. She taunts Joe, enlighting him on her little plan to unveil his true murderous and sadistic nature to the world.
His response? Get the F outta there and hide. His location of choice? Los Angeles – a city he despises for all its painfully superficial celebrities and live-streaming Instagram influencers.
He adopts a completely new persona (Will) and reinvents a new life for himself. Well, sorta new. He’s still a bookstore employee, except this time it’s within a stereotypical hipster store named Anavrin – a.k.a. Nirvana spelled backward. Cringe.
Image Via Netflix
But what would You be without a female character for Joe/Will to obsess over? And this season Joe transitions his violent affections to the unsuspecting and ironically named, Love Quinn, played by The Haunting of Hill House’s Victoria Pedretti. Joe once again is intoxicated by the idealized version of Love that he’s fabricated in his mind, disregarding any pieces of her personality or lifestyle that don’t perfectly suit his fantasy of her.
Worming his way into Love’s heart, Joe begins spiraling into the dark depths of his compulsive infatuation; bringing with it the litany of transgressions we’ve become so familiar with thanks to season one. Yes, that means the return of his plexiglass book cage (although this time it lives in a storage locker in lieu of a bookstore basement).
Image Via Netflix
Similar to the first season, You expertly weaves Joe’s outwardly attractive and ostensibly perfect persona with his violent, vengeful crimes, leaving audience members somehow rooting for this perverse antihero. However, season two pushes the storyline even further, integrating Candance into the main storyline as the deeply damaged antagonist. Having her pain and desire for revenge unfold in a parallel path to Joe’s desperate attempts to win over Love’s affection is a welcome and refreshing twist. It provides viewers with a long-overdue reality check from the thrill of watching the chaotic trainwreck that is Joe.
I can’t say enough about Badgley’s performance as the alluringly sinister Joe. His voiceover narrations serve as a way for the audience to not only slip inside his mind but support (on some level) the malicious things he does. Badgley uses his internal monologue to make each word meaningful – whether they have a longing, savory appeal that makes the audience literally feel his own hunger or they’re used as a way to pivot his emotional state.
He matches this dynamic with precision on-screen. Because let’s face it: You wouldn’t work without Badgely’s ability to exude these dual personalities – charismatic and bone-chilling, attraction and disgust, erotic desire and downright fear.
Overall, I think You season two is well-deserving of a 4.5/5.
Either typing away on my keyboard or nose-deep in a good book. Say hi to me on Twitter @Kkantro.