Following on from the success of 2018’s first season of Netflix‘s You, developed by Greg Berlanti and Sera Gamble and loosely based on the Caroline Kepnes‘ second novel, Hidden Bodies, the second series sees Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) move from New York to Los Angeles to escape his past. Here, he starts over with a new identity and meets avid chef Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti). But as Joe attempts to forge a new love and to avoid the fate of his past romantic endeavours, he soon begins falling into his old patterns of obsession and violence when his ex Candace (Ambyr Childers) shows up and he gets mixed up in helping out his neighbours, Delilah (Carmela Zumbado) and Ellie (Jenna Ortega).
Whilst I enjoyed the first season of You, I wasn’t particularly interested in a second season but I decided to give it a go anyway. The series certainly maintains the intensity and disturbing curiosity of the first, keeping you guessing throughout as to how things will inevitably unfold, but it also feels repeated in many ways and struggles to break away from the formula.
As Joe gets involved in another case of perverse stalking, which turns out to not be as innocent as it first seems, he also gets caught up in his neighbours’ problems, once again creating a distraction to the main story and allowing the body count to stack up. Although Carmela Zumbado and Jenna Ortega are great additions to the cast and are just about the only genuinely likeable ones involved, their story does get in the way of the progress of Joe and Love’s, a relationship that I would have been much more invested in if the twists (or at least more hints towards them) had come much sooner.
I loved Joe’s character in season one, but I feel like his personality was somewhat dumbed down in this one. His character felt basic this time around, with his expressions often coming across as simple rather than seductive, not quite having the same effect as he did in the first season. There were certainly times when he came across as intense and uncomfortably attractive still, but his actions and motives also felt a lot weaker.
Seeing him so loved up felt unnatural and his love for Quinn felt pathetically desperate rather than intensely passionate, so it was only in the final few episodes that I started to get into the story once again as the unexpected twists started to unravel. Joe’s internal struggles are expressed well enough, convincing the audience to be drawn in by his character whilst reminding them frequently that he is, in fact, a deranged serial killer, but the progression of the series moved too slowly to keep me fully engaged with the characters.
I was also really excited to see Victoria Pedretti join the cast after seeing her as Nell in Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, but I didn’t enjoy her role in this series, either. Not until the final episode, however, when we got to see the real side to her character. Up until then, her character and the whole “I Wolf You” thing felt super cringy and felt really out of place compared to what emotions we were wanting from this series.
I did like the addition of Robin Lord Taylor, however. Knowing him as Penguin in Gotham, it was great to see him in something different, and his character was used really well.
With season three already confirmed, I can’t say that I’m looking forward to another season all that much as it could have been rounded up quite nicely with this one. But obviously, people are loving Joe’s creepiness so there’s no surprise that it’s been renewed already. I just don’t see where it can go from here.