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All You Need is Love: A Review of Season Two of “You”

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A killer. An obsession. The second most populated city in America. 

What could go wrong?

Last month, Netflix released the newest installment of their original hit thriller “You.” Complete with Great Gatsby references, flaming palm trees and a pile of corpses, this season did not disappoint.

Abandoning the illustrious New York scene, season two follows protagonist Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) to the city of dreams: Los Angeles. While there, Joe quickly learns how the consequences of the past do not lie behind, but rather lurk around the next corner.

In order to examine season two, a recap of the first season is necessary. The series began with Joe—a seemingly normal New York City bookstore owner whose unfaltering obsession with aspiring writer Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) inevitably led to bloodshed. Under the cover of a baseball hat—his trademark stalker accessory—Joe slayed anyone he believed could destroy his fantasy with Beck. Much in the style of famed literary serial killer Hannibal Lecter, when he was not attacking people on the streets, Joe kept his victims in the glass cage that presided in the basement of his bookstore. There, the dark side of Joe emerged as he murdered and dismembered a few key characters. The season concluded with a cliffhanger when the ex-girlfriend that Joe allegedly killed returned from the dead and demanded an explanation.

Following the scarring events of season one, Joe sets out for La La Land with the new identity of Will Bettelheim and the affirmation that love is not for him. It is only fitting that, like every classic television drama, when Joe arrives is Los Angeles, he is confronted with none other than Love herself. Love—or rather Love Quinn—is a chef at a high-end grocery store whose protective and egotistical brother, Forty Quinn, quickly begins to test Joe’s patience. And, yes, Love and Forty are named after a tennis score—it is that kind of show. This season Joe tries to find normalcy in a city as seemingly abnormal as Los Angeles. Yet, his mysterious path continues to challenge Joe as he strives to determine if he will ever be worthy of Love. As secrets begin to emerge, Joe must choose between the person he wants to be and the person he really is.

Joining the company of shows like “Dexter,” “Criminal Minds” and “Conversation with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” “You” adds to the growing list of current television shows centralizing around serial killers. The popularity of these gory productions seems to call into question society’s obsession with murder. Though some may view “You” as simply a story about a love-hungry psychopathic killer, the actor who plays Joe highlighted a more optimistic potential for the show.

During his recent appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”, Badgley offered his response to the prevailing attraction viewers continue to have to his sadistic character.

“It says something about how much we are willing to be patient and forgive someone who inhabits a body that looks something like mine—the color of my skin, my gender, these sorts of things, these sorts of privileges, you know—and how much less willing [we are] to forgive people who don’t fit those boxes,” Badgley said.

Viewing “You” as more of “social commentary” creates an interesting duality by enticing viewers to watch the show for both the great plot line and to understand the larger themes. Whatever the reason you decide to watch “You,” there is no denying that you will walk away with important life lessons, whether that be remembering to always double-check the lock on your windows or considering how society treats certain groups of people.

So next time someone asks what you are watching, be the person that simply responds, “You”.

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