You Season 3 review: There's something compelling about toxic people doing toxic things

No matter how reprehensible these characters are, you can't look away.

Steph Panecasio Former Editor
Steph Panecasio was an Editor based in Sydney, Australia. She knows a lot about the intersection of death, technology and culture. She's a fantasy geek who covers science, digital trends, video games, subcultures and more. Outside work, you'll most likely find her rewatching Lord of the Rings or listening to D&D podcasts.
Steph Panecasio
4 min read

Victoria Pedretti and Penn Badgley in You.


If the influx of wholesome television -- namely Ted Lasso -- hasn't satisfied your cravings for a bingeable show, season 3 of Netflix's You promises a much more intense, heavy flavor.

If you're yet to set eyes on You, just picture the worst person you know, add in some light stalking, some throat-cutting and a dash of parental issues. Originally on Lifetime, the show features the very worst of what people are capable of when they're obsessed.

Season 3 pick up shortly after season 2's cliffhanger admission of Love's pregnancy. Love and Joe -- whose stalkery monologuing has been a mainstay of the show -- have moved to the quiet Stepford-esque suburban town of Madre Linda where they raise new baby boy, Henry. Before long, the constraints of small town life rub raw on the couple, who seemingly are incapable of restraining their murderous urges.

Victoria Pedretti's Love is a standout, exploring the irrational, passionate end of the aggression spectrum, while Penn Badgley's Joe is the quiet, eerily charismatic stalker he's always been. Together, they make the perfect team, offsetting each other's failings and coming together to avoid detection.

Yet it's hard to feel any kind of sympathy for Love and Joe. If you're expecting a redemption arc or for them to suddenly have turned over a new leaf as parents, you can think again. Both Love and Joe are deeply flawed, deeply toxic people. There are plenty of reasons for why they are the way they are, but none of them are justifiable. It's just toxic, plain and simple.

So too are some brand-new faces, including a fame-hungry mommy blogger and her hyper-masculine husband (portrayed by Shalita Grant and Travis Van Winkle to great effect), plus a sprinkling of anti-vax neighbors and gluten-free tech entrepreneurs. It's admittedly hard to find anyone redeemable in the show, though in fairness that's not really the premise. Where season 2 had Ellie to hold faith in, here we're stuck with baby Henry as our catalyst to hope that things might be better in the future.

Set in a town where everyone is tech-savvy and surveillance goes hand-in-hand with the home owner's association, the show asks us to suspend belief more than usual that Joe and Love aren't going to be caught for their crimes. Where in the past you'd get mad at the characters for leaving behind literal jars of their own urine at crime scenes, now you get mad that they seemingly have no concern with taking their GPS-enabled phones to dump bodies.

It's sheer, dumb luck. We're expected not to balk when they've somehow got an entire human body halfway across town without someone cottoning on. They get away with so much more than they ever should or would be able to in real life.

But for all its impossibility, You is incredibly compelling television. Viewers are treated to a full spectrum of sociopathy -- from the cold and calculating stalker to the impulsive and irrational passion of the misaligned mother. Joe and Love are reprehensible and yet you can't look away.


Joe and Love's marriage might not be as picture-perfect as the town seems to believe.


Joe and Love are equally angry at each other for behaviors they're both exhibiting themselves. Their portrait of a crumbling marriage is held together by knowing too much about what the other is capable of. Are Joe and Love truly soulmates? Even if they're not fated by destiny, it sure seems like they deserve each other.

In the same vein of superhero films that keep having to raise the stakes with another "Big Bad," You season 3 gives off the air of needing to go bigger and more sociopathic than we've seen before. We're almost desensitized to the very things that put us off in the first two seasons -- you wanna cage someone up in a tiny glass room? Go ahead, that's not shocking anymore.

Joe and Love themselves seem desensitized too -- they argue more about how sloppy a murder was rather than the fact that someone was murdered at all. Both the characters and the audience have fully accepted that there'll be a continuation of murder -- it's less a question of if it happens, but how.

So it'll be interesting to see how stakes are escalated again with the newly confirmed season 4. Will the characters learn anything other than how best to get away with their crimes? Will they be held accountable for literally anything? It's unlikely, but it's damn good television.

If you don't have the mental energy for anything other than wholesome shows, we wouldn't blame you. It's been a hard couple of years. But if you want to fall deep into the world of sociopathic, impulsive murder machines with very little redeeming factors, season 3 of You is the perfect show for, well, you.