Thinking Outside The Glass Box: You Season 3



Caroline Kepnes, the author of Hidden Bodies, has stated that she herself didn’t initially see Joe as a serial killer, and was surprised to realize that she had written one.

On October 15th, 2021, the third season of the popular drama series You finally reached Netflix. Taking more than a year and a half to produce due to covid, the 3rd season of the show has been much awaited by fans. Adapted from Caroline Kepnes’ book Hidden Bodies, You tells the story of Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), a serial killer who has severe attachment issues.

The show follows Joe’s journey from woman to woman, tracking his relationships and personal development. Despite reverting to killing over and over, Joe is far from a static character; he shows fascinating changes as he devotes himself to new goals and fixations. Each season, the location changes, marking a new stage in Joe’s life. In season 3, for instance, Joe starts anew with his pregnant wife and fellow serial killer, Love (Victoria Pedretti), in the posh NorCal town, Madre Linda.

If you were to watch this season for its plot, You certainly delivers. Similar to past seasons, the story is narrated by Joe, which hits all the marks for a classic unreliable narrator. Joe Goldberg draws us in with his calming voice and shrewd perception, and shocks us with unexpected twists and turns. The tension is kept at a high, leaving the constant question hanging: Will Joe kill again? Or will it be Love who kills? Even with three seasons, the bloodshed is far from over.

However, while You is a psychological drama, it doesn’t shy away from tackling social and ethical controversies. In Madre Linda, the show tactfully explores stereotypes of affluent millennials and unhealthy relationships with painfully relatable stories. Of these, there are stories of rich parents buying their kids into college, the real-world impact of anti-vaxxers, and the “missing, rich, white woman” phenomenon. Joe, the perpetual cynic, criticizes these very stereotypes until he slowly falls into them himself. With this, You suggests a powerful message—environmental pressures are very real, and all environments have their own toxicities and oases.

Intermingled with the blood splatter and impulsive murder are the generic family troubles that you’d expect to see on Modern Family. When Love feels that her husband is drifting away from her, and desperately pines for his attention again, she begins cooking and spoiling him the best she can. Yes, she’s a cold-blooded murderer, but why can’t I stop myself from feeling bad for her?

In You, the characters are more than their labels. Love Quinn, murderer is hardly enough to capture Love’s depth, and there’s a likable quality to most of the characters, even the ones with skeletons in the closet. In fact, Caroline Kepnes, the author of Hidden Bodies, has stated that she herself didn’t initially see Joe as a serial killer, and was surprised to realize that she had written one. And with each murder, it really seems like it was just an unfortunate combination of circumstance and anger issues, making it hard to really condemn the killers the way we do Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer. They seem so human, so deserving of pity. Every murder is a reminder that anyone can go from an ordinary person to a killer in one moment, and that maybe killers are human too—a terrifying thought. Even worse, there’s this unmistakable feeling that the viewer should be rooting for Joe and Love. At this point, with the couple having a whole child and a future ahead of them, it’s almost like, maybe we should just let it slide? Sweep the bodies under the rug and let them live on if they promise to be good? This conflict is especially prevalent in season 3, when it becomes clear that Joe is trying to become a better person. With the new season posing a fascinating ethical dilemma, one has to wonder: Is there redemption for Joe? Can a murderer, a serial murderer, deserve to be forgiven?

From its plot alone, You season 3 is a must-watch, but there are many other strengths the series has. For instance, the cinematography of the third season is just as well done as it was in earlier seasons. The scenes are alive with color, and the interior designs of the sets are so well crafted that I’m tempted to add them to my Pinterest. On top of that, the performances of Penn Badgley, Victoria Pedretti, Shalita Grant, and Dylan Arnold were all extremely alluring, bringing their characters to life.

Season 3 of You has all the elements of a captivating series, and it is just as good—if not better- than its previous seasons. If you have Netflix and a craving for modern TV, you won’t regret choosing You.