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Suburbia Nightmare: A “You” Season 3 Analysis

From New York to Los Angeles to the suburbs of San Francisco in Madre Linda, avid “You” fans follow Joe Goldberg across the United States waiting to see his next move, or his next “You”…

“You” follows the arguably charming yet horrifying main character Joe Goldberg. In an odd way, I can’t tell whether I should be rooting for him or hoping that he ends up in jail. During season one, he focused on his primary love interest, Guinevere Beck, who met her death when she discovered his true nature. In season two, the new love interest, Love, comes on the scene and Joe continues his usual patterns of doing anything (and I mean anything) it takes to get the girl. Luckily enough for him, he unknowingly found his perfect match—someone willing to kill for him, just as he was willing to kill for the ones he “loved.” Season three examines Love and Joe’s relationship in the middle of Madre Linda. Both Love and Joe play a complicated game of chess with each other, both involved in extramarital affairs. Love develops a connection with the college-aged neighbor boy, while Joe lusts after his boss at work.

Season three starts off hot. The suburbs of Madre Linda heavily contrast the bustling cities that the two previous seasons are set in. This season focuses on the seemingly superficial lifestyle of rich, white suburbia. Sherry Conrad seems to epitomize this suburban mom stereotype — gets her kids into the best private schools, organizes the library fundraiser without ever stepping foot into the library at another time and focuses on her lifestyle blog. Love, Joe’s love interest, immediately finds discomfort in the town and struggles when rumors of her family’s past circulate. 

Another theme explored through season three: Joe’s mommy issues. Throughout the first two seasons, Joe doesn’t quite seem to come to terms with his complicated relationship with his mother. Joe’s mom abandoned him, and the only way she felt like she could move forward was to leave him behind. The third season brings forth clarity and discovery — Joe finally admits to himself that a motive behind his actions is his complicated childhood. This breakthrough is monumental as he’s fully convinced that the reason he pursues and “protects” these women is because he genuinely loves and cares for them. This breakthrough lasted for about a minute before he went back to obsessing over Marienne, sure that she was “the one.”

Joe and Love both care for their child, Henry, and want what is best for him. Joe often sees Henry as the only reason he stays with Love for so long, since he often dreams of running away with Marienne. Joe was surprisingly thrust into fatherhood, and was disappointed when Love did not have a girl. This shows his continuous obsession with “protecting” the girls and women in his life. However, he still wanted to fight to protect Henry nonetheless.

Love, with flaws (and dead bodies) of her own, grew on me throughout this season. I empathized with her as she took care of Henry, while grieving for her dead brother, and also working to find her place in Madre Linda with her new business. Although Love is just as psychotic as Joe, I found her to be more genuine. While Joe was cool and calculated, Love acted in fits of passion – not to say that killing somebody in an act of passion versus planning it out is all that much better. 

I’m not sure what to look for in future seasons (if there are any), and I’m not sure if I want to endure Joe’s character much longer. He never seems to change, and the little character growth he appears to have is always set back with his same tendencies. 

Michelle Tasaki is a sophomore at Baylor University and grew up in Maui, Hawai'i-- bringing her island lifestyle to the middle of Texas. She has a passion for social justice issues, loves exploring the outdoors, and curling up to read a good psychological thriller once in a while. She has a love for all things fashion and thrifting, and is pursuing a degree in Public Health within Baylor's Honors Program with aspirations to attend law school post-grad.
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