Creators: Greg Berlanti, Sera Gamble
Cast: Penn Badgley, Tati Gabrielle, Charlotte Richie, Tilly Keeper, Amy Leigh-Hickman, Ed Speleers, Lukas Gage, Adam James, Stephen Hagan
Genre: Psychological mystery
Release: February 9, 2023
5 episodes, 1h each
Serial killer Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) escaped the suburbs of California, leaving behind everyone he knew. To hit reset and live an honest life, Joe moves to London. But trouble follows him as always, and bodies fall around in his new circle of elite friends.
Penn Badgley kills it as Joe
Penn Badgley is amazing as expected. We can always rely on him to render sociopathic Joe with effortlessness and cool. The audience will keep forgetting he’s the bad guy, and take his side whenever he is morally dubious. Badgley plays Joe with enough self-awareness to be funny but retains some cluelessness whenever he thinks he’s doing the right thing when it’s really the opposite.
Joe has moved to the UK under the identity of “Jonathan Moore” and now teaches English lit at a university. So he is surrounded by a cast of talented British actors. They include Charlotte Richie (BBC’s ‘Ghosts’ ), Amy Leigh-Hickman (‘Ackley Bridge’) and Ed Speleers (‘Outlander’). The cast does a splendid job in being quirky and heartless, often at once.
Sometimes, Kate Galvin (Charlotte Ritchie) has an air about her that’s like a British sketch rather than something more authentic. Maybe it is in her accent, her constant coldness towards Joe for no reason, and her stiff-upper-lip personality that borders on stereotyping. It gets worse when Kate and Joe’s romantic subplot feels forced and gets pushed to the forefront of the show. Their chemistry is lacking when compared to Joe and Love Quinn in the previous outings. Joe and Kate’s NSFW scenes look tiring and needless. This was pointed out by netizens online after its release and Actor Penn Badgley commented during promotions that he wanted some sex scenes cut from the show.
Amy Leigh-Hickman, an Anglo-Indian actress who was a firebrand in Channel 4’s ‘Ackley Bridge’, shines as the brilliant student Nadia. Nadia is an addition to You’s roster of smart youngsters who get involved in grown people’s mess, including Jenna Ortega in the second season and Dylan Arnold in the third. Unfortunately, we don’t see much of Tati Gabrielle’s Marienne the way Part 1’s trailer had us believe.
Sometimes, the comedy arising from the cultural clash between American Joe and his British colleagues makes for a laugh. The subtle writing wins, like Joe spitefully describing Kate to have a “BAFTA-winning performance” – a British award – as opposed to the American Oscars. The Britishness rears its head again when Joe is entangled in a murder mystery – à la Agatha Christie novels – along with other snobby Brits. This is observed by Joe when everybody becomes a suspect.
But sometimes, alluding to British mannerisms gets tiresome, like a parody gone too far. This is when a bodyguard keeps saying “Oi” and “innit” when speaking to Joe. Also, why is it that “Britishness” is always used to refer to posh areas of London and the metropolitan South?
Playful settings for every Season
But setting the backdrop as Britain isn’t always a bad thing. It feels fresh for the show which was set in the States for the last 3 seasons. What is laudable is that the show’s creators always place Joe in a very different location in every season so that each Season has a unique smell to it. It was New York City in Season 1, L.A. in Season 2 and Californian suburbs in Season 3.
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In the end, it makes you ask, “Is that all there is?” The twist ending goes too far for some people and won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
However, the cast and the constant twists and reveals make sure that even as we don’t thoroughly love the show, we will still keep watching.
Parts 1 and 2 of You – Season 4 are out now on Netflix.
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