You: a word we will never hear the same way again. Season three of the hit psychological thriller You, starring Penn Badgley, entices the population once again with stalker/serial killer Joe taking his ego to the fictional town of ‘Madre Linda’. Right off the bat, the chosen destination of Joe’s new home strikes immediate comparison from the previous seasons. What does this mean for the character of Joe and the writers’ intentions? He claims he has been placed in a “fake plastic suburban hell” yet this season could be considered as the one in which we come to understand Joe the most and, quite frankly, almost see change within his actions.
What is ‘Madre Linda’ to Joe? On the one hand, Madre Linda is a suburban prison where he must do the “time” as we are told by the end of Season 2. However, the use of a fictional town must also have been a purposeful choice by the writers as the previous seasons of the show have taken place in real life cities. The irony is that Joe has been placed in the world he has always dreamed of – the suburban dream – and is yet incredibly unhappy about it, saying a lot about his character. Joe’s character is inevitably fickle. Of course, Love comes into the equation and contributes to Joe’s unhappiness however, Love yearns for the same dream that Joe does. If Joe had not relayed his habits onto Natalie the actions of Love and the entire season would not have taken place. Therefore, the chance for Joe to live out is dream is impossible which could suggest why the writers Madre Linda as a fictional, alternate setting – it’s about as real as Joe’s dreams.
Joe’s role in fatherhood and the further exploration of his character within the narrative was another particular area of focus within this season. First, Joe was presented with the fact that Henry (which means ‘ruler of the home’ in Hebrew… interesting) was a boy instead of a girl. Joe is faced with the obstacle that he must connect with a male figure rather than a female, something we have not seen him do in such an intimate way so far. While this is quickly overcome with a sweet reading scene that satisfies an English student, a bigger threat beckons Joe as his fear of his actions as a parent affecting his child becomes a recurrent theme throughout the season. Whilst this is explored through both Love and Joe’s character, we gain a significant insight into Joe’s childhood that leaves us almost sympathizing with Joe. Eventually, the obstacle of parenthood is resolved with Joe abandoning Henry to start a new life. Nice….
The feeling of sympathy for Joe as a viewer is an interesting one, especially within this season as we are fore fronted by the actions of Love. The character of Love is crucial as she aids the viewer to distinguish between Love who kills for the sake of it and Joe who kills with the urge to protect. This was cleverly done by the writers as many viewers fall naturally onto Joe’s quote on quote “side” within the marriage, despite knowing he is also a bad guy. The anecdotes of his childhood also bring us to sympathize with Joe, we come to understand that there may be feelings of guilt from the times Joe has not acted on his urge to protect.
Lastly, the inclusion of COVID-19 cannot go unnoticed within season three of You. As much as the mention of coronavirus may well have been appropriate in the current climate, from a viewer’s perspective it most definitely was not needed. The purpose of shows such as You is to provide an escape from our lives however, when the characters mentioned COVID-19 it almost felt forced and brought the atmosphere down.
Regardless, You season three met viewer expectations and quite easily prepares Joe for his next target. Season four awaits!
– Maddie Cooper
Featured Image Source: Still via Youtube // You Season 3 | Official Trailer | Netflix // Netflix