Review: That’s a “You” problem


Photo from IMDb

Warning: This review contains spoilers from the first three seasons of “You”.

What happens when a whodunnit doesn’t make you care whodunnit? Unfortunately, the newest season of the hit Netflix series “You” fits this description, straying from its original style to become just another stale murder mystery.

Season four, part one of “You” picks up right where season three left off, following Joe to London for a new life, this one hopefully free of murder, meat grinders and severed toes. However, his European vacation is quickly sidelined when he is thrown head-first into the ring of London’s wealthiest, left to navigate its complex politics. To say the least, among top businessmen, social media stars and the descendants of royals, our protagonist is more than a little out of his element. As Joe (now known as Professor Jonathon Moore) becomes further ingrained in this vicious pack of socialites, he finds himself in the midst of a murder mystery when members of the elitist “friend group” start getting picked off by an elusive killer.

Several issues stuck out within the first episode, quickly turning my relative excitement for the newest chapter of “You” sour. Immediately, the first part of season four felt completely disconnected from the first three seasons, and almost like a different show. This was likely the result of an entirely new cast, different scenery and the total abandonment of previous plot lines. For example, the love interest in season three (as well as Joe’s whole motivation for moving to London in the first place) is virtually nonexistent. It doesn’t take a renowned screenwriter to know that cutting off previous seasons of your Netflix series isn’t a great idea.

The cliche “whodunnit” theme of this season did the storyline no favors, either. While seasons one through three focused on Joe’s dark affairs, season four opted for the most overdone form of thriller. The entire premise of yet another main character playing Sherlock has been exhausted and left me bored, the last thing viewers want when watching a thriller.

And though bringing the setting to London is visually interesting, it changes the overall atmosphere of the show that made me enjoy season one. In the first season, the plot focused on a delusional “nice guy” in New York that slowly inserted himself into every aspect of his love interest’s life. This creepy scenario was similar to what happens in the real world, and fulfilled all of the classic thriller criteria. An obsessive stalker? Check. Gritty downtown scenery? Check. Romance gone wrong? Check, check, check.

In contrast, the fourth chapter of “You” throws us into the unfamiliar circus that is London’s aristocracy, surrounded by one-dimensional characters whose sole purpose is to play the rich snobs we hate. None of it is relatable, unless you happen to mingle with billionaires every day.

That’s not to say that season four, part one has no redeeming qualities. Penn Badgeley’s acting is as great as ever, and I found myself really enjoying his new love interest, Kate Galvin, played by Charlotte Ritchie. Their relationship feels real, and I was glad it got the amount of screen time it deserved.

To interested viewers, I would recommend watching the first three seasons of “You” and only watching the fourth if you are an absolute murder mystery fanatic. What was once an intriguing and chilling take on modern romance has quickly devolved into just another unoriginal Netflix series. But with part two of season four premiering March 9, perhaps the writers will surprise us. To both the creators of the show and the viewers, I offer the same advice: stop while you’re ahead.