You season 2 review: Does the Netflix series live up to its own hype?
Note: contains spoilers for You season one.
You season two feels like it's been a long time coming. Considering it was less than a year ago that the stalker series (a genre, from this day forward) first hit Netflix, the hype is a testament to the unprecedented attention it received.
Formerly a Lifetime series, You's debut on the streaming platform really cemented its fanbase but also piled on the pressure for the show's creators to pull it out of the bag for its second run.
First thing's first: You is trash. There's nothing wrong with a bit of trash, but let's call a spade a spade and measure our expectations accordingly.
Season two opens with Joe Goldberg's "fresh start", having left his demons (or, you know, the dead ex girlfriend and the man he framed for her murder) behind in pursuit of a new life. Obviously because of those skeletons (for lack of a better word), he needs a new identity, revealed in the trailer to be that of Will Bettelheim.
We shouldn't need to tell you that this sucks quite a bit for the real Will. But, rather than rooting for him, viewers are instead invited to see him as irritating background noise that could get in the way of our protagonist, Joe, on his troublesome pursuit of proving that he can be a better person. This is a theme that will occur, sometimes in much more extreme and problematic ways, throughout the second series.
In his new guise, Joe/Will is able to gallivant around LA, get a new job, make new friends and obsess about a new love interest who is frustratingly named Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti). But things start to get a little messy when his former girlfriend Candace (Ambyr Childers) shows up, opening a fresh can of worms in regards to the show's awful treatment of women.
Reflecting the first season, Joe/Will is back amongst his books working at café/bookstore hybrid 'Anavrin'. In case you didn't notice, this is "Nirvana" spelled backwards – just one of the wellness piss-takes thrown up (at one point literally) in the 10-episode run. The store also just so happens to be owned by Love's dysfunctional and privileged parents, with her traumatised and troubled brother Forty also working there.
As far as the plot goes, we can't give too much else away without massively spoiling it for you (yes, You). But despite its new city and new names, the formula for the show largely remains the same – at least for the first few episodes, before things start to veer off into strange, unsettling and sometimes just downright wrong directions.
For fans who fell for the first season of You (and yes, those that were weirdly pining after a serial killer), we have every reason to believe that this second helping will do it for you.
But if you felt in any way unsettled by its debut series, the follow-up only continues down that bunny hole – and, by its climax, it may just lose you.
The ending will no doubt have you screaming at your screen (for better or worse, depending on how you stomached the rest of it), but what is clear is that they've set up a third season, should they choose to renew it.
Where You really falls is its handling of the topics explored, but it's hard to expect it to have done any better when it's simply not as clever as it thinks it is.
The show's co-creator Sera Gamble has already acknowledged that "Joe is at the centre of the story", also teasing that "anyone who is Team Joe will be richly rewarded for their time watching" season two.
So really, we shouldn't have expected anything different (or better).
Where it does succeed as a piece of entertainment, a bit like 13 Reasons Why before it, is that once you've started watching you feel compelled to keep going just to see where it all ends up. Your enjoyment will really depend on whether you can distance yourself from the narrative (told unreliably from Joe's warped point of view).
Season two drops on Netflix on Dece,ber 26 – the perfect excuse to stay in your PJs and binge-watch, and we'd invite you to do so in order to make up your own mind.
For now, just make sure you shut your curtains.
You season two lands on Netflix on December 26.