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Movies & TV

09th Feb 2023

You Season 4 Part One puts the “fun” back into fundamentally problematic

Rory Cashin


The first half of the new season arrives on Netflix this week.

There has always been a queasy feeling around liking YOU, which purposefully puts us in the mind-frame of a psychopathic serial killer who is prone to falling in love at first sight, warping himself to become the dream version of the man for the latest objection of his dangerous affections, and then when things don’t go his way… several people wind up dead.

Not only does the show actively try to point out over and over again that Joe (brilliantly underplayed by Penn Badgley) is the bad guy, you don’t have to look very far to find the endless thirst dedicated to him online. On top of that, while the creators of YOU are very aware that Joe is the bad guy, he does also keep getting away with it… so their queasy feeling comes from being unsure as to whose side we’re actually supposed to be on here. Do we want handsome Joe to keep getting away with murder? Because if not, the show doesn’t seem to agree.

Following on from the met-his-match shenanigans of the third season, the first part of Season 4 looks to aggressively wipe the slate clean and give us something completely different to enjoy. Joe, now Jonathan – or Jo(e)anthan, as we’ll be calling him- is an English professor at a posh London university, who gets swept up in the life of his rich neighbour and fellow college professor Malcolm (Stephen Hagan) and his beautiful but secretive girlfriend Kate (Charlotte Ritchie).

Through them, we meet a group of spoiled and almost universally awful London socialites: Lady Phoebe (Tilly Keeper), arguably the only decent one; her boyfriend Adam (Lukas Gage), a trust fund American ex-pat; social ambassador Sophie (Niccy Lin), tech artist Simon (Aidan Cheng), aristocrat Roald (Ben Wiggins), old friend Gemma (Eve Austin), and Nigerian princess Blessing (Ozioma Whenu), all truly horrid folk.

Also in the mix is hopeful politician Rhys (Ed Speelers), personal bodyguard Vic (Sean Pertwee), and Jo(e)nathan’s cleverest student Nadia (Amy-Leigh Hickman), and all of their paths cross in the worst way imaginable when a dead body suddenly appears in Jo(e)nathan’s apartment. He didn’t kill them, he doesn’t know who did, but he’s sure he’s about to be framed for the murder… and things only get worse whenever more bodies start popping up.

Cleverly, the “can he keep his psychopathy a secret?” angle has been shunted to second place in the new season, as Jo(e)nathan finds himself in the middle of a literal murder mystery. Diving into the works of Agatha Christie and the likes, the exact stuff he’s supposed to be teaching in his class (nice symmetry there), there is a lovely meta-ness to the serial killer trying to decipher the clues to a mystery involving another murder mystery.

And as if that wasn’t enough, as much as we all know that Joe is/was a Very Bad Man, the new season surrounds him with characters that you’ll actively dislike immediately. Yes, Joe kills people, but he was never rude to service staff! Off with their heads!

The first half of the season ends on a delicious cliffhanger that some of the more acute viewers might have figured out ahead of time, but this has always been the case with the best murder mysteries, it was never really about who did it, it was about how they planned on getting away with it…

You Season 4 Part One arrives on Netflix today (Thursday, 9 February), with Part Two arriving on Thursday, 9 March.

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