You season four part two review – utterly terrible … and yet it is perfect | Television


In a 2014 episode of the US sitcom Community, a character named Abed is driven round the bend by his quest to determine whether Nicolas Cage is “good or bad”. This is the same gibbering state that awaits those trying to assess the merits of season four of You. The cast is inconsistent, the satire is shallow, plot lines materialise out of nowhere and are unceremoniously dropped with jarring frequency, and its largest twist is laughable.

And yet, it is perfect.

While the first half of season four vacillated between bad, good and so-bad-it’s-good with aplomb, the second broadens the spectrum from astonishingly terrible to utterly brilliant. It picks up where we left off: Joe AKA Prof Jonathan Moore (played by Penn Badgley) is back in London having evaded being immolated by the “Eat the Rich” Killer, who was revealed to be Rhys Montrose (a delightful Ed Speleers), a working-class man repulsed by the elite circles he now mixes in. Rhys is passionately campaigning to become London’s mayor, and Joe is stalking his nemesis, convinced that he must best him before he pins a slew of murders on him – ignoring the lengthy monologue in which Rhys stated his intention to pin the murders on maniacal aristo Roald. Not that “pinning” the murders on anyone seems wholly necessary, given that the investigative forces behind a highly publicised serial killer haven’t noticed that a man with a fake identity, whose only disguise is a baseball cap, has been at every crime scene.

A certain breeziness seems to permeate virtually every character. Aside from Lady Phoebe, no one seems particularly perturbed by their recent murder-filled weekend away. The second half of the season spends less time with the group of snobs we’ve come to love to hate, but we still get plenty of Lukas Gage’s seriously appalling playboy, Adam. He joins Shay Mitchell’s socialite, Peach, from season one, James Scully’s trust fund baby, Forty Quinn, from season two and Shalita Grant’s swinging momfluencer, Sherry, from season three as this season’s MVP. His scenery-chewing helps to distract from the low stakes of his storyline about whether a private member’s club will secure sufficient financial backing.

Lukas Gage as Adam and Tilly Keeper as Lady Phoebe in You.
Scenery-chewing … Lukas Gage as Adam and Tilly Keeper as Lady Phoebe in You. Photograph: Netflix

To keep the wheels in motion, and to get around the liberties this show takes with plot structure and human behaviour, we get a lot of characters monologuing. But this “tell don’t show” approach somehow works in its favour. The camp joys are at their finest when characters stare into the middle distance and unveil diabolical schemes. Charlotte Ritchie proves particularly adept at this as Joe’s love interest Kate, looking haunted as she reveals some of the most dumbfounding motives imaginable.

You succeeds because its flaws are so enjoyable. Never mind Greg Kinnear and Ritchie being the worst father-daughter casting in living memory. Never mind that there are so many “you”s referred to in Joe’s narration that it’s impossible to follow who he’s talking about half the time. Never mind that the performances are pitched so differently that it could be an ungodly collage from a dozen disparate shows. You is having a riot unencumbered by the pursuit of nuance. Joe’s snarky Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde internal monologue, the ridiculous leaps in logic, and the sizzling homoeroticism between Rhys and Joe are all part of the fun.

A brief reappearance from Victoria Peretti as Joe’s wonderfully deranged ex-wife, Love, only serves to highlight the dusty void of chemistry between Ritchie and Badgley. But that also works to the show’s advantage, when even the most heavily signposted developments maintain an air of surprise because it’s never clear if Joe and Kate actually like each other.

The final episode proves to be the best/worst, with a series of plotlines concluding either off-screen, with unhinged twists or with actual magic. Whereas earlier seasons ended by trying to subvert our expectations of romcoms and white male privilege, the conclusions of seasons three and four both seem to have been freed from the need to mean anything at all. It’s just a chance for the writers to play whack-a-mole with a many-headed hydra of plot. But as with watching Joe scheme his way out of a murder, there’s a similar meta-textual joy in watching the writers figure their way out of chaos.

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There are hints as to what the future could hold (season five has not been announced, but given the show’s popularity it seems assured) but at this point, every shark has been jumped. Despite having adored this hottest of messes, the show, like Joe, should probably quit while he’s ahead.

You is on Netflix now.

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Denis Ava
Denis Ava
Denis Ava is mainly a business blogger who writes for Biz Grows. Rather than business blogs he loves to write and explore his talents in other niches such as fashion, technology, travelling,finance,etc.



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