Star Rating:


Streaming On: Watch You on Netflix

Season: 4

Episode: 5

Actors: Penn Badgley, Sean Pertwee, Tati Gabrielle

Release Date: Thursday 9th February 2023

Genre(s): Crime, Thriller

Running time: 450 minutes

Here's a fun fact.

In TV tropes, the opposite of jumping the shark - where a TV show has run its course and resorts to clownish situations to maintain interest - is growing the beard. Where does the term come from, you might ask? Every day is a school day here, folks. The term came from the third season of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation', wherein Commander Riker - that's the tall guy who stood next to Captain Picard - grew a lovely swirl of facial hair on his chiseled, all-American jawline and this coincided with the show's quality drastically improving. This also occurred on 'Deep Space Nine' too, where Commander Sisko shaved his head and grew out of beard. The idea is that a show has matured, its cast has matured, and it's growing in a more sophisticated direction.

This doesn't apply to 'You' Season 4, considering that Penn Badgley now has a beard. If anything, it's the opposite.

In the world of streaming services, series now have a much shorter window to improve. A ropey first season normally means a perfunctory second season and then cancellation - or sometimes not at all. The only way a series survives in this jungle now is if it latches on to popular consciousness instantaneously. If it begins to lose its way after the fact, so be it, but it's got to wade through the endless tides of content out there and connect. 'You' somehow managed this. Now in its fourth season, Penn Badgley has a beard. So has it hit its stride? Did it ever?

'You' is bad television. There is no other way to describe it. The writing is more wooden than an entire forest. None of the dialogue is remotely believable. The constant narration becomes irritating after five minutes. There isn't an ounce of subtlety, tension, thrills or atmosphere because - quelle surprise - the love-bombing serial killer keeps getting away with it. Sure, it might tickle with the idea of him being found out by someone, but it's just that - light amusement, and nothing else. In this season, he's fled to London and inexplicably teaching a college course on literature while falling in with a crowd of evil rich people, like there's any other kind. One of the crowd kills another member of the crowd, attempts to pin on it him, and the killer - who he talks with through a messaging app that disappears its messages instantly - discovers his true identity.

'You' copies wholesale from the greats, such as Daphne DuMaurier, Patricia Highsmith, Agatha Christie, but is nowhere even remotely on their level. It's like bad fan-fiction, and the acting is equally damnable. Penn Badgley looks like he's just checked out of things entirely, going through the motions, cashing the cheque, and pretty much consigning his career to this thing forever. The reliably hammy Sean Pertwee is in there as a bodyguard-fixer for one of the rich crowd, and Tati Gabrielle is more of a cameo than a permanent fixture. 'Euphoria' alum Lukas Gage is in there as an American ex-pat and probable Fyre Festival attendee, Charlotte Richie plays a gallery manager who is - again, quelle surprise - icy and bitchy to anyone who looks at her.

The common refrain from people who have stuck with 'You' since the beginning is that you have to watch it like it's a comedy. It's camp. It's ridiculous. You can see through it all. The dialogue is meant to be funny and clunky and cliched. Watching something ironically is fine, and many people do it. But after a while, you've got to wonder if leaning so hard into this premise - and the writers and actors cottoning on to this - effectively means the joke has run its course. When everyone's in on it, how does irony sustain it? You're just writing crap dialogue, passing it off as comedy, and expecting everyone to laugh.

There really is nothing redeeming about 'You', and given how there's so much better TV out there, running it on for another season - or in this case, splitting one season into two - just seems like a waste of everyone's time, including yours.