Everyone’s favorite sociopath Joe Goldberg is back, now that Netflix has released Season 2 of “You.” The series, which is based on two novels by Caroline Kepnes, “You” and “Hidden Bodies,” centers on Joe Goldberg (played by Penn Badgley), a manager at a New York City bookstore who meets a young writer named Beck. It’s love at first sight for Joe as he sets out on a mission to make Beck his at all costs — even if that means murder.
The series became a huge success for the streaming service as the first season was watched over 40 million times in its first few weeks of being on the platform. With an eventful Season 1, many viewers are wondering how the second season will fare in comparison and if it can live up to its predecessor. As an avid viewer of the first season and someone who just recently finished the second, I am here today to compare the two and provide a verdict on the big question: It is worth watching?
The first episode picks up with our dashing modern-day Dexter as he relocates from the Big Apple to a new metropolitan hub, The City of Angels, Los Angeles. We, the viewers, shortly begin to realize that Joe is no longer Joe, and is going by a new name, Will Bettlehiem, in order to avoid being found by his ex, Candace. Things begin to take a familiar path when Joe, now Will, moves into an apartment and shortly after meets a young woman at the local book cafe and grocery store. The young woman is revealed to be Love Quinn, a Angeleno who works at Anavrin, the aforementioned family food mart/bookstore.
While Joe is trying to escape the past, he begins to fall back into his old self when he takes a job selling books at Anavrin, then moves into an apartment right by Love’s. Like Beck, Love and Will have chemistry almost immediately upon meeting and the storyline for the first two episodes seems to run pretty parallel to the first season. Love was born into wealth and has an eclectic group of close friends, just like Beck and her gal pals. The season shortly begins to take one of its many twists and turns when Candace, Joe’s ex-girlfriend — who we were briefly introduced to through flashbacks in Season 1 — appears and is now romantically linked to Forty, Love’s twin brother.
This first twist allows me to discuss one of the main ways that the second season of “You” differs from the first. Many could argue that the first season had its fair share of twists and surprises, and that would be a reasonable way of thinking; however, the surprises in the second season come quite a bit more out of left field and make for a good binge-watching session on the edge of your seat. Like the first season, characters are killed off mysteriously left and right. In this season, however, a few characters are revealed to be completely different individuals than they first let on. These specific characters do not show their true colors until the end of the season, which adds to the suspense.
Another way that the second season of “You” differs from the previous season is the inclusion of backstory. In the first season of the series, we do not really learn about Joe’s past and what led up to him becoming the type of person that he is today. The second season is filled with flashbacks of Joe’s childhood and explanations for his behaviors. We learn that Joe’s father was abusive and that his mother tried to escape the situation, which often led to Joe being left on his own and developing what could be seen as abandonment issues.
Season 2 is also important in divulging information about Candace, Joe’s ex-girlfriend. As mentioned briefly above, Candace is introduced through flashbacks in the first season, but not much is revealed about her. In this season, we learn about her at last through vivid flashbacks that fill in the gaps as well as conversations between the two during one specific episode.
One major improvement from the previous season is the amount of diversity amongst the characters and their actors. There are many individuals of color present through the second series of the show. The series also includes representation for the LGBTQ+ community, as several of the characters are either lesbians or gay. The season even ends with a wedding between two of Love’s lesbian friends.
It also tackles some other important issues, like drug and alcohol addiction and the #MeToo movement. The series did not beat around the bush when discussing the issues and the ups and downs of each were portrayed through their respective characters.
So, after all of this information, what’s my verdict? Is the second season worth the 600 minutes it takes to watch the 10 episodes in the season? As a big fan of the first season, I would highly suggest that anyone who watched Season 1 give the second season a go. The first season gave the viewers an abundance of information and left viewers with many unanswered questions. The second season answers a majority of those questions and, despite having an almost completely different cast, is easy to get invested in as the new characters are interesting and stand out on their own.
That being said, if you haven’t watched the first season already, I would argue that the second season is such a fantastic binge-watch that it is worth watching Season 1 in order to truly enjoy the second. All in all, “You” has made some improvements on its first season and built upon the strong foundation created in the beginning of the series, making for an enjoyable watch for fans and new viewers alike.