You K

Published date14 February 2023
Publication titleSignal
ONE of the trickier aspects of You is its inability to reconcile its contradictory sides. On the one hand, it adores Joe (Penn Badgley), its book-loving, supersensitive lead who can disguise himself completely by putting on a baseball cap; on the other, he stalks and murders women who fascinate him, plus any men who get in the way of his obsessions

In previous series, the show dealt with this tiny personality flaw by pairing him with a woman called Love who was as over the top, shall we say, as he was. By the end of season three, even she was too much of a killer for him, so Love had to go, taking with her the increasingly diluted gag about whether anyone was talking about love or Love.

Now, Joe, who has been declared dead in the US after leaving a bit of his foot behind in his old house, has come to London to re-stalk Marienne, the librarian who intrigued him when he was living in the suburbs.

Viewers sensitive to geographical liberties being taken by American series should consider this a trigger warning: not only does Joe end up posing as a professor on a vast university campus that seems to be inside Spitalfields market, but also we see a brief establishing shot of a part of London that looks suspiciously like Oxford. Don’t get me started on the efficiency of his walking routes, or the fact that no-one goes into a pub in England and sits at the bar, alone, drinking neat whisky. It’s a pint in the corner with a newspaper, thank you very much.

In Spare, Prince Harry writes about ‘‘Club H’’, in the basement of Highgrove, where he would hang out with his brother, Willy, and bring back friends from the pub, who all had nicknames like Badger and Skippy. You’s take on England is very much this world. Here, ‘‘twatty big dick’’ is the kind of insult that people use freely; everyone hunts with shotguns while spending a weekend at the country pile.

Under the alias of Jonathan Moore, Joe teaches English in the middle of Spitalfields and lives in Kensington in a vast flat borrowed from a Skippy or Badger type called Malcolm. Malcolm introduces Joe to his high society friends: an artist and billionaire’s son named Simon, an heiress named Gemma, a socialite named — I’m not making this up — Lady Phoebe Borehall-Blaxworth, and a gallerist, Kate (Charlotte Ritchie), who is the daughter of a supermodel.

It is all jolly hockey sticks...

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