Love Quinn looking at Joe in the glass cage in You season 2

Every Season of ‘You,’ Ranked Worst to Best

Let's rank 'You.'

Hello … You. Watching this chaotic psychological thriller series is a stressful but enjoyable experience. Ultimately, it depends on how much you can tolerate following Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) as the primary protagonist—all while he follows his obsessions around and occasionally murders them. Marienne (Tati Gabrielle) is the only person to ever escape Joe, and even she had help doing it.

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Every season of You has something to offer in one way or another, but some are definitely better than others. Season 4 wrapped up recently, and shortly after we learned that You has been renewed for a fifth and final season—so we’ll have to wait and see where the final season falls in this ranking. But for now, this is where every season of You stands with me:

4. Season 3

Joe and Love laying down in bed in You Season 3

It may come as a surprise that You season 3 lands at the bottom for me. Despite the drama, Victoria Pedretti’s performance, and Love’s increasing hotness the more unhinged she becomes, season 3 is pretty mid. The writing is too soapy: the boring obsession who gets murdered impulsively, Love having an affair with the next door neighbor’s 19-year-old son, and Joe and Marienne’s incredibly rushed relationship. It’s not an unwatchable season by any means (the finale is actually really tense and the last scenes between Love and Joe are really great), but it’s just not as good as it could’ve been. If they kept the energy from the previous two seasons, then the setting would’ve been even more unsettling.

3. Season 4

Rhys and Joe looking at Tom Lockwood in You season 4 part 2

I basically sum up my issues with You season 4 by in this breakdown of what could’ve been done better. But there were things that made it better than the previous season. The London setting helped bring a new feeling to the show, and rather than Joe’s obsession being a random woman we’d be stuck comparing to Love, he becomes secretly obsessed with mayoral candidate Rhys Montrose (Ed Speleers). Interesting turn of events, right? Aside from the boring aspects of the season, the pointless side characters, Kate (Charlotte Ritchie) as Joe’s girlfriend, and the obvious twists, season 4 gave us a new favorite character, a new ship (Joe x Rhys), and some of my favorite scenes in the show. We were lucky to get talented folks like Ed Speleers, Tilly Keeper, and Amy-Leigh Hickman as cast newbies. They all killed it!

2. Season 1

Beck trying to stay brave in the glass cage in You season 1

The terrifying nature of the first season of You is hard to replicate. Season 1 doesn’t bother trying to hide how scary Joe actually is as a character. Even though we stay in his perspective for most of the season, you shouldn’t root for him to secretly control Beck (Elizabeth Lail)’s life and take away her choices. And the fact that Beck doesn’t survive (just like her book counterpart) is even more horrifying to think back on. The season has a variety of memorable characters that all range in how horrible they are, scenes that give off horror vibes, and a tremendous performance from Penn Badgley. Season 1 really makes you think about what’s romanticized in terms of dating and how often toxic (and potentially dangerous) men are labeled as nice guys.

1. Season 2

Joe Goldberg looking at his neighbor Natalie in You season 2 finale

It may seem controversial for You season 2 to land at the top, but the fact remains that season 2 is really entertaining. Joe traveling to Los Angeles was ultimately the best decision, and the characters were interesting once again. Of course, Joe does get up to the same bullshit, but this time he becomes obsessed with Love, who obsesses and stalks him in return. It’s a turn of events that’s only revealed at the tail-end of the season, and it’s brilliant (even if it was predictable to some). It also explores some hard topics that aren’t easy to swallow. Ultimately, season 2 has great rewatch value and balances humor, drama, and thriller elements pretty well.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Vanessa Maki
Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a queer Blerd and contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She first started writing for digital magazines in 2018 and her articles have appeared in Pink Advocate (defunct), The Gay Gaze (defunct), Dread Central and more. She primarily writes about movies, TV, and anime. Efforts to make her stop loving complex/villainous characters or horror as a genre will be futile.