You, one of the best shows on Netflix, commenced its fourth season with the first five episodes on February 9 and the remaining five set for release on March 9. Now that Joe (Penn Badgley) is going by the name Jonathan and working as a professor in London, he is reluctantly making new friends. Once again, something about Joe draws people in the upper echelon of society to him, even when he doesn’t quite fit in.
The newly introduced characters are mostly snobby, elitist spoiled rich kids who make up for what they lack in talent and drive with ample bank accounts. Each comes from a wealthy family and most of them haven’t had to work a day in their lives. Joe resents them for it, revolted by every conversation. But there’s no denying they make for good television. Interestingly, many of the best new characters in You are just as awful as Joe, but in different ways.
Simon (Aidan Cheng) accurately personifies every negative stereotype about Gen-Z. Joe first describes Simon as someone trying to portray himself as a tortured artist when the worst thing he has likely ever endured was a paper cut that daddy quickly bandaged. The son of a tech entrepreneur, Simon likes to present himself as standoffish and mysterious, beating to his own drum. When he is first introduced to Joe, he quickly cuts him off, declaring his disinterest in getting to know this man who is clearly beneath him on the social status scale. He “has enough friends,” Simon tells Joe, but suggests he “look him up” once one of them is dead. It’s an eerie foreshadowing of things to come, but also comical in the way Simon believes he can, and should, treat people.
Even though he is rude and talentless, there’s something to be said for being confident enough not to conform to societal standards. As the rebel of the group, when a sad discovery is made about the origins of his art, viewers despise him even more.
Straight off his role on The White Lotus where actor Lukas Gage was part of one of the most memorable sex scenes in the first season, Gage coincidentally found himself in a similarly sexually charged scene as Adam in You. Despite being in a seemingly committed relationship, Adam is a man of secret fetishes and worries about settling down.
A wealthy young man living off his parents’ money and reputation, Adam is the stereotypical rich boy. He squanders his money, flaunts his wealth, and starts businesses without knowing what he’s doing, only to get frustrated when they fail, leaning on his father to save him. Why, he asks himself in one scene, does it work for Ashton Kutcher when he invests? Adam is completely oblivious to what it means to be a real business owner and to actually work to earn. He is far from threatening but also reckless, a loose cannon who is worth watching because fans never know what he is going to do next.
Ed Speleers takes on the role of Rhys, the only person within Joe’s new social circle that he has any interest in talking to. He’s an author whose autobiography Joe read and instantly connected with. Rhys’ story is that of a man with a troubled childhood who turned his life around, something that Joe feels he relates to a lot, especially when it comes to troubled childhood.
Rhys has all the makings of a serial killer, from a charming yet narcissistic personality to ambition and a desire for power with a willingness to get rid of anyone who stands in his way. Rhys is also a reflection of Joe. What’s most interesting about him is that he is one of few who manages to charm Joe to the point that he barely glosses over Rhys as a possibility to be the Eat the Rich killer.
The very fact that she refers to herself as “lady” is evidence of just how pretentious Phoebe is. Yet you can’t help but like her because she comes across as oddly relatable. Despite all her money and fame, Phoebe is always concerned that she isn’t enough for others and worried if people truly love, not just worship her. No amount of money in the world can buy self-esteem.
Phoebe is likely far smarter than her social status would permit her to demonstrate. Instead, she plays the ditzy socialite, getting into trouble, attending parties, and perpetually networking with people for no other reason than to keep her name in the spotlight. There’s clearly more depth to Phoebe than she lets on, which makes her one of the more quietly interesting characters in the season.
With lines like “I don’t much care if you think I’m a bitch and in fact, I’d actually prefer it,” it’s tough not to love Kate. Played by Charlotte Ritchie, Kate slowly warms to Joe, and proves worthy of his next obsession. While Joe gives in to the temptation several times, however, he is fixated on someone other than Kate, and not in a romantic way.
Kate doesn’t fall into the same class as Joe’s previous victims: she isn’t as troubled as Beck nor as disturbed as Love. Despite her family wealth, she does not associate with them and is determined to make it on her own. As the only one of her group of friends who seriously works for a living doing something that could be considered even remotely admirable, Kate is an exciting new character. She isn’t as easily charmed by Joe like others are, which has fans wondering whether she, too, ends up falling under his spell in the end.
Nadia, played by Amy-Leigh Hickman, is the eager student who loves to engage in intelligent discourse about literary works with her professor and the other students in class. She isn’t afraid to express her opinions and debate every nuance of a written text. Her love of the formulaic murder mystery genre works to Joe’s advantage since she’s able to inadvertently help him identify the murderer, or at least narrow things down to discover who it is.
Nadia is intelligent, sociable, hard-working, and a good conversationalist. It’s clear her road hasn’t been an easy one, as evidenced when she talks about the small jobs she has taken to make ends meet. While Nadia isn’t featured as often as other new characters in the first half of season 4, she’s one of the more interesting, layered ones who could play a larger role as the season progresses.
The first part of You season four is now streaming on Netflix.
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