Words by Molly Openshaw, Arts Print Editor
I recently finished watching season three of You on Netflix. For those of you living under a rock, this series follows Joe Goldberg through his obsessions, murders and tumultuous family matters. The third season picks up with Joe and his new wife, Love, moving to the suburbs with their newborn. Coming after their slightly strange tine, to put it lightly, in Los Angeles, it is finally time for them to, seemingly, settle down.
We can see a huge shift in the location, moving from New York in series one and then Los Angeles in series two, to a “soulless wealthy suburb outside of San Francisco” called Madre Linda in this recent series.
At the outset of the first episode, Joe describes this move to the suburbs as a “white picket purgatory’. As soon as I heard this description, I thought it was a fascinating way to describe this notion of perfection portrayed in the media, especially in a domestic setting. Being both incessantly depressing and honest, Joe’s categorization of his living situation highlights how the depiction of perfection usually has a more horrific backstory.
Picket fences are often seen as a symbol of the American dream and the achievement of ideal domestic living. The accomplishment of this seems false and quite ironic due to the circumstances that have landed the family here, and the events that occur in this house. For the act of avoiding spoilers, let’s just say that if you have watched anything of this series so far, you can assume that it is not all domestic happiness.
Throughout the series this white picket fence stationed around the Quinn-Goldberg’s house act as a shielding layer to the psychotic behaviour occurring in the household. As we cross boundaries, the law and moral obligations, these fences remain standing. Whilst on the outside Joe and Love look like the idealised young, happy, newlyweds, they are holding hostages, hiding bodies and stalking.
Sera Gamble, a showrunner for You, has described the matrimony of Joe and Love as a “mostly heteronormative American fantasy of the privileged suburban nuclear family”. Here we can see how the image of the picket fence is an amalgamation of the American dream in the media. However, in You, this image is used in more of an ironic way to show how this materialistic possession as a representation of idealism and achievement is a facade. We can apply this role of materialism in achievement to other parts of the show. The character Sherry is used to display mummy bloggers and this overt media presence. As a character, Sherry is unlikable and a caricature of the social media user. There are discrepancies between the person in reality and their portrayal of their outward self.
This word purgatory is so interesting in this introduction to the third series of You. We can see how Joe is not happy with this outcome and does not see this lasting. From the beginning, the viewer can tell that this is all going downhill.
Etymology of the edition: Suburbia A noun. Coming from the noun suburb. This word comes from the Old French, subburbe, which originates from the Latin suburbium. This comes from the two morphemes sub, meaning under, and urbs, meaning city. The first recorded usage of this word in English was in 1380 by John Wycliffe. Wycliffe is well known for being a professor at the University of Oxford and a philosopher, as well as for the advocation for the translation of the bible into vernacular, now known as the Wycliffe Bible.