Television

Netflix’s New No. 1 Show Found Something Worse Than Serial Killers

You’s Sherry and Cary give Joe and Love a run for their money.

A Black woman and a white man sit at a table smiling
The mommy blogger and the injaculator. John P. Fleenor/Netflix

This article contains spoilers for the third season of You.

We first meet Sherry Conrad (Shalita Grant), the breakout star of Season 3 of You, in a banal upper-class coffee shop. Dressed in a white jacket and a soft matching dress, Sherry spins around as soon as she hears Henry Quinn-Goldberg’s cries. And her eyes light up once she realizes the baby she’s swooped in to mother belongs to Love, the new girl in town—whom Sherry can’t wait to bully.

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Sherry is the best half of Love and Joe’s new neighbors, the Conrads. She’s the “momfluencer” behind Heart-Shaped Mistakes, a parenting blog Joe describes as “humble-bragging and superiority” masquerading as “hard-earned wisdom.” Cary (Travis Van Winkle), her husband, is the hypermasculine founder of a supplement company, avid “biohacker,” and a proponent of “injaculating,” which is like ejaculating but it doesn’t deplete your focus.

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The couple is a darkly funny parody of the fit, beautiful, wealthy Instagram couples whose existence makes you feel like shit. It would be unfair to paint them as more unbearable than anyone else in Madre Linda, the fictional San Francisco suburb where this season takes place. But the Conrads, and their relationship with the Quinn-Goldbergs, are the season’s greatest embodiment and indictment of wellness culture.

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Their health-oriented hypocrisy peppers the season. When the Quinn-Goldbergs arrive for a party at the Conrads’ home, Joe mentions that Sherry had to post an apology video after throwing a massive party in the middle of the pandemic—even though the Conrads and their friends got early access to a vaccine originally made for the queen of England. After walking past a guest talking about how they microdose ketamine, Joe finally meets Cary, who speaks primarily in abbreviations. “It’s all paleo—well, keto, really,” says Cary in his first line of the series. “I find when I I.F. I’m good on any amount of fats.”

Sherry, the archetype of an Instagram wellness influencer, wields insincere self-deprecation like a sword. She knows how to get under your skin and stay there, incessantly handing out advice you didn’t ask for because she gets it. She’s been there, so she obviously harbors the advice needed to fix your mess of a life. And you—well, you clearly need her tutelage. In a particularly cutting sequence, Sherry and her minions shade Love for having a hard time in a fitness class post-baby. When Love mentions that it seems like everyone is calling her fat, Sherry gaslights her before suggesting that beauty doesn’t even have a size.

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Embarrassing the people around them keeps the Conrads aspirational. And the Quinn-Goldbergs’ violent reactions to those petty humiliations—like when Love says Sherry is lucky she doesn’t stab her in the eye—are how the show argues that the world of wellness is a vapid and soulless capitalist gimmick that preys on people’s unhappiness. Still, the ruse manages to lure people who know it’s fake into the façade in real life and throughout the season.

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Love still goes to get coffee with Sherry after she makes those rude, underhanded comments about her body and, eventually, they become close friends. When Joe goes into the woods with Cary and the boys, he’s pushed to embrace the violence within him. Cary bullies Joe into pushing him off a cliff. Then Cary plays dead and terrifies everyone in the group, before resurrecting himself like the god he sees himself to be. Even though Cary’s antics put Joe in a precarious situation, he breaks down and feels accepted into the fold anyway. And while she’s in the cage, and in between color-coding her emotions with Cary, Sherry all but gives Love the boost she needs to attempt to kill Joe.

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That’s what wellness influencers do. They use their clout to make you feel empowered, and it works, because who doesn’t want to feel accepted by the powerful? But wellness in the age of social media isn’t about health or well-being. It’s about control. Sherry admits as much after Love and Joe have locked her and Cary in the cage. Her “influencer bullshit,” she says to Love, is how she protects her family and stays in control—as Cary does a meditative practice in the background.

Love and Joe remain the show’s real villains, but this season suggests that their bloodthirstiness isn’t so different from the smug self-aggrandizing the Conrads’ empire is built on. Both couples share, and bond over, an impulse to manipulate and strip others of their power. The only difference is, while the Quinn-Goldbergs are willing to murder for it, the Conrads simply bludgeon your self-esteem to death.

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