TV

Sherry Conrad Is The MVP Of ‘You’ Season Three, Hands Down

Of the friend-group viewing party I assembled for You’s third season, only one brave soul admitted to liking Sherry Conrad (Shalita Grant) when she first popped up on-screen.

Sure, this was a show about a white man who enjoyed obsessively stalking women before (normally) murdering them when they discovered what a complete psychopath he was, but somehow, when You’s third season dropped on Netflix last week, it wasn’t Penn Badgley’s crazed peepers or Victoria Pedretti’s impulsive bloodlust that rubbed me the wrong way. It was Sherry Conrad. I didn’t see what my friend — practically a bonafide prophet in the group chat now — saw in the woman who claimed to have invented momfluencing and crafted an entire personality around having twins.

Of all the serial killers and homicidal maniacs and drug-addled ego-centric villains, Sherry Conrad’s vapidness and sense of entitlement seemed like the worst sin. That’s what the show intended, and that’s why, after a full season of both of its main characters descending to new deranged lows, Sherry Conrad somehow emerged as the MVP of this story.

When we first meet Sherry she’s positioned as the resident Queen Bee of Madre Linda, an upper-class neighborhood filled with tech bros and mommy bloggers who exist in a productivity-obsessed vacuum. These people don’t consume sugar, they make an Olympic sport out of intermittent fasting, and they utter truly absurd phrases without a hint of irony. (What do you say to a man who tells you they’re “sourcing a french bulldog”? Someone, please tell me!)

Aside from her husband Cary (Travis Van Winkle), Sherry was the most grievous offender. While Cary was a biohacking himbo preoccupied with his testosterone levels, Sherry’s influence on the rest of Madre Linda’s brainless cohort of juice-happy Stepford Wives was more insidious. She could tank Love’s new bakery simply by not purchasing a scone. She could ostracize community members with a few bits of idle gossip in her home’s commercial kitchen. She peer-pressured women to orgasm in the name of better breast milk, fed into Missing White Woman syndrome with tacky hashtags, launched a smear campaign against raspberries. Truly, it seemed her tyranny knew no bounds.

It wasn’t until the show’s final episodes, when a swinger’s initiation night went wrong and both Cary and Sherry found themselves trapped in the Quinn-Goldberg’s humidity-controlled human enclosure, that we met the real Sherry Conrad. Was she still an image-obsessed housewife who wrote “Our hearts are global but our physical selves reside in Northern California” in the About Me section of her blog? Of course. Was the rumor that she had secured a top-secret COVID vaccine for the entire neighborhood worrisome? Absolutely. Did her husband’s masturbatory use of the virtual reality pod in their garage still make our skin crawl? Umm… yeah. But there was more to Sherry Conrad than just Soul Cycle memberships and W.O.M.B. retreats.

In fact, in a clever bit of storytelling, the issues that Love — a white woman of privilege — was facing directly paralleled her obnoxious frenemy. If You’s third season was meant to explore the non-fulfillment and resentment that follows the “happily ever after” sign-off of every fantasy romance fed to young women looking for their “soulmate,” Sherry was the case study of how a wife and mother can subvert that trope. Love was drowning in her post-marital depression. Her suburban malaise was made worse by her husband’s infidelities and her own borderline bipolar episodes of impulsiveness, but at the heart of her troubles was this clawing notion that there should be something “more” to life than romantic stability and maternal bliss. She wanted purpose and a deeper connection with her life partner — not the surface-level bullsh*t she’d once thought idyllic. She dealt with the absence of those things in increasingly, shall we say “problematic” ways. She prematurely self-destructed before waiting for time and the wear-and-tear of life to do that for her in a decade or so.

By contrast, Sherry Conrad had already weathered the storm that Love was getting pummeled by. She alluded to that during the women’s retreat, after Love made it clear she was unhappy in her current situation, explaining to her friend how she “chose” Cary as her life partner despite not even liking him at times. She lectured about work and commitment and showing up for yourself as much as for your husband. And as viewers, we simply brushed it off as another superficial, self-important lecture from a woman who seemingly thrived on telling other women how they were doing the modern mother model wrong.

And when we discovered that the “secret” to Sherry and Cary’s harmonious relationship was their unconventional lifestyle, we dismissed and reduced this facet of their marriage in the same way that Joe Goldberg did. We nodded our heads as he delivered pretentious voiceovers that described “the lifestyle” as the dying gasps of a failed marriage. We cringed as we watched both Love and Joe contort themselves to this mold to try to save their own doomed romance. But the problem here was never with Cary and Sherry — a couple so experienced and in-tune with each other that a simple glance after an awkward singer’s meet-and-greet conveyed their mutual unease with inviting this murderous duo into their bed.

Still, perhaps the greatest apology we owe the Conrads, and Sherry, in particular, is for how we whittled her down to a stereotype without offering her the same grace and understanding we gave to the people actually doing murder on this show. Even if Sherry Conrad had turned out to be just another hollow shell masquerading as a doting mother, adoring wife, and concerned community member, that still would’ve been revolutionary. After all, how many women of color are portrayed as the villainous Queen Bees on TV, especially in the context of an upper-class neighborhood filled with Silicon Valley execs who brag about microdosing ketamine with the same openness that your hippie aunt would talk about the power of essential oils?

But Sherry was never so one-dimensional, and as she tries to manipulate Love to ensure her own survival before finally exposing her real motivations for her most troublesome behavior, we see that. Sherry, like Love, and like anyone hoping to somehow exist in a world shaped by social-media-fueled perception, just wanted to exert an iota of control over her own life. She wanted to write her own narrative. She wanted to make her marriage last. She wanted to find something for herself in an environment that constantly fortified this harmful idea that women, mothers especially, should exist for everyone but.

And now look at her. She’s the hottest one-eared b*tch in Madre Linda, and she’s hosting Ted Talks, squeezing every ounce of exposure and profit she can from a truly traumatizing experience at the hands of her more conventionally “relatable” murderous neighbors.

Good for you, Sherry Conrad.

‘You’s third season is currently streaming on Netflix.

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