Penn Badgley isn’t cool with Netflix’s romanticized portrayals of infamous serial killers — even if he plays one. The 36-year-old actor, who plays fictional murderer Joe Goldberg in You, acknowledged the audience’s growing fascination with serial killers. In recent years on the streaming platform, several notorious, real-life serial killers have been portrayed in TV shows and movies. Badgley singled out the most notable: Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer.
Though he never mentions the projects by name, Badgely told Entertainment Tonight that those who admit to being attracted to problematic men “need to look at that, inside. Now, to be fair, with our show, you’re meant to fall in love with him. That’s on us.”
But when it comes to real-life killers being portrayed in a more glorified light, Badgley has far less sympathy for those who romanticize them. “Ted Bundy? That’s on you! Jeffrey Dahmer? That is on you — that is on Netflix,” he said. “That is squarely on the shoulders of Netflix.”
“I don’t have answers at this point,” Badgley said of the killer crushes. “I do, but they’re long and… yeah, it’s weird, man.”
Back in 2019, Badgely shared his reaction to fans’ finding his character “attractive” after the first season. “We, as the creators of the show, and me, as the actor, certainly want to take responsibility for him being likable in the way that he is,” he acknowledged at the time. “I don’t want to just say that it’s problematic and that the viewers themselves have a problematic reaction, I think what’s inspiring about it is that at a time when we’re striving for the empowerment of women and for the equality of men and women, that we are also simultaneously able to be transfixed and charmed by a character like Joe. It speaks to how deeply ingrained a lot of these standards and norms are where we love to see a guy behaving like him. In a way, Joe is a great cultural touchpoint to say, ‘We still have a lot of work to do.’”
The first half of You‘s fourth season is streaming now on Netflix; the remaining episodes will drop on March 9. Part 2’s trailer was just released today, watch below: