'You' Star Penn Badgley Calls out Netflix for Glamorizing Serial Killers

Penn Badgley plays a fictional serial killer on the Netflix original series You, and he has given some deep consideration to how murderers should be portrayed on TV. The 36-year-old actor spoke about his role in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, comparing it to the recent controversial portrayal of Jeffrey Dahmer. Badgley bluntly acknowledged that this trend is problematic, and he believes the party responsible is Netflix itself.

For years now critics have questioned the growing popularity of true crime and thrillers, wondering why audiences are so captivated by serial killers and their motives. In the case of Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, many critics felt that the show "sensationalized" Dahmer's killing spree past the point of artful representation and into the realm of voyeurism. Badgley's character on You has been criticized as well, but Badgley said that viewers are supposed to be attracted to Joe Goldberg, in a way. However, if they're developing crushes on real-life murderers, they should take the opportunity to question why.


Penn Badgley has a message for those of you who are a little TOO obsessed with Joe Goldberg and serial kworders 💀 #younetflix #pennbadgley #joegoldberg

♬ original sound – Entertainment Tonight

"You need to look at that inside," he said, pointing at his own heart. "To be fair, with our show, you're meant to fall in love with [Joe]. That's on us. Ted Bundy? That's on you. Jeffrey Dahmer? That is on – Netflix. That is squarely on the shoulders of Netflix."

Presumably, Badgley was referencing the Netflix original film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, where Zac Efron played Bundy. Either way, the actor clearly has some thoughts on the genre as a whole. He said that he has given "long" thoughts to this phenomenon, but he can only sum it up as "weird."

For many fans, the strangest part of this quote was that Badgley so openly and frankly criticized Netflix, the home of his lauded series. However, You actually premiered on Lifetime in 2018, an adaptation of Caroline Kepnes' novel by the same name. Netflix rescued the series when it was canceled after one season, and Seasons 2 and 3 adapted Kepnes' two sequel novels.

Season 4, which premiered last week, was the first to feature completely new material not based on the books. The show follows Joe Goldberg as he re-enacts a pattern of violence and abuse in his ostensible quest for love and normalcy. He moves cities, changes careers, and even changes his name in order to escape his past and pursue his desires.

Five new episodes of You are streaming now on Netflix, with five more to come on March 9, 2023. So far, Netflix has not publicly responded to Badgley's criticism.