Penn Badgley Is ‘Really Troubled’ By His ‘You’ Stalker’s Popularity And Mocked His Growing Instagram Following


You scored well with critics but went largely unnoticed last fall on Lifetime, only to emerge as a killer of a hit (sorry, not sorry) on Netflix over the holidays. Netflix, which has been unusually vocal about its numbers lately, claims that the stalker-focused story will soon reach 40 million viewers, and indeed, it’s a highly addictive binge watch full of dark humor and the skewing of tropes. Penn Badgley, who plays the sociopathic center of the series, has already been pushing back at fans who have begged him to stalk his way into their pants, and he elaborated further to E! Online about why he’s feeling torn about his sudden reemergence, several years after Gossip Girl ended.

Of course, it’s not lost on Badgley (at all) that You‘s Joe is “just Dan with a knife,” which references how that character was revealed to be “Gossip Girl” at the end of the teen soap opera’s six-year run. He further believes that You — in the sense that viewers are now crushing on a serial killer — is something of a “litmus test” to show how people will bend over backwards to perform “mental gymnastics” feats “on a cultural level, to love an evil white man.” Badgley further elaborated on why he’s wrestling with the adoration:

“I personally was troubled … I understood the appeal, but I was really ambivalent. I was really troubled, and that was also what [executive producers Greg Berlanti and Sera Gamble] said was appropriate about me playing him. I remain ambivalent. I’m really questioning why people like Joe so much. … ‘Yeah, but he loves her, but he’s sweet, but it’s a love story!’ In what world?! I don’t believe that’s love. I don’t think that love equals this, so I think we have to question, what is love, and if we think this is love, where are we mistaken?”

Badgley appears to still be grateful for his resurgence as an actor (though he admitted that he didn’t really enjoy attending fashion parties as part of Gossip Girl duties), but he’s clearly wrestling with why people are embracing Joe. Part of that likely has to do with the source material, since You‘s first season is a very pure adaptation of Caroline Kepnes’ novel that achieves a tongue-in-cheek tone. The book and the series are also very seductive while weaving genres in a satiric way, that’s why the story’s so addictive, although it’s sparked criticism against some of its most high-profile fans.

You will soon film a second season that will go straight to Netflix, so Badgley’s stalker-as-protagonist will receive plenty of chances to ruin other people’s lives. On that note, Badgley recently mocked his seemingly overnight Instagram success. In the below video, he parodied “thank you” videos while fake crying, “I wake up to find, I’d never thought I’d see the day, but I wake up to find I have a million followers.” Then came the kicker: “I don’t know what to say because all it took was for me to start murdering people. Y’all, get the f*ck out of here!”

Well played, Lonely Boy.

(Via E! Online)