Penn Badgley Returns to the Small Screen to Star in Gossip Girl’s Darker Alter-Ego You

Dan Humphrey, but stalker-er.

Larry Busacca

It’s been five years since adorable puppy Dan Humphrey revealed himself to actually be something of a cyber stalker at the conclusion of Gossip Girl, and the original Lonely Boy is finally coming back to the small screen. Penn Badgley has been announced as the star of a new Lifetime series entitled You, which, as many have already pointed out, sounds suspiciously like Gossip Girl itself.

Entertainment Weekly described the series, which is based on the Caroline Kepnes novel of the same name, as “a 21st-century love story about an obsessive, yet brilliant bookstore manager named Joe Goldberg”—played by Badgley, naturally, the Hollywood avatar for the Guy in Your MFA—“who uses the hyper-connectivity of today’s technology to make the woman of his dreams, an aspiring writer named Beck fall in love with him.” It’s not quite Gossip Girl—it’s an even darker, more alarming take on how a person can virtually manipulate, and transform, themselves. The Aubrey Plaza-Elizabeth Olsen film Ingrid Goes West presents a similar parable about how social media can enhance individuals’ worst natures—a narrative that Gossip Girl only presaged. Blogging seems relatively harmless by comparison.

Since Gossip Girl wrapped five years ago, Badgley has retreated from screen work, but he did appear in Adam Green’s drug-fueled Aladdin alongside Natasha Lyonne and Macaulay Culkin last year. In the meantime, he’s also nurtured his music career as the frontman of Mothxr, and he married doula-slash-musician Domino Kirke—and then married her again. Clearly, he hasn’t abandoned acting entirely, but it takes a very specific role to entice him back to the screen.

The object of Badgley’s character’s affections hasn’t yet been cast. Blake Lively, presumably, is not available, too busy contending with Charlize Theron’s already-strong bid to be the next James Bond and dealing with her not-perfect life, but there’s certainly an alternate universe in which the short-lived Blair-Dan pairing really did work out. Paging Leighton Meester?

Chris Hemsworth would be down with Charlize Theron as the next James Bond: