As the public’s consciousness has changed so has TV — and a lot since the days of Gossip Girl. Penn Badgley highlighted that when he recently went on a Twitter spree, responding to fans about his latest stalker character (yes, Dan Humphrey really was a creep who did a lot of terrible things to his friends) in You.
On the series, which premiered on Lifetime before being picked up by Netflix where it currently lives, Badgley plays Joe Goldberg whose expression of love for Guinevere Beck, played by Elizabeth Lail, is 100% illegal. Badgley stalks her before dating her in the series. When one fan pointed out Badgley’s arc as an actor, writing, “The transition from Dan Humphrey — my crush- to Joe Goldberg — the guy I’m terrified of- is exceptional. How i actually believed @PennBadgley in both is scintillating,” Badgley replied, “That’s actually really interesting, thank you. Maybe part of the transition is actually you—all of us—growing up, or rather maturing in our perception of these toxic norms.”
He was more blatant about how awful his Goldberg character is, responding to one fan who wondered, “Said this already but @PennBadgley is breaking my heart once again as Joe. What is it about him? ?” with, “A: He is a murderer.”
He’s just as scared of Goldberg as the others who aren’t glamorizing the character. “The amount of people romanticizing @PennBadgley’s character in YOU scares me,” one fan wrote, to which Badgley replied, “Ditto. It will be all the motivation I need for season 2.”
On the other hand, Badgley has commended the show on its ability to present Goldberg in a way that’s more of a conversation-starter. “I don’t believe that’s love,” he said back when he was promoting the show before its debut. “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?”
In the same conversation, he called You “a bit of a social experiment.” “It’s a litmus test to see the mental gymnastics that we’re still willing to perform on a cultural level, to love an evil white man,” he said. “I’m very curious. I’m not nervous, personally, because we shot it already I suppose. I think it’ll certainly add to the conversation and it’ll create its own conversation, so I’m looking forward to the response.” His DMs, though, are another story.