Twitter Is Divided Over Penn Badgley Calling Out Netflix For Glorifying Murderers

The You star plays a serial killer on the Netflix show, causing confusion on social media.

Penn Badgley (Photo by Deadline/Penske Media via Getty Images)
Deadline/Penske Media/Getty Images

Penn Badgley is over you crushing on murderers. In a Feb. 14 interview with Entertainment Tonight, the actor called out Netflix for glorifying serial killers in their projects — despite him playing a serial killer and stalker on the Netflix series You. For him, the difference is that his character Joe Goldberg is fictional, while Ted Bundy, who was played by Zac Efron in Netflix’s 2021 film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, and Jeffery Dahmer, who Evan Peters won a Golden Globe for portraying on Dahmer -- Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, are very real serial killers with actual victims.

When Badgley was asked about the phenomenon of viewers becoming attracted to murderers thanks to these projects, he thought they needed to reflect deeply on themselves. “You need to look at that inside,” he said, before realizing what roles the shows played. “Now to be fair, with our show, you're meant to fall in love with him. That's on us,” he admitted. “But Ted Bundy? That's on you! Jeffrey Dahmer? That is on you -- that is on Netflix. That is squarely on the shoulders of Netflix. I don't have answers at this point. I do, but they're long and... yeah, it's weird, man.”

Naturally, social media had something to say about Badgley’s comments, and reactions were very divided. Many agreed with his distinction between You and Netflix’s other murder-focused projects, with a viral TikTok video and its commentators even applauding him for calling out the streamer.

However, others were simply confused by the Gossip Girl alum’s remarks, considering his Netflix role.

Dahmer creator Ryan Murphy previously defended his show, Dahmer -- Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, against accusations that it glorified the serial killer or exploited the trauma of the victims’ families. “What are the rules now? Should we never do a movie about a tyrant?” he told the New York Times in October. “I think when you make something like this, you have an obligation to history.” He also added that he wanted to make the series because “it was the biggest thing I’ve ever seen that really sort of examines how easy it is to get away with things with the white privilege aspects.”

While Badgley fully admits that You is written to make Joe at least somewhat likable, if not completely lovable, he still doesn’t completely understand why viewers crush on him so badly. In 2019, he responded to Twitter fans who expressed their infatuation with Joe and agreed with the ones who saw through him, echoing a fan who tweeted, “the amount of people romanticizing @PennBadgley’s character in YOU scares me,” and responding that it was “all the motivation I need for season 2.”

Badgley made his stance very clear in a video for Netflix to promote Season 2, calling Joe “one of the worst people ever” and asking fans to stop justifying his actions. “Don’t aspire to be like him. Don’t defend him, ever,” he said. “He doesn’t need it.”