Penn Badgley Calls Out Fans and "The Jeffrey Dahmer Story" For Romanticizing Serial Killers

Penn Badgley knows his "You" character, Joe Goldberg, tends to charm fans, but he's having trouble accepting the love that other violent antiheroes receive, too. When asked how he feels about people who are attracted to serial killers in an interview with "Entertainment Tonight," Badgley said, "You need to look at that, inside."

The actor went on to admit that he's begun to understand why fans sometimes have complicated feelings for Joe, noting, "To be fair, with our show, you're meant to fall in love with [Joe]." He also addressed Netflix for its role in making killers appealing, specifically referencing the streamer's recent limited series "Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story." "That's on us," Badgley said, adding, "Ted Bundy? That's on you. Jeffrey Dahmer? That is on — Netflix. That is squarely on the shoulders of Netflix."

"Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story" starred Evan Peters as the titular serial killer — whose performance netted him a Golden Globe Award — and quickly became one of Netflix's biggest hits, but it also garnered criticism for romanticizing the horrific killer at the center of its narrative — and creeping out many fans who found themselves strangely attracted to him. Before that, Zac Efron's portrayal of Bundy — the notorious killer who confessed to the murders of 36 women — in 2019's "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile" garnered similarly polarizing reactions.

Violence and serial killer romanticization aren't the only things Badgley has bluntly called out Netflix for. Earlier in the week, the "Gossip Girl" alum revealed that he'd requested an end to intimate scenes for Joe. He also said some of Joe's particularly bloody scenes were difficult to film and made him nauseous.

Badgley has spoken out many times in protest of fans' affection for his "You" character. Early on in "You'"s run, he began responding to users who posted thirsty tweets about Joe on Twitter. Even then, though, he recognized Joe as someone who reflects certain aspects of society that aren't exactly pleasant to look at.

"I think what he's meant to be is an embodiment and a portrait of the parts of us that can't escape rooting for Joe," he told The New York Times in 2019. "In a more just society, we would all see Joe as problematic and not be interested in the show, but that's not the society we live in."

Badgley also noted the privilege that allows Joe and characters like him to appear sympathetic. "To me, Joe is this work in progress in dismantling and dissecting the myriad privileges that a young, attractive, white man carries with him," he added. "I'm not suggesting that the rest of the world shouldn't have these so-called privileges. But I think when only one group has them, it's actually a horrific blindness when it comes to being in touch with humanity."

The first half of "You" season four is now streaming on Netflix. Watch a clip from Badgley's "ET" interview below.