It is easy to fall in love with the psychological thriller You, especially since it just became binge-able on Netflix, but its star Penn Badgley definitely does not want fans falling in love with his character specifically. Badgley has been noticing some fans of the show tweeting about their attraction to his character of Joe Goldberg, and the actor took to Twitter to make his feelings about that clear: Penn Badgley wants You fans to stop romanticizing Joe Goldberg.
You has only been on Netflix for a couple of weeks, but fans have already devoured the show's first season and it has become the buzzy topic of conversation on social media. That is all well and good for the most part, but Penn Badgley has begun noticing some fans declaring their love for his character of Joe Goldberg, and it is not sitting well with him. And Badgley's reaction totally makes sense — it is definitely pretty unsettling that so many You fans seem willing to look past all of Joe's obvious dangerous qualities (intense stalking, hacking, emotional manipulation, kidnapping, and murder to name just a few) to post tweets about how "Joe is bae" or whatever.
To counteract these responses, Penn Badgley has begun responding to You fans who romanticized his murderous character to make it clear that nobody should be falling for a horrible dude like Joe Goldberg. Check out some of Badgley's tweets below:
Well, his thoughts on the matter definitely seem clear, and they also make a ton of sense. Although Joe Goldberg is the protagonist of You, he is by no means meant to be perceived as a hero. Quite the opposite: Joe is introduced to us as an obsessive stalker who over-idealizes a random stranger and proceeds to emotionally manipulate her into falling in love with him. And things only get worse from there once he starts murdering people who get in his way.
Part of the problem might be that Joe Goldberg lends himself easily to comparisons to Penn Badgley's most iconic character, Dan Humphrey from Gossip Girl. Both characters are book-loving Brooklynites who fixate on a beautiful blonde woman that they cannot quite attain, although Joe obviously takes that obsession to a scary extreme. Then again, a pretty strong case can be made for Dan stalking Serena van der Woodsen in a similar way to how Joe stalked Beck, plus the fact that (major Gossip Girl spoiler alert) at the end of the show, Dan is revealed to be Gossip Girl adds much more to his nefarious qualities.
But the real problem here actually seems to be how You is structured. The show forces viewers to relate to only Joe Goldberg and nobody else throughout the whole first season. Joe's inner monologue narrates the story, and even Beck is never given much backstory or interiority. Viewers who are looking for ways to forgive Joe for his various misdeeds could latch onto his own twisted explanations, not to mention the moments of legitimate kindness that poke through each episode when Joe takes care of his neighbor Paco.
Basically, You kind of makes it easy for certain fans to explain away Joe's terribleness, but as Penn Badgley is trying relay, viewers need to see Joe for the homicidal misanthropist that he is.