Penn Badgley Calls Out Netflix for Glorifying Serial Killers (Exclusive)

The 'You' star criticized the streamer for romanticizing notorious killers such as Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer.

Penn Badgley isn't holding back when it comes to romanticized portrayals of infamous serial killers on Netflix -- even if he plays one.

The 36-year-old actor, who plays fictional murderer Joe Goldberg in Youacknowledged the audience's growing fascination with serial killers amid portrayals of several notorious, real-life killers in TV shows and movies in recent years on the streaming platform.

Badgley specifically singled out Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, two serial killers who were given the Netflix treatment in the 2019 Zac Efron film, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, and the 2022 Evan Peters series, Dahmer -- Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, though he never mentions the projects by name. Peters, for his part, won a Golden Globe for his performance as Jeffrey Dahmer.

"You need to look at that, inside," Badgley said when asked his thoughts on people admitting their attraction toward problematic men. "Now, to be fair, with our show you're meant to fall in love with him. That's on us."

But when it comes to real-life killers being portrayed in a more glorified light, Badgley has far less sympathy for those who feel this way.

"Ted Bundy? That's on you! Jeffrey Dahmer? That is on you -- that is on Netflix," he doubled down. "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," Badgley said of the collective fascination over serial killers. 

Badgley reacted to the likability factor of Joe Goldberg in You in a 2019 interview with ET following the series' first season amid viewers' responses to finding the character "attractive."

“We, as the creators of the show, and me, as the actor, certainly want to take responsibility for him being likable in the way that he is,” he acknowledged at the time. “I don’t want to just say that it’s problematic and that the viewers themselves have a problematic reaction, I think what’s inspiring about it is that at a time when we’re striving for the empowerment of women and for the equality of men and women, that we are also simultaneously able to be transfixed and charmed by a character like Joe. It speaks to how deeply ingrained a lot of these standards and norms are where we love to see a guy behaving like him. In a way, Joe is a great cultural touchpoint to say, ‘We still have a lot of work to do.’” 

Part 1 of You season 4 is streaming now on Netflix.