Penn Badgley on ‘You’: Everybody on the show except Joe deserves better

Mild spoilers for You
Over the weekend I binged You on Netflix. (I talked about the show on our podcast!) It’s a ten episode series about the adventures of a stalker, Joe, played by Penn Badgley, and it actually premiered on Lifetime last fall. It’s done much better on demand on Netflix, where it doesn’t come with the baggage of being labeled a Lifetime show. It’s one of the craziest shows I’ve ever seen. It has so many twists and turns, and it’s so trashy and absorbing. I disliked the characters and didn’t care about them, but I kept wanting to know what would happen next. It does a good job of telling the story from Joe’s point of view and making you root for him. Penn Badgley is not here for that though, and has shut down talk of his character being a romantic antihero. The show has shades of Dexter but there are moments when it feels like a romcom and there are moments when it’s a typical Lifetime movie. (I saw a good opinion piece on how it works to mix and subvert genres, but beware that the article has a major spoiler in it. You can read that here.) In an interview which Penn did with his costar, Shay Mitchell, he said that every character except his character, Joe, deserves better.

Here’s the video and some quotes are below:

Why do you think fans are so obsessed with Joe?
Penn: Sex and murder

People are saying that Peach deserves better
Shay: I would have liked to have seen her last a little longer
Penn: Peach does deserve better. Everybody on the show except Joe deserves better. Joe deserves worse.
Shay: Do you think Peach could have gotten to that level of even more obsession [with Beck, where Joe is]
Penn: Theoretically but I think statistically speaking most murderers and most serials killers, they’re men. Maybe she could have been one of the exceptions to the rule, she is exceptional. She’s not general [in her obsession]. Peach loves Beck. She’s not just like ‘I’m going to do this to anybody.’

Why are [your characters] so obsessed with Beck?
Penn: It’s hard to know what Joe likes about Beck because he’s so self obsessed… He’s an unreliable narrator.

[From video by]

I loved Penn’s answer that most murderers and serial killers are men! He gets it and he keeps showing that in the way he talks about his character.

No one deserves to die but I didn’t particularly care if anyone died, except for Paco or Karen. They were the only decent people apart from maybe Joe’s coworker or Beck’s remaining friends. It’s rare that a show has such unlikable characters but still makes you watch. On Twitter I compared it to eating an entire pint of ice cream that’s not your favorite. It tastes good and you enjoyed it but you feel a little mad at yourself afterwards. You’ll do it again, but you don’t want to admit it.

There’s a second season coming to Netflix! It will come out this Christmas and will be set in Los Angeles. Penn said that his character Joe “is still a murderer, still stalking” and “still problematic.” He will also “try to change, and he might but also for the worst.” Also Netflix released some statistics in their quarterly earnings statement and You was watched by 40 million households.

As an aside, who else googled “does urine have DNA” when they were watching this? The answer is that it usually doesn’t. Damnit I’m rooting for Joe.





Production stills courtesy Netflix press

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35 Responses to “Penn Badgley on ‘You’: Everybody on the show except Joe deserves better”

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  1. LORENA says:

    I binged it as well and at first I found myself rooting for Joe and wanting him to be good and man was I wrong. Still I really enjoyed the show and I will def watch the 2nd season. I would say all the characters for sure have issues and a bit of creepiness. I mean Beck was pretty messy herself. My favorite was no doubt the book store clerk and his romance with Beck’s friend made me chuckle a bit. I also wish that Peach lasted a little longer tho

    • Anners says:

      I think it’s interesting that I didn’t really like anyone (in the books, either), but I still kept watching (reading) with bated breath to see if he’d be caught. And I didn’t want him to be. AND HE’S AWFUL!!!! But they’re all awful. (shrug). I like the ice cream analogy – that’s exactly how it feels. I’m excited for series 2 – hope it sticks to the 2nd book.

      • LORENA says:

        Now I want to read the books

      • HelloSunshine says:

        This is one of the only shows I’ve stuck with where the characters are mostly awful and I don’t like them lol Joe is sooo creepy but I think the show wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t PB playing him. He’s honestly perfect for the role and plays it so well. Even my husband couldn’t stop watching and he’s way pickier about TV than I am lol
        I didn’t know the show was based on books and now I know what I’ll be grabbing at the library before the snow hits!

    • Onemoretime says:

      I didn’t feel sorry for Beck because she got out alive and went right back to Joe. She was so extra, annoying and boring! I fell over when Joe accused Peach of being a stalker ( pot meet kettle)
      I’m happy Karen got out she deserved better. I also fell over when Paco closed the door on Beck; yes it was wrong but since Joe got rid of his mothers absuive boyfriend he felt like he owed him?
      Everyone was awful but Karen and Joes coworker.

  2. elimaeby says:

    I spent the first half of the season feeling guilty for liking the show because I thought I remembered Penn having some kind of abuse or assault accusations back in the day. Imagine my relief when I googled it and found out it was his former co-star Ed Westwick I was thinking of. The only weird thing I would find on Badgley was his woo-woo religion. My crush may live on!

  3. Lolly says:

    I hated Beck but she deserved more at the end. I was rooting for her in that last episode, which shocked me.

    I will make sure I always have curtains now though.

    • Alissa says:


      I was yelling at her through most of the final episode! Between not grabbing the keys initially and not hitting multiple times with the mallet, I couldn’t believe it. Has she never seen a horror movie!?

    • Bettyrose says:

      Run Beck Run! Oh, not gonna run? Don’t have the fight or flight instinct of every other mammal on earth? Ugh. What did I just watch?

  4. Red Snapper says:

    Not gonna watch; loved the book.

    • Milla says:

      I liked the book and the show. Penn is actually really good creep. It is not a case of tv show butchering the book.

      I love how all characters are not likeable of course Joe is a proper nightmare.

    • Usedtobe says:

      I’m with you @Red Snapper. Loved You and Hidden Bodies both.
      I have a friend who also did and she watches a lot of TV so I asked last week if she’d watched it and she said not to bother. I’ll take her advice.

  5. Alissa says:

    I couldn’t stand any of the characters except for the bookstore clerk and Karen. Paco was cute in the beginning but became awful. I couldn’t figure out what it was about Beck that made everyone so obsessed with her, which was frustrating. Peach was at least smart, even when she was a terrible person.

    I definitely didn’t root for Joe at all. He actually reminded me of an ex for most of the first episode which was a little disturbing haha. I was intrigued and am looking forward to the next season even though I disliked basically everyone on the show. I thought Penn Badgley did a really good job! And his comments about Joe since have made me like him as a person, too, although I don’t know much about him.

    • Parigo says:

      Yea, Beck didn’t seem to have that “x factor” everyone thought she did. The whole time I couldn’t understand why Shay Mitchell wasn’t playing Beck. She’s gorgeous and so much more well known than the other actress.

      But the ice-cream analogy is perfect. You isn’t a great series but it’s SO. EASY. TO. WATCH. I’m looking forward to season 2 and seeing what Netflix does with it now that it’s a hit and they have full creative license.

      And Penn gets it. He knows there’s nothing charming about a stalker/killer. He seems pretty woke.

      • Alissa says:

        I actually thought at one point myself that I would understand more if Shay Mitchell was playing Beck.

        She just seemed like the most basic and boring person. And she was supposed to be this amazing writer, but everything that we heard that she wrote seemed…not great.

      • Milla says:

        Becks wasn’t Serena van der woondsen or whatever she was called in gossip girl. Becks is any girl. That’s how i saw it. Cute and superficial girl, you don’t have to like her, but you cannot say she deserves Joe. Yes , the annoying girls get stalked. Bland boring girls get stalked. Girls who are not that pretty get stalked. It is important to understand that victims are far from perfect which is why I liked the show overall.

      • Parigo says:

        True, much of her specialness is just Joe projecting his fantasies. But I’m sure Shay could have played that kind of girl too.

  6. broodytrudy says:

    We watched the first two episodes last night and i just hate everybody but Paco and only half hate Joe. I have enjoyed it, but i don’t think i can last through a whole season. Especially with how much i dislike Beck already.

    Side note: the actress that plays Beck looks eerily like Evan Rachel Wood to me and that throws me off every time i see her.

  7. Courtney says:

    Did anyone else laugh out loud when he was sneaking around inside Peach’s family estate? I never liked him as much as in that scene. 😆

  8. Kimma1216 says:

    I never watch shows like this, but I was totally hooked and binge watched this on a work flight to the Middle East and it was the only thing that kept me going on the flight!! It was super cheesy and trashy and beck drove me up a wall with her whiney voice but I just could not stop watching! I can’t wait for season 2!!!!

  9. Michelle says:

    I read the book and watched it pretty much at the same time and it stayed pretty true to the book. Now I am on her second book Hidden bodies, so I am anxious to see where Joe ends up.

  10. Jennifer says:

    I really liked the show too. Why was Joe obsessed with Beck? Because he is a psychopath and Beck was an attractive woman that gave him a little attention when they crossed paths, then he built her into his fantasy dream girl in his head. Beck in real life would never measure up to his fantasy of Beck. Joe will continue to superimpose his fantasy girl personal onto any woman he gets “involved” with, IMO. Shay was in the closet and fell for her best friend, and because she couldn’t express her feelings openly I suppose they warped into an unhealthy obsession. I like that they show that Joe seemed like the perfect guy, but behind his nice guy act was a monster. Although it’s sad that some don’t accept the “monster” part of the narrative, they just think Joe is perfect. And if you think about it, it kind of highlights the same kind of emotions behind the question “why did she fall for an abuser/why doesn’t she leave?” The charisma and charm masks the abuse.

  11. Desolee says:

    Spoiler for this show and gossip girl

    “I loved Penn’s answer that most murderers and serial killers are men!”
    Low bar! Lol come on please tell me we all know this.
    Loved this series. Penn is a great actor. Randomly saw shay in a horror movie last month and considering I don’t love horror she’s quite watchable. She’s probably the best actor from PLL too.
    Theres a mashup of it with gossip girl on yt or somewhere..
    As someone else said online, this is what lonely boy would have done if Serena had said no haha he’s perfect for the role.
    Nice scenery and great (interesting) characters. I enjoyed the benji storyline

  12. FF says:

    I loved the books when I read them, and I’m halfway through S1 for that reason but why are you rooting for Joe?

  13. Winnie Cooper's Mom says:

    Really got into this show when it was airing on Lifetime. I texted a few girlfriends (who were big Gossip Girl fans) that they needed to watch it, and also ended up getting into it.

    As a side note, I felt like John Stamos’ character was forced and not really necessary to the plot. Joe could get irrationally jealous over anyone in Beck’s life, I didn’t feel like Stamos fit well w the rest of the plot, just IMO. Ready for season 2!

  14. Lucy says:

    I love Penn! If anything, I’m glad he’s working. Both him and Leighton Meester were the best actors in GG, just my opinion.

  15. Faye G says:


    Beck is an awful person and I’m glad she died. Not only was her writing cliched but she was a total hypocrite and completely self-absorbed.
    Now Peach I liked, she was smart and knew what was going on.
    I’ll watch season 2, I’m rooting for Joe even though he’s a creepy murderer haha. I don’t usually watch this kind of show but it sucked me right in.

  16. bobafelty says:

    This show reminded me of HBO’s Girls, except one of the spoiled girls is dating a psycho killer. While you don’t want to root for the killer, you actively dislike the female characters….so it’s kind of fun to see who makes it out alive? Like how can I choose between the Lena Dunham type character or the crazy killer? Plus, the narration really keeps it in the dark comedy genre, and was much funnier than I expected.

  17. Renee says:

    I loved the book series and have read it a couple of times. I’m not sure why they added the character of Paco to the TV show, other than to make Joe more likeable. Paco doesn’t exist in the book. I didn’t love the TV show, but the book was great. I can’t wait to see what they do with season 2, which should be based on the book sequel “Hidden Bodies”.

  18. lucy2 says:

    I only read the first book, and really disliked it – too creepy. I’m guessing I wouldn’t care for the show then either?

  19. Jensays says:

    Totally googled if pee contained traces of a persons DNA. This book and show are a major guilty pleasure of mine – like a car crash and I can’t look away (potential spoiler) ……

    . That twist at the end (the person who popped up at th book store) still has me spinning.

  20. ans says:

    URINE DOESN’T HAVE DNA??? OMG they totally had me with that then.

  21. VioletOrNo? says:

    I’m rooting for Joe, but I liken it to rooting for or missing a crappy ex. It’s the person you believe(d) him to be you’re rooting for, not who they really are. It doesn’t hurt that Penn is a yummy morsel, and good in this role. If he can get you to believe in Joe, he’s doing his job well.

  22. Tinkerbellrae says:

    I binge watched it today and really enjoyed it. Coming out of a situation 2017-2018 with an ex going on my social media and doing stuff it kind of weirded me out