Actor Penn Badgley seen leaving the Build studios in NYC

'YOU' Star Penn Badgley Calls Out Netflix For Likability Portrayal Of 'Jeffrey Dahmer'

Home / News / 'YOU' Star Penn Badgley Calls Out Netflix For Likability Portrayal Of 'Jeffrey Dahmer'

By Afouda Bamidele on February 15, 2023 at 12:30 PM EST

Penn Badgley is speaking out on specific Netflix choices!

Since releasing "Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story" in September 2022, Netflix has been widely criticized for the likability and empathy that the series' lead character, Evan Peters, accrued for the real-life serial killer. Now, Badgley, the notable lead of the streaming platform's hit series, "You," has added his voice to the Dahmer discourse, calling them out for the role they played in people liking the killer. 

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Penn Badgley Blames Netflix For The Goodwill That Jeffrey Dahmer Enjoys These Days

For as long as one can remember, Badgley has vocally discouraged viewers and fans of "You" from having a crush on his character, Joe Goldberg. However, that has done nothing to deter them, once again stealing their hearts with his performance in the first part of the psychological thriller's fourth season, which dropped last Thursday.

The actor addressed the likability of serial killers again during an appearance on Entertainment Tonight when the interviewer asked, "What is your message to people who are finding themselves attracted to serial killers?"

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Penn Badgley at Build Series
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Badgley began his response by asking those people to "look inside" before continuing and saying, "Now, to be fair, with our show, you're meant to fall in love with him [Joe]. That's on us. Ted Bundy, that's on you. Jeffrey Dahmer, that is on y—  That is on Netflix. That is squarely on the shoulders of Netflix."

Addressing why some people are drawn to killers, the Baltimore-born star said, "I don't have answers at this point. I do, but they're long. Yeah, it's weird, man." The "Gossip Girl" alum's honesty and accountability won the admiration of fans, with one writing in the comment section:

"Penn shading his bosses at Netflix AS HE SHOULD for putting dahmer out there. Like Joe is MADE UP. Bundy and Dahmer aren't."

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"boy being shady about the dahmer netflix series," another commented, and a third admitted, "Not attracted to Joe but I always justify every crazy thing he does." A fourth person chimed, "no the fact he works for netflix and still shaded them for the dahmer series hes so real."

Badgley's latest dedication to separating the act from the art comes months after Netflix defended itself against criticism of "Dahmer." Per The Blast, the show's co-creator Ian Brenner shared his thoughts about the complexities of the killer during "The Watcher" premiere, where he stated:

"I think we show a human being. He's monstrously human, and he's monstrously monstrous, and that's what we wanted to sort of unpack. We tried to show an objective portrait as possible. We did our homework."

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'YOU' Star Penn Badgley Calls Out Netflix For Likability Portrayal Of 'Jeffrey Dahmer'
Instagram | Penn Badgley

In case you missed it, the infamous serial killer brutally murdered seventeen young men and boys between 1978 and 1991. Most of the killings involved necrophilia — sexual intercourse with the corpses,  cannibalism, and storing body parts. Dahmer's killing spree ended in 1994, at age 34, after he was beaten to death while serving sixteen life sentences.

Netflix's portrayal of his life — from childhood to death — amounted to great numbers, becoming its second most popular show ever.

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The Independent Spirit Award Winner Wants Less On-Screen Sex To Protect His Marriage

Badgley proved his dedication to making his marriage work when he divulged that he had asked for fewer sex scenes on "You." The Blast reported that the actor told listeners that he made the decision during the filming of the show's latest season.

As for his reason, the 36-year-old explained that the request was borne out of a need to remain committed to his wife, singer Domino Kirke, whom he married in 2017. Although he claimed that he had never shared it publicly before, Badgley admitted that he held that view even before joining the show.

"One of the main things was, do I want to put myself back on a career path where I'm always playing the romantic lead? Fidelity in every relationship, including my marriage, is important to me. It's got to the point where I don't want to do that," the "Easy A" star said about the impact of his Hollywood career on his union.

The six-time Teen Choice Award nominee began dating Kirke in 2014, eventually marrying her in a New York courthouse in February 2017. He subsequently became the stepfather of his wife's son from a previous relationship before the couple welcomed their baby boy in August 2020.

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