Netflix’ hit psychological thriller, YOU Season 2 streams this December 26 and Penn Badgley, the main star of the show, talks about the complexity that is Joe Goldberg.
“I’m trying to think of a good analogy,” says Penn when asked about playing his character the second time around. “The more you live with any kind of pain, the more you’re able to endure it, right?
In a live video interview with Penn, he was in the middle of explaining why playing a grave character like Joe Goldberg was an emotional battle for him, but one he plans to take head-on for YOU Season 2. “He’s a fictional character, and he encourages a lot of thoughtful conversation and reflection for viewers because of the social commentary he seems to provide about many things. Like our portrayals of love in the media, relationships in media…The inherent biases of the stories that have been told for nearly a century now; the story of the man winning over the woman.”
The first season of YOU brought about many admirers for Penn Badgley’s character. But can you blame them? His character is built to be sweet, charismatic, and charming. Though underneath all the seemingly good qualities of Joe Goldberg is supposed to be a stalker, a mentally deranged murderer to anyone who tries to separate him and the one he loves. And despite the underlying message that Joe Goldberg is not a good person, it’s hard not to root for him just a teeny bit because the only narrative in the show is his…and for this coming season, all he wants to do is to become a better lover.
“As much as I’m conflicted in my experience of portraying him, it’s great when we’re able to talk about it like this,” Penn says, not underestimating the intelligence of his viewers.
Penn points out that what makes Joe so believable is the fact that everything that he is saying is true.
“We’re not trying to understand the mind of serial killers better,” Penn says as a disclaimer to him stating that Joe doesn’t think he’s a bad person. “I think we’re trying to understand the mind of the collective and why we like stories like this so much. You know, I don’t think this is a clinical portrayal of a real human. I think this is more like a mirror for us. So I just make him mean everything he says, that’s all I do. So when he says, I love you, he means that. When he is trying to be a good man, he is trying to be a good man.”
Before the chat with Penn, I was able to watch all the episodes of Season 2. But without giving away any spoilers (watch out for my review later in December), it’s safe to say that there’s a new dimension to Joe we’ve never seen before. Fresh from his ill-fated relationship with Guinevere Beck and the shocking revelation that his ex, Candace (Ambyr Childers) is still alive, Season 2 of YOU introduces Joe Goldberg’s new ‘Love,’ played by Victoria Pedretti—the breakout star of Haunting of The Hill House.
“Love is substantially a different character than we’ve seen in the show so far and she helps us to see a different side of Joe,” Penn says, describing the new character, Love Quinn, an aspiring chef working as a produce manager in a high-end grocery store.
“It’s a new experience because Love actually wants to be in a relationship with him. With Beck, she didn’t actually want to be in a relationship with him. Joe had to chase Beck in a way that made a lot of sense to Joe because he’s a predator. Love doesn’t make as much sense to Joe if any, because she’s not prey. She’s trying to be in a meaningful relationship with him. And actually, that continues to really destabilize Joe in new ways.”
With Joe’s desire to start over in a new city, moving from Manhattan to Los Angeles, there’s no doubt that this season will take you on a thrilling new adventure filled with blood, gore, and new characters you shouldn’t be attached to (but you still probably will.) Until then, Penn Badgley wants to warn you about this coming season…
“Much like last season where you kind of need to see the end of the whole thing to understand what we’re going for, I think similarly, it’s that way again. So I think people are going to get the fun stuff and the end will really… F them up. And then hopefully, there would be some elevated conversation about it.”
YOU Season 2 will start streaming this December 26 on Netflix.