The Lifetime-turned-Netflix show You has now been watched by over 40 million people since its debut on the streaming site in December. Besides being insanely addicting, the show has left people feeling, well, conflicted. You see, its leading man, Joe Goldberg, played by Gossip Girl alum Penn Badgley, is somehow both endearing and completely psychotic. And people are not sure how to feel.
Badgley himself has joked with fans on Twitter about how problematic it is that they're attracted to his character. I mean, duh, he's a stalker and a murderer! But now, he's finally explained to everyone that we're supposed to feel conflicted. In other words: we're not crazy after all.
When discussing his character, Badgley told Kotb and Guthrie that while Joe is "completely obsessive and compulsive," he also believes "that he's operating by the logic of a true romantic."
So, basically, in Joe's mind, this is how men are supposed to act toward women they love. He believes he's doing everything right and his intentions are good.
But by actually following the rom-com hero tropes so closely, he ends up going too far.
"What he does is he takes the tropes that we've seen in romantic comedies ... and totally subverts them by actually following them closely, and he comes to this really kind of terrifying conclusion," Badgley explained.
Check out the full clip from TODAY below and maybe it will make a bit more sense.
BTW, Badgley isn't actively seeking creepy roles (Gossip Girl, You); the roles just find him.
If you're still confused about how Joe embodies typical rom-com tropes, however, allow me to explain.
First of all, if you break down the premise of most romantic comedies, they're all basically the same: one person will stop at nothing to be with another person.
If you really stop to think about it, many fan-favorite rom-coms are actually pretty creepy. Take the classic film While You Were Sleeping, for example.
Lucy (Sandra Bullock) is a lonely metro worker who has a massive, stalker-ish crush on a commuter she's never actually met. When he has a horrible accident and falls into a coma, she pretends to be his fiancée, and his family accepts her with open arms. That's most definitely something Joe Goldberg would do in You.
Shoot, even Badgley's former Gossip Girl character, Dan Humphrey follows the same rom-com tropes with Serena Van der Woodsen (Blake Lively).
They will stop at nothing to be together, even though, technically, Dan is a creepy stalker. See a pattern?