In 2022, serial killers were given sex appeal. TikTok was flooded with thirst traps of Evan Peters portraying sadistic killer Jeffrey Dahmer in the Netflix series Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. Meanwhile, videos set to the backing track of Britney Spears’ ‘Criminal’ became commonplace as gen Zers fanned over these so-called charming sociopaths.
Now, in 2023, our favourite fictional madman Joe Goldberg is back, and he’s shaking up the industry by putting a stop to his intimacy scenes, and calling out Netflix at the same time.
Penn Badgley has played the role of serial killer and TV heartthrob Goldberg for four seasons in the highly popular psychological thriller You. Having first hit our screens in 2018, fans have built up a loyalty to Badgley’s character—and to the actor himself.
And with season four finally out and being consumed by the entirety of the fandom, a number of netizens are taking more and more interest in the man behind the mask. Particularly after some of his most recent interviews.
Having first gained recognition for his starring role in the much-loved series of the late noughties, Gossip Girl, Badgley’s since become a fan favourite, with his sincerity and authentic personality off-screen making him a hit among young millennials and gen Zers alike. And during a recent podcast where he was discussing You, he revealed some interesting insight into what the future of his acting career may look like.
During an episode of the actor’s own podcast Podcrushed, he revealed that he had no interest in doing intimacy scenes moving forward. Badgley explained: “One of the main things is like, do I want to put myself back in a career path where I’m just always a romantic lead? Fidelity in my—in every relationship, and especially my marriage—is important to me. And yeah, it just got to a point where I don’t want to do that.”
The actor did go on to say that although he would prefer zero intimacy whatsoever while on screen, he was aware of the contract he’d signed going into the most recent season of You and so knew he couldn’t avoid it altogether.
Moreover, Badgley revealed that the show creator, Sera Gamble, was incredibly respectful and receptive to his feelings surrounding this topic and his request led to a “phenomenal reduction.”
This is an incredibly important conversation that hopefully will continue to grow and become commonplace moving forward. Intimacy coordinators are now at the bedrock of productions where these kinds of scenes take place and it’s imperative that all individuals involved feel heard and listened to.
As noted by Refinery29, shows such as Normal People and Sex Education have been applauded for their portrayal of open, honest and authentic sexual experiences. And the actors and actresses within those productions have praised intimacy coordinators for creating safe environments so that different power dynamics and scenarios can be explored cautiously and respectfully.
Of course, this respect and caution should then also be further expanded onto those who’re no longer interested in participating in that kind of content.
Badgley also had a few words to say surrounding the aforementioned sensationalism that occurred following the release of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, the actor was asked how he feels about fans who’re a little too obsessed with serial killers. His response was incredibly Dan of him if you ask me, “Now, to be fair, with our show, you’re meant to fall in love with him. That’s on us. Ted Bundy, that’s on you. Jeffrey Dahmer, that is on Netflix. That is squarely on the shoulders of Netflix.”
And he’s got a point. Netflix did receive a lot of justified criticism from those who felt it had been highly insensitive to rehash some of the most disturbing details of Dahmer’s killing spree, especially considering none of the victims’ families had been involved in the production.
So far we’ve only been gifted with the first part of season four of You. Although, thankfully we won’t have to wait too long as the second half is due to be released on 9 March. I suppose, until then, we’ll just have to spend our days happily watching Badgley drag Netflix to filth on TikTok. What could be more fun?
After the release of Netflix’s Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, its infamous serial killer and cannibal subject is back in the spotlight—again. This time, it’s all thanks to a sickening TikTok trend that’s currently gaining traction on the platform.
As shown in the limited-run series, Dahmer dismembered his victims and then took polaroid pictures of them in sexual poses. Dubbed as the ‘polaroid challenge’, the trend in question hence involves TikTok users looking up these images online and recording their reactions for the rest of the world to see.
As you can imagine, this has caused many people to call out creators jumping on the so-called trend for using Dahmer’s victims as bait for likes and views—which in itself is sickening. At the same time, it also begs the question as to why these disturbing images are available to the public in the first place.
The internet is rightly furious about this, with netizens taking to social media to speak out against this awful challenge. “People on TikTok are upset because they couldn’t find the polaroids Dahmer took of his victims? What is wrong with people? I’m actually sick to my stomach right now,” one person tweeted, while another added: “Only TikTok would make it a trend to look at and post a reaction to looking at the Jeffrey Dahmer polaroids.”
The polaroid challenge isn’t the only thing the new Netflix show is being criticised for. Following the success of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, the victims’ families revealed they were never consulted about the making of the programme, and hence never gave their consent for it to be made, with relatives expressing their anger and grief on Twitter.
The ‘Milwaukee Monster’, before being beaten to death just two years into his prison sentence, has even previously described to the FBI that the best cuts of human flesh tastes like fillet mignon—a cut of meat taken from the smaller end of the tenderloin of a cow—and also admitted to his interviewer that he would cook “thighs, biceps and various internal organs” on a skillet before consuming them.
While true crime media is big business and enjoyed by many people across the globe, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is possibly the most controversial one on the bottomless list yet, with many issues arising in its wake—including the problematic resurgence of serial killer romanticisation with every new TikTok and YouTube Shorts edit. And with hype for the show still going strong, it seems like the story of one of the world’s most notorious killers, as well as all the controversies surrounding him, are here to stay for a while longer.