The Real Reason We Root for the Characters in 'You' Despite Their Flaws
As we anticipate You Season 3, many of us are wondering if we’re still going to somehow be rooting for Joe. Played by Penn Badgley, Joe is a murderer with an affinity for stalking women … not really the best guy. Yet somehow, every season, we find ourselves rooting for him.
Now in Season 3, Joe is married to his most recent stalkee, Love Quinn-Goldberg, and together, they have a child. So how do these new parents deal with having a newborn and a body count? And how exactly are we supposed to empathize with these bloodthirsty, psychopathic characters? Showrunner Sera Gamble explained it all at PaleyFest.
Joe and Love are just regular people… with a body count.
Throughout the PaleyFest interview, Penn Badgley, who plays Joe, and Victoria Pedretti, who plays Love, referred to Joe and Love’s very typical human plights. Joe and Love are super normal … except for the fact that they have a body count. Showrunner Sera Gamble explained how we are able to somehow empathize with these murderous characters.
“You can stay on board with really extreme situations if you truly understand where this character is coming from,” she shared. “So a lot of the work is handing them something that makes sense and then giving them the space to behave like humans and work their way through these crazy situations.”
We’ve all been put in unmanageable situations and somehow found a way out. It’s just that in the case of Joe and Love, their way out is … murder.
Penn and Victoria’s acting chops help seal the deal in 'You.'
“Actors on set need to pause for a lot longer than you would in life in conversation because the first AD or Penn’s stand-in are reading his [inner-monologue] so that we have the timing right,” Sera explained, which gives the actors a very difficult job.
“But the unexpected gift of that … is there’s Victoria just being and behaving and living in Love’s body for a really long time because Joe’s head won’t shut up. It makes me love the characters more.”
You gives the actors space to simply be in the bodies of their characters and to behave like humans, which turns out to be what makes them so engaging. Penn jokes that he barely talks while on set, which viewers at home don’t realize because so many of his lines are his inner monologue. But what’s great about that is that it gives us a chance to see these characters in their natural habitats.
“I have the same mixed feelings about the characters that everyone does,” Sera admitted. “But when I just watch her for a really long time and then she says something vulnerable and waits for her husband to say something, and it can take a really long time because he thinks so much before he speaks, it can allow us to see these characters just be in the situation more.”
So if we’re feeling bad when we enjoy watching the characters of You commit some of those heinous acts against humanity, just know that it’s okay! We’re supposed to empathize with them, and showrunner Sera, along with gifted actors Penn and Victoria, are pros at tugging on our heartstrings.
You Season 3 premieres on Netflix on Oct. 15, 2021.