Penn Badgley has a somewhat reluctant tagline for his upcoming Lifetime stalker drama YOU: “If you like Gossip Girl, this one is going to be a killer,” the actor jokingly pitched at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Thursday.
The psychological thriller stars the Gossip guy as Joe, a bookstore manager who becomes obsessed with aspiring writer Beck (played by Once Upon a Time‘s Elizabeth Lail) and uses social media to track her every move.
“Certainly, there are parallels” between Joe and lonely boy Dan Humphrey, Badgley admitted. “I’d say the first scene of the first episode, and by every measure, Joe might appear to be Dan. And then he diverges.”
“Also, as time goes on, I’m … more accepting of the fact that there’s no way to control people’s perception of what they’re watching,” he continued. “If people want to see the similarities, and focus on those, that’s fine, because they’re there.”
While Badgley can’t deter such comparisons, he is “really interested to see how people respond to this show” in the wake of the #MeToo movement. “I, personally, feel that it is a bit of a social experiment,” he said. “It’s like a litmus test. It’s interesting to see the mental gymnastics that we’ll go through as a culture to still love an evil white man…. It’ll add to the conversation, and create its own conversation.”
YOU premieres Sunday, Sept. 9 at 10/9c on Lifetime.