"Loving" a Killer


Netflix’s You, released September 9, 2018, follows the story of Joe, a bookstore manager, who falls in love with one of his customers at first sight. While obviously smart and passionate about books and his work, Joe is rather plain. Unassuming. Some would even say “average.” And the viewer quickly discovers that he is willing to kill for love.

Many critics and fans praised the show for its suspenseful and sometimes comedic plot. The show became especially popular among women ages 18-24, who started to express romantic feelings for the main character. Some took to twitter to say how they wished they had someone like Joe in their life: a man who would stalk them, because that showed true devotion.

About four months later, Netflix released Confessions of a Serial Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile back to back. While the former is a documentation of the Bundy’s time on death row, the latter is a dramatization of his crimes through his girlfriend’s perspective. Again, young women took to the internet to share their attraction for the famed murderer. Could this be explained away by hybristophilia (attraction to a partner who has committed “an outrage against someone”), or is this a cultural phenomenon? Penn Badgley, who plays Joe Goldberg, shares his thoughts on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Badgley has also spoken out on twitter to women aspiring to date someone like his character, reminding them that a murderer is not someone they should want to be with.

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