Shay Mitchell and Penn Badgley make a case for Netflix’s ‘You’

How do you even prepare to meet teen drama royalty in the flesh?

Last week, Netflix gave us that chance by bringing in the dreamboats of mid-2000s teen television, Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl’s resident lonely boy), and Shay Mitchell (Pretty Little Liars’ resident good girl Emily Fields).

The pair star in new Netflix Original You, a thriller-drama characterized by stalking and murder, except packaged liked your average RomCom. Penn plays Joe, the charming bookstore manager-slash-sociopathic stalker of Beck, a girl he meets at the bookstore. Shay plays Peach, Beck’s controlling best friend who is highly suspicious of Joe.

Here’s the thing: most of the assumptions Joe makes about Beck and the people around her come from the way they present themselves online, and as you get further on into the series you see how badly those assumptions can backfire. Knowing a person in that way doesn’t mean you really know the person.

So as a writer about to interview the celebrities who brought these (and other iconic) characters to life, you’d be right to assume that I was intimidated. These guys are the prime example of people thinking that we know them.

My solution? Keep it light and turn to memes. I end the interview by saying “Thank you! ILYSM.” (I love you so much or I love you Shay Mitchell? We’ll never know. Video proof is up on our IGTV). Here’s the rest of our short conversation, in which Penn and Shay discuss their realizations about social media and turon.

You & I: Former teen drama stars Shay Mitchell and Penn Badgley were in Manila to promote Netflix Original series You.

YOUNG STAR: You definitely isn’t a light show. I had so many realizations about the way we perceive people while watching it, so I’m wondering — did you guys come to any realizations of your own as you were filming?

SHAY MITCHELL: I just thought that they hit it on the head with how Joe would go through Beck’s friends and say a little paragraph about each of them. That’s what we do, whether we like it or not. When we look at people you know, then you click to the brother, you click to the friend who can figure it all out and you have your assumptions of who these other people in this person’s life are or like who you’re creeping on. I just feel like another reason why this show was so enjoyed by many people around the world is because when we go on to social media, we’re doing very similar things, we’re making up who this person is that we’re seeing on the screen. “Oh, she’s like this.” “Oh, she must like this.”

Creep charming: Penn says that his character Joe has no right to be that likable, but the fact that he is might reflect the reality that people are more willing to forgive men like him.

Earlier you talked about how there are a lot of people romanticizing the character of Joe, and you even reply to a couple of tweets about it. Were there any takes that you agreed with?

 

PENN BADGLEY: I understand both sides. I wasn’t trying to point out the people who were romanticizing Joe and sort of drag them out or say that they’re problematic. I think what they’re high-lighting is that the show has probably those dimensions. You know, we’re not perfect. We’ve made charming someone who has no right to be that charming, but that might reflect something that’s real, and in societies all around the world. How willing are we to forgive powerful men, charming men who are abusive and violent? So I think it’s calling that out. And when people respond to Joe, like, they like him, that’s fair, because that’s also part of what we’ve done. I mean, you got me in a button-down, winking and narrating.

SHAY: Who cares that he killed people? You know what I mean? (Laughs)

PENN: I think it’s understandable that people are quite charmed. I don’t think that anybody, I would bet that almost no one is having this very simple reaction to it. Like, “I just like him.” I think the point is that everybody’s really troubled.

SHAY: And you are sweet in it.

PENN: I am sweet. Like turon.

 

Stream You on Netflix. Check out the full video of our interview on IGTV by following us at @youngstarphils.

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