Of monsters and men: Physical attractiveness and the appearance of monstrosity in Netflix’s You

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The series You, which has become part of the cultural zeitgeist since the first season became available on Netflix in December 2018, has introduced a protago- nist at the same time in line and notably different from other serialized serial kill- ers. By establishing the main character, played by former Gossip Girl heartthrob Penn Badgley, not only as the protagonist but romantic lead in a format blurring conventions from both the psychological thriller and the romance, the series chal- lenges viewers to negotiate their attraction for a television character that seems ‘unloveable’. Portrayed as both a (literal) stalker and serial killer in the series, how viewers talk about Joe Goldberg underlines an understanding of the contem- porary monstrous body as a site of manifestation. Through a discourse analysis of comments posted on Twitter and YouTube about the show and its main charac- ter, this article highlights how viewers interrogate questions of monstrosity and morality through the visuality of the body. As an interpretive repertoire centred on Embodiment, highlighting the attractive and non-threatening body functions as a practice of meaning-making that is aware of, but does not necessarily follow an ‘intended’ reading by the producers of popular culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-154
Number of pages22
JournalThe Journal of Fandom Studies
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

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