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Good looks, bad motives

By Cassie Gaudes

Netflix’s new show You premiered in January. You follows Joe, a bookstore manager in New York City, who meets a girl named Beck and becomes obsessed with her. Similarly, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is the new biopic about the serial killer Ted Bundy.

Joe in You (played by Penn Badgley) and Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked (played by Zac Efron) share some characteristics in their behavior. The smaller details are different, but the premise is the same – both series are about a good-looking guy who appears to be kind but is actually a psychopathic serial killer.

Bundy was sentenced to death for the murder of three girls and died by the electric chair in 1989. By that point, he had confessed to killing 28 people. Experts have estimated the number could be in the hundreds. The movie is told from the perspective of Elizabeth Kloepfer, who was Bundy’s long-term girlfriend. The film premiered at the Sundance Movie Festival on Jan. 26.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Extremely Wicked for romanticizing Bundy. For example, in one controversial scene, Bundy has a side-smirk and winks at the camera. This has caused some negative feelings toward the film. Even celebrities are voicing their opinions.

Efron’s portrayal does not try to romanticize the character, but shows how Bundy really was – a charming man on the outside, but crazy on the inside.

On the other hand, fans of You fawn over Joe, who comes across normal and romantic on the surface. Dig deeper and he’s a sinister character who commits horrible crimes.

Joe’s obsession spirals out to a point where he does not let anyone come between them. He tracks down the man that Beck is dating, kidnaps him and eventually kills him in a glass storage facility in the basement. He also ends up killing Beck when she tries to leave him.

While fans have been criticizing Efron, fan reactions are the opposite with regards to Badgley. Fans of You do not seem to be ashamed of their love for Joe. Buzzfeed even has a quiz titled Is Joe Goldberg Going To Be Obsessed With You? and an article with pictures of Joe saying how hot he is in the baseball cap he wears.

Some fans have been tweeting their love for Joe. Badgley has been replying to them to remind them Joe is crazy. The character is a warning to audiences about how to someone could be in real life.

What seems to be forgotten is the fact that these men were dangerous was their personality. Both Bundy and Joe were able to convince women (and people) in their lives that they were normal.

You and Extremely Wicked both portray serial killers the way they do because serial killers can be hard to identify. Serial killers can come across as harmless and charismatic and can charm those around them. Nevertheless, they are crazy.

Cassie Gaudes can be reached at cassidy.gaudes@spartans.ut.edu

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