In many ways, Season Four of "You" is a continuation of Season Three, picking up where the last one left off. But sharp-eyed viewers might notice there's a reduced degree of intimacy this season. To put it plainly, there are far fewer sex scenes — and the change was star Penn Badgley's idea.
On an episode of Podcrushed, a podcast he co-hosts, Badgley recalled broaching the topic with "You" creator Sera Gamble.
"I asked creator Sera Gamble, 'Can I just do no more intimacy scenes?'" Badgley said.
His hope to pull back from steamy scenes goes beyond "You" and relates to the direction of his career, as he hopes to distance himself from the "romantic lead" image he forged during his "Gossip Girl" breakout role.
"One of the main things was, do I want to put myself back on a career path where I’m always playing the romantic lead?” he asked.
Badgley said that the change aligns with his values. "Fidelity in every relationship, and especially in my marriage, is important to me. It’s got to the point where I don’t want to do that," he said.
Badgley has been married to actor Domino Kirke since 2017, and they welcomed a son in 2020. She has a son from a previous relationship.
Still, he was worried about the ramifications of this change. "Do I have a career if I don't? Think of every male lead you love. Are they kissing someone? Are they doing more than that? And it's not my desire to," he said.
While speaking to creator Gamble, Badgley said he was realistic about keeping some of Joe's fundamental traits in the role — after all, the character is known for his disastrous relationships with women.
“I said to Sera, ‘My desire would be zero, to go from 100 to zero.’ But I signed this contract. I signed up for this show. I know what I did. You can’t take this aspect out of the DNA of the concept. So how much less can you make it, was my question to them," he said.
"She didn’t even bat an eye. She was really glad that I was that honest. She had a really positive response.” he said. "She appreciated my directness and that I was being reasonable and practical. They came back with a phenomenal reduction."
Compared to last seasons, "You" Season Four is more about wealth and privilege than romance. The first five episodes, which premiered on Netflix Feb. 9, follow a series of murders amongst an elite friend group in London.
But while this season might look different romantically, it's still the same "You." Stay tuned for part two of the season dropping on March 9.