Why Penn Badgley requested no sex scenes for You season four

"This was actually a decision I had made before I took the show."

You season 4
(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix © 2022)

You is the Netflix series which has caused quite the stir over the years. 

The show, which is based on the novel of the same name by author Caroline Kepnes, sees Penn Badgley take on the role of obsessive bookstore manager/stalker/murderer, Joe Goldberg. 

The Gossip Girl alumni has reprised his role in season four (with the storyline already spurring a number of wild but credible fan theories), but the latest instalments have had a little shake up as they are not as steamy as previous seasons. 

Why? Penn himself requested less sex scenes this time round, and there's a personal reason. 

Throughout his on-screen relationships - whether with Guinevere Beck in season one or Love Quinn in season three - there are certain scenes that show Joe and his love interests getting intimate.

But by season four, the actor pushed for less explicit intimacy with co-stars on screen, and he has insisted the request was put in prior to the series' debut release. 

Speaking on the podcast Podcrushed, the 36-year-old said: "I asked Sera Gamble, the creator, 'Can I just do no more intimacy scenes?' This was actually a decision I had made before I took the show.

"I don't think I've ever mentioned it publicly, but one of the main things is, 'Do I want to put myself back on a career path where I'm always [the] romantic lead?'"

Not only did Penn want to change the narrative surrounding his career and future projects, but also out of respect for his partner. 

Penn - who shares two children with his wife, Domino Kirke - said: "Fidelity in every relationship — especially in a marriage — is important to me. It got to a point where [I thought], 'I don't want to do that,' so I said to Sera, like, 'My desire would be zero [intimate scenes], to go from 100 to zero.'

"I signed this contract. I signed up for the 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."

Sera granted Penn's request without any qualms - much to his relief.

He continued: "Sera didn't even bat an eye. She was really glad that I was that honest, and she was sort of almost empowered. She had a really positive response and they came back with a phenomenal reduction."

The first few episodes of You season four are available to watch on Netflix now, however, the second part of the latest series is set for release in March - just to keep us sweating a little longer. 

Maisie Bovingdon

Maisie is a writer and editor, covering Royal News, Showbiz, Lifestyle content, as well as Shopping Writing and E-Commerce, for print and digital publications, including Marie Claire, Hello!, Fabulous, Mail Online and Yahoo!.