Watch Literature on Screen: You

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Literature on Screen: You is the third installment of Literature on Screen, a mini-series within PEN/Faulkner’s Literary Conversations program in which we feature authors whose work has been adapted into a film or TV series. Featuring Caroline Kepnes, author of the best-selling book turned hit Netflix series You, in conversation with actor Penn Badgley and moderator Chris Klimek, this event took place on September 23, 2020 at 7 pm EDT.

The transcript for this event is available here.


“What do we want from people, how much do we want them to follow us? And then also we have to understand that we don’t get to make those rules, it’s just not the way humans are built, they’re going to do things we don’t want them to do. Like Joe, being the worst possible version of that.” – Caroline Kepnes

“I think we all identify with [what] Caroline was saying – when we suffer, we tend to overanalyze, you know. In our sadness, our vision is actually clouded. Sometimes we might think it’s… sharper, it’s clearer. But I think actually sadness brings a veil of a kind, and we do become overly analytical. And so, to me, as much as I understand [Joe], I also think, huh, where I understand and identify with him – I have some [self-accounting] to do there.” – Penn Badgley

“To me, [Joe] always considers himself the victim, the one in the right, the only one with a moral compass. But the other part of that logic is that if he’s moral, no one else can be. No one else will ever go through what he’s been through. No one will know how hard it is to be him.” – Caroline Kepnes

“Joe doesn’t exist without white privilege! … I think Joe is too charming in the show, personally. I always wanted to make him creepier… I think that Joe on camera is, to me, the best thing he is, is an allegory for white supremacy in a way. That’s what I got in touch with in season two a lot, personally.” – Penn Badgley

This year, PEN/Faulkner has decided to adopt a Pay-What-You-Will model for our Literary Conversations to ensure that they remain accessible to all audiences. If you’re able to, please consider making a donation so we can continue to provide high quality literary programs that matter to you.

Learn more about our upcoming Literary Conversations here.

You can also pre-order the third book in the Joe Goldberg series, You Love Me, by Caroline Kepnes here.