The Failed WB/CW Shows ‘You’ Actor Penn Badgley Starred in Before ‘Gossip Girl’

Today, Penn Badgley is well known for playing the unpredictable, creepy, and all-too manipulative stalker in the Netflix original You. Yet, before this show fell in his lap, the actor made a name for himself in Gossip Girl, which also led to bustling careers for Chace Crawford and Blake Lively. Though Badgley has Gossip Girl to thank for his success today, the actor was hesitant to sign onto the show. While future typecasting was a concern, the actor also already had a few failed experiences with the production network. 

You Penn Badgley
Penn Badgley attends ‘You’ New York series premiere | Jenny Anderson/Getty Images

Penn Badgley denied ‘Gossip Girl’ at first 

During an interview with Vulture, Badgley discussed Gossip Girl, noting that he needed quite the push to agree to the role. He shared: 

“But the reason I turned it down initially was because I was just frustrated. I was frustrated and I was broke and I was depressed and I was like, ‘I cannot do that again. I can’t.’ But then my parents and my managers, they let me come to my own conclusion, but they were like ‘You need this, man. It’s not your thing, it’s not your bag, but …’” 

Though his parents and his manager tried to push him to do Gossip Girl, he didn’t want to. He explained that he had “been getting a gift from the head of Warner Bros. television since [he] was 15 years old.” He explained that the creator came to him, and he turned her down. 

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When those behind the show came back to Badgley and said they couldn’t find anyone else, he agreed. Yet, given his prior bad luck with the network, his hesitance should come as no surprise. Before CW, there were its predecessors — WB and UBN — and Badgely didn’t have much luck with the predecessors. 

Inside Penn Badgley’s failed WB shows 

Before Gossip Girl, Badgley starred in The Mountain, Do-Over, and The Bedford Diaries, among other WB missteps. The Mountain was a 2004 TV drama that lasted one season. The show followed David Carver Jr., (Oliver Hudson) who is left to lead his grandfather’s ski resort when he dies. David hasn’t been in town for a while and doesn’t want the responsibility. Meanwhile, his brother, who has been around, is not too happy. And, a real estate mogul is after the property. Badgley portrayed the supporting character, Sam Tunney. 

Do-Over was a 2002 sitcom that also ran for one season. The show followed Joel Larson – an unhappy 34-year-old who gets thrown into the past following a freak accident. Back in his freshman year of high school, he has the chance to change his future. Badgley played the main character. 

The Bedford Diaries was also a one-season show, and it focused on a college human sexuality class at a fictional New York City arts college. In short, it was yet another WB show about sex and scandal — but this one didn’t succeed like Gossip Girl.