The Try Guys are a four-man troupe of YouTube creators, originating at the shared workplace of Buzzfeed and quickly capitalising on an intrinsically watchable on-screen chemistry, growing exponentially, till, in 2018, they formed their own content creation company and left the Buzzfeed umbrella.
Of the many running themes of humour was the fixation that member Ned Fulmer had on his wife, mentioning her at every chance unprompted and having humour directed at him by the others about the fact with a tongue-in-cheek resignation. He was also linked heavily to the term“wife guy,”, singling him out for this habit, but also because he was the only married member.
It doesn’t seem obvious that this was such a citadel of culture until it crumbled quickly and suddenly, the aftermath seemingly cosmic in its reach. If you are fortunate enough to have missed this particular news story, Ned Fulmer was seen publically cheating on his wife with a co-worker (allegedly producer Alex Herring). The internet, Twitter especially, erupted into a state of unrest that would, in a nation, precede coup-opinion pieces like Arwa Mahdawi’s on the fall of the Wife Guy ensued.
As Mahdawi admits, the disproportionately large reach of this as a news item has everything to do with the fact that this was a celebrity whose identity largely resided in his statements of love for his wife. As a member of the core demographic for the Try Guys at their peak, i.e., a teenager in the early-mid 2010s, I can attest to this, and have a simple explanation for it: People enjoy watching manifestations of their own aspirations. A partner who you can’t stop talking about even after the disillusioning experience of marriage is something a lot of people want, especially young people, who tend to have warm and comfortable fantasies of romance.
— Cami (@camitwomeyy) September 27, 2022
This identity only grew, as Fulmer and his colleagues developed an increasingly single-tracked reliance on the investment that fans felt knowing more and more about his marriage. Unfortunately and inevitably, as Buzzfeed’s Scaachi Koul points out:
“Creators like the Try Guys want us to root for the Wife Guy, and plenty of us do; the other side of that is the same audience will bear witness to when the Wife Guy inevitably falls.”
Adam Levine, frontman of another 2010s staple, Maroon 5, was recently outed as having had an adulterous affair with TikTok creator Sumner Stroh. The parallels drawn between Levine and Fulmer and their very public fixations on their wives have been logical, if not always fair, coming off a little sadistic towards the main victim of these scandals: The wives themselves. The internet cannot always be seen to revel while a woman suffers very publically (See Britney Spears to Amber Heard).
Part of the online fanfare has been around Try Guys member Eugene Lee Yang, and his demeanour in the short and tense statement that the Try Guys (sans Fulmer) released on their YouTube channel. You see, Eugene, having front-row seats to the burning down of his brand, appeared more than slightly annoyed in this video, and the fans noticed. They noticed, and then proceeded to perpetuate insanely dated stereotypes about the sassy, gossipy nature of the archetypal queer man by making Eugene’s annoyance a full-fledged talking point. It is here that social media hypocrisy begins to come apart at the seams, with obliviousness starting to wane as an excuse.
Eugene came out as gay in a heartachingly beautiful dance-drama sequence in 2019, confirming what even the casual viewer could see as obvious. Eugene, however, by default or design, defies stereotypes, and is loved, as he was before 2019, for his individuality and his candour. To watch these and other traits of his reduced to clichés is disappointing, to say the least.
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Online fandom, a beautiful thing on most days, has cheapened a persona by allowing fans to collapse the boundaries that stand between reality and fiction – -We all love a spicy bit of fanfiction! What no one with critical thinking enjoys is the plain and simple mischaracterisation of a man’s opinion toward what is, to him, a major life event, just so that the sassy gay man who snaps his fingers and says “slay” to everything is exactly how all gay people are seen.
Eugene on the way to film their statement pic.twitter.com/JFu6te2Rou
— Essex College Chief of Diversity (@kingbealestreet) October 4, 2022
An undeniable influence here is also the widening of worldviews in the digital age, with the internet being pivotal in creating a world that is safer, welcoming and validating for queer people. There are people, sometimes, who just aren’t willing to take the onus of grappling with their internalised homophobia – -this can often result in a reactionary, panicked, exaggerated series of statements of support online as they manifest their denial into a public exhibition of allyship, maybe fishing for redemption.
It is not under question why Eugene is so revered in online communities; He possesses the inherently respectable traits of unwavering distinctiveness and unstinted, free-flowing charm and wit. He is youthful and timeless all at once. He is not, however, the million different ways commenters have found to excitedly and “supportively” say “catty” and has spent much of his career making sure he is not reduced to a caricature of himself. Maybe he’ll have a sassy, witty, opinion on a messy straight relationship issue; Or, maybe, just maybe, life isn’t “Sex and the City” and weeks of agonising over a PR and business nightmare is what Eugene is angry about.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Screenshot of the Try Guys’s Instagram selfie: L-R Ned Fulmer, Eugene Lee Yang, Keith Habersberger and Zach Kornfeld. Featured Photo Credit: Try Guys on Instagram.