you apologize for not knowing who the test boys are. I will proudly admit my own ignorance, minutes before I am assigned this story. But there are millions more who have adored them, for years, to the point of white-hot obsession and now heartbreak.
The YouTube collective, made up of thirty-somethings Keith Habersberger, Ned Fulmer, Zach Kornfeld, and Eugene Lee Yang, got together in 2014. (They started making BuzzFeed videos of all places, back when the site was still in the YouTube business.) and meme content.) The group was designed to be an oppressively serious, personality-driven set of content. They specialized in the kind of smooth-boy, Jackass-lite stunts designed to rack up mounds of clicks from Facebook liberals passively online:The Try Guys Experience labor contraction simulations, Try Guys Eat Everything at KFC, The Try Guys sit down with Beto O’Rourke—which thrived in the post-Trump cultural confusion.
While they parted ways with BuzzFeed in 2018 to become independent, the tone of the Try Guys did not change. Overall, I think a good analog for his general vibe is the way Joss Whedon sweatily interpreted feminism from him in the mid-2000s. That comparison is going to become very apt, very soon.
These pro guys won nearly eight million YouTube subscribers for all your hard (?) work. While they may no longer be at the peak of their algorithmic dominance, they can still reliably boast hundreds of thousands of views per video, uploaded to the channel almost daily. It’s quite a scandal! The Try Guys did it.
But what happens when a member of your nondescript cast of soy-faced, chaste jerks reveals an all-pervading libido? What if they fall dangerously in love with another popular YouTuber? And what if all of this happens after the Try Guys made their relationship status a core part of their façade of respectability, to the point that all of their wives starred in their own podcast under the umbrella Try Guys brand? You see where I’m going with this.
Let’s jump to the end and work backwards. Earlier this week, one of the Try Guys, ned fulmerwas caught on video kissing a woman, who was surely not his wife, at a club in New York City. Fans had already noted that Try Guys had not only moved to a less regular upload cadence for the month of September, but that Fulmer was not in any of the videos that had been posted since the group made that announcement. This led fans to suspect that Fulmer had been eliminated; when that video allegedly of Ned surfaced, it seemed to confirm all fan speculation about his status within the group.
These accusations are no longer cloaked in innuendo and conjecture: On Tuesday, the Try Guys announced that have severed ties with Fulmer“after internal review”, and Fulmer issued a statement admitting to a “consensual relationship in the workplace”, adding that he will focus all his attention on his “marriage” and his “children”, while trying to rebuild his reputation. Fulmer announced all this on his instagram Y Twitterwhere his profile picture is an image of him making a thumbnail-ready duck face, the kind of expression you’d see displayed on Fortnite videos, which I think adds emphasis to the spectacularly hilarious incongruity of this situation.
Fulmer’s wife is Ariel Fulmer, and she is deeply involved in the YouTube business in her own right. She has almost 500,000 followers on Instagram and appears frequently on Try Guys programming, making infidelity a sick amalgamation of the personal and the professional. (She also released a statement on the matter, essentially echoing what Ned said earlier.)
Images of Fulmer’s indiscretion were first circulated on Reddit, where distraught fans quickly tried to figure out who the other woman was. Shockingly, the person he was caught with is allegedly Alexandra Herring, a producer on the set of Try Guys and the star of one of the channel’s spin-off series, “Food Babies.” (It’s a show about a group of YouTubers who eat a lot of food on camera. You can skip it.) Herring has not commented on this, but rumors have it that her fiancé, Will Thayer, removed all references to her from her Instagram account, which, as we all know, is the first step of any decoupling soft launch. It’s a horribly messy situation that will undoubtedly leave a number of lives damaged and careers ruined.
Despite all the jokes I’ve made here, it’s important to remember that the Fulmers have two children and are forced to work on an extremely ordinary and extremely humiliating relationship drama under the harsh lights of YouTube fame. They must be heard when they ask for privacy. But given the nature of the internet and all the cottage industry surrounding influencer drama, chances are they aren’t.
Infidelity seems to be in the air right now. Fulmer has taken over from Adam Levine, who is mired in a sexting scandal confused with TikTokwhose syntax has already been converted a hall of fame meme. John Mulaney endured a fight much like the Try Guys debacle in 2021. He spoke lovingly about his wife (and his decision not to have children) for years on his stand-up comedy, before filing for divorce. and quickly join Olivia. Munn later. Munn and Mulaney had a son together last year, and the pristine image of him as the ideal, healthy husband was understandably shattered forever.
Twitter has had enough of their favorite husbands taking their favorite wives for granted. I have seen several people call a referendum on these so-called Wife Guys forever, because men who make their marriage partners a central part of their social media brand cannot be trusted. After all, exposing one’s marriage for content only makes the potential for a fall from grace more pronounced and more punishing.
I understand where they’re coming from, but I think I have a slightly more philosophical view of the pressure of being extremely married in the melting pot of YouTube. The culture has become too friendly to its favorite creators, and that has plagued the Internet with this strange and defective parasocial familiarity— this idea that you, the audience, are on the sounding board of a family unit that is recovering from a devastating breach of trust. No one, not even the most ardent Try Guys watchers, the biggest Mulaney fans, or Levine’s devoted army, Really you know who these people are. Its content does not provide tangible vectors in their lives when they are not performing; Celebrities are, and always will be, strangers to us, and that’s a good thing to remember. These lines have been blurred in an age where branding relies on an artificial intimacy to be nurtured with a legion of stans.
Yeah, it’s cool and surreal to watch. Snoop Dogg live on Twitch either Reese Witherspoon dusting off TikTok challenges, but I think we have taken this link too far. Why the hell would I assume that John Mulaney is a faithful husband? What evidence do I have that everything is going well behind the scenes at the Try Guys studio? The only thing authentically related to any famous person is that they, like us, constantly keep up appearances.
Of course, The Try Guys found themselves in the business of being professional friends and professional spouses, and that brand just can’t stand an affair that jeopardizes that completely untenable standard. A stain was inevitable, and it could have come in countless different forms; a divorce, an argument, a cavalcade of creative differences, a million little slights that ultimately culminate in a breakup. But social media fame is not yet equipped to respond to the bitter fruits of life. It’s a fundamental truth that any on-camera relationship can be different off-camera, but unfortunately, for now, that divide remains unresolved. And so Ned Fulmer will no longer appear in any Try Guys productions. He wasn’t the man everyone thought he was, and on YouTube that’s a deathblow.