SNL’s Try Guys skit misses the punchline

Infidelity scandal opens debate on power dynamics and consent

SNL dismissed the seriousness of the issue in their skit.
Photo: 

SNL missed the mark once again by punching down a situation more serious than they realize.

The Try Guys are a group of YouTube content creators formerly associated with Buzzfeed and now working independently. As the name suggests, the Try Guys’ content is mostly about the four—now three—members exploring new subjects and trying new activities, using their unique, comical personas to relate to their audience.

The group has become well known in the world of pop culture over the years. So, when the news came out a few weeks ago that Ned Fulmer had been fired from the Try Guys for cheating on his wife, the internet exploded.

It exploded not just because Fulmer—the “wife guy”—committed the ultimate betrayal in a marriage, but because the affair was with a Try Guys employee.

Altogether, this gauntlet of news is overwhelming. While young adults are bound to comment on the scandal—and maybe even curate some memes about it—the majority of the discourse has acknowledged the inappropriate power dynamic involved in the affair.

Unfortunately, SNL did not.

SNL aired a skit about a week after the news was released, escalating this internet cheating scandal to something talked about in the mainstream.

In the skit, SNL mocks not just Fulmer, but the rest of Try Guys and their video addressing the situation. The issue, according to the skit, was Fulmer had a “side-chick and didn’t tell his friends,” ignoring the massive implications and consequences of his actions.

While it’s in SNL’s nature to satirize everything, the skit failed to acknowledge the complexity and seriousness of the situation, which is a problem.

The Try Guys’ scandal is different from the regular celebrity cheating scandals we see all the time. The issue with Fulmer’s actions does not just involve an immoral decision that affects his marriage, but also has legal and financial implications.

Having an affair in the first place tarnishes the squeaky-clean reputation the Try Guys have built over the past eight years. Having an affair with an employee—Fulmer’s subordinate—opens the Try Guys to a slew of HR and legal issues.

For one, given the power dynamic between Fulmer and his employee, is this workplace harassment? Can their relationship really be consensual given the power imbalance?

Regardless of the woman’s role in the affair, Fulmer, as one of the owners of the company, had a responsibility to not engage with an employee that way. This troubling power dynamic can’t be ignored, no matter how “consensual” he says the relationship was.

It's important to remember the Try Guys have an audience of over eight million people.

Their YouTube channel makes enough money for them to have hired a whole team to produce their videos. Fulmer has a cookbook, which was featured in an architectural digest video, and the Try Guys have a TV deal.

In a situation involving this sort of power dynamic—especially one in which the boss is a large media personality—possible coercion is incredibly likely, as Fulmer’s influence extends beyond the Try Guys company.

While the internet at large seems to acknowledge this, it's disappointing and troubling to see SNL diminish the seriousness of this issue. At the end of the day, Fulmer affected more than just his personal relationships; he put the company in a troubling situation.

It's alarming how SNL could play down such a huge power imbalance. It sets a dangerous precedent in media and shows how had it not been for the Try Guys’ swift action, Fulmer might not have been held accountable by the industry.

Ultimately, when it comes to the affair itself the consent here is dubious at best, and completely non-existent at worst.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.