My boyfriend can binge dark and meandering movies about the opioid crisis, but fell asleep the one time I put on Bend It Like Beckham. The music he relaxes to gives me tension headaches. We have a blanket “no scrolling TikTok without headphones” rule, for the sake of our mutual sanity. When there’s celebrity news or drama, we are rarely each other’s first texts. Then Taylor Swift started dating The 1975 singer Matty Healy.
Like most other white brunettes who were wronged by a romantic interest in high school, I’m a Taylor Swift fan. I have been part of each era, weathered every one of her reputational storms, and this one—in which she’s dating a pop star with a problematic past—is no different. What is different is that, for the first time, my boyfriend is right there with me. Because, like most other Brooklyn-based white boys with on-again, off-again relationships with their mustaches, he is familiar with The Adam Friedland Show. (See: this tweet.)
The niche comedians behind that podcast are now indirectly responsible for the soft cancellation of one of the music industry’s biggest artists. The Adam Friedland Show, known in an earlier iteration as Cum Town, featured Matty Healy as a guest on February 9. In it, Healy laughed at a racist joke that one of the cohosts made about the artist Ice Spice. The singer later apologized for this when he was on stage. But when news of his rumored relationship with Taylor Swift broke, Swifties and others rediscovered the controversy. You could have given me 100 different blank bingo cards for how the rest of my life was going to play out, and I would not have put the Taylor Swift fandom and the Adam Friedland extended universe colliding into a Washington Post-level news moment on a single one of them. That, plus a dossier of Healy’s other infractions being collected online, means I will never know peace on TikTok again.
But for the first time in our almost five-year relationship, the text chain that my boyfriend and I keep consists of more than just New York Times recipes and questions about whether or not we have butter. It’s a spirited back-and-forth of tweets, memes, and other internet commentary on a cultural moment that we finally—finally!—have in common. He’s sending me posts from Swifities threatening Friedland by name, and I’m sharing sixteen-part Twitter threads by fans holding themselves publicly accountable for attending the Eras tour. We are the same <3.
“Is this the closest you two have ever felt?” a friend of mine joked after news of Swift’s new “Karma” remix featuring Ice Spice—which some view as an elaborate callback to (or amends for) the podcast drama that started this all—broke. (“You’re welcome,” Friedland quote-tweeted over an announcement of the remix.)
Don’t get me wrong—my boyfriend and I do plenty of things together, like spend over $100 any time we go to a restaurant, and sometimes traveling to other countries to do the same thing in Euros. But I now share a sliver of the joy that must be experienced by the kinds of couples who get engaged at concerts of artists they both love or who can put movie posters up in the apartment without a tit-for-tat standoff. It has also made me realize that there’s a lifetime ahead of us in which potentially even weirder and more disparate parts of our pop-culture universes will unexpectedly crossover. I’m hoping it will be Love Island and the Buffalo Bills.