By now you’ve probably heard that the Try Guys — the foursome of former BuzzFeed employees who made their name mockingly performing activities traditionally associated with women and gay men on camera in increasingly desperate and grotesque ways, and eventually accumulating a rabid fanbase of incredibly lost people by never once saying or doing a single thing that is funny or interesting — are in hot water. Specifically, one of them — each one has a personality, and this one’s is that he is married — cheated on his wife with an employee, leading to his ousting from the group. His name is Ned.
After a week of processing, the remaining three Try Guys, who by some miracle of venture-funded digital media disruption and Obama-era anything-goes optimism ended up as on-camera talent, are back to creating short-form video content for their hungry, hungry viewers to slobber down along with their daily Sweetgreen Harvest Bowl.
“From the jump, we were acutely aware of just how contrary this was to the values of the company we built,” says Eugene Lee Yang (the furious fashionista on the left) in the sort of HR-speak that makes BuzzFeed readers feel safe, and with all the enthusiasm of a gay guy who has been forced to spend the best years of his life pretending to be delighted by his three random straight coworkers doing improv. The two of them that still remain, presumably named Doug and Jeff but who knows, nod along. One of them is holding back tears — this is the craziest thing that’s ever happened to him, and he once got a colonic.
Long story short, Ned will be removed from already recorded upcoming videos where possible, but will remain in sponsored videos for which the contracts have already been signed. Employment lawyers are involved, and there is a lot of talk about “transparency” and not “sweeping things under the rug.” (For YouTube creators, one of the most morally reprehensible things a person can do is not address something on camera.) The fate of the 11 Try Guys spinoffs currently airing, including the podcast Ned’s wife hosts with the other members’ wives, is unclear.
For so long the Try Guys were exemplary avatars of the values BuzzFeed was founded on — always address readers like they are toddlers; the past is literally so random; when in doubt, go even dumber, no literally even more — and it really does feel like the end of an era. But after we’re all done mourning, we must put on our $95 Try Guys-branded “Squad Tracksuit Set” and get back to work, ideally in a setting with an HR department and clear boundaries between the professional and the personal. It’s what Ned, probably in hindsight, would have wanted.