Can someone explain POV boyfriend videos to me?
POV: my girlfriend just died at homecoming and Y/N is comforting me.
Image via YouTube
TikTok, by its very nature, is filled with some truly bizarre stuff. The bottomless pit that is the FYP means that, for every hour you spend mindlessly scrolling, the algorithm has to find newer, more exciting content to stop you from going off to do anything productive with your life. This, inevitably, is how we end up watching elderly pugs who predict the weather with their bones, makeup tutorials soundtracked by stomach churning-ly gory true crime lore, and millions of people who believe (and they may be right!) that you can truly manifest yourself into a different reality, spending your days living out the fantasy of being Draco Malfoy’s girlfriend.
Weirder still than all that though, is a niche genre of videos that all take the same format. A teenage-ish aged boy stares at the camera while moody music -- that sounds like it was taken from a Riverdale B-side -- plays in the background. The plot begins to unfold: he speaks the blue line, you speak the pink line, and you are, for this short period of time, this boy’s girlfriend. It sounds simple enough (after all, there is plenty of cringe on TikTok, enough that it inspired its own 1.1 million strong subreddit), but the plots of the videos themselves are what make them particularly deranged.
The unnamed girlfriends in the videos, which invite the billions of teenage girls on TikTok to duet and usually refer to them as y/n (“your name”), engage in some truly depraved behaviour towards the poor men in these videos. They cheat on them at basketball games, concerts, Christmas parties and high school proms (cheating is a common theme). They are widowed when their doe-eyed TikTok boyfriends die in car crashes, or donate their organs to allow them to live. They’re even sensually arrested by cops (the cop characters played off-screen presumably by the creators’ bizarrely non-judgemental friends). The stories become more and more traumatic and heartbreaking, usually culminating with the TikTok creator flashing wounded puppy-dog eyes to the camera, or allowing a single tear to slowly roll down their cheek, which honestly, in the industry of TikTok acting, is admittedly impressive.
The traumatic horniness of the y/n videos have become so infamous on TikTok that, along with regularly gracing the painful, embarrassing archives of r/TikTokcringe, it’s inspired its own sub-genre where women duet the clips and point out how ridiculous the plot is. That doesn’t stop the original videos continuing to pull in millions and millions of views though. Some have even speculated that the piss-take responses, which draw in their own considerable audiences too, have only inspired the sad boyfriend actors of the platform to become more and more extreme with their content and plotlines.
Given that the girlfriend characters in these videos are so heartless, it makes you wonder who these weird mini-films are really for? They borrow the same tropes as the best of the worst fanfiction, but in video form the stories become more visceral and cringe yet oddly cinematic, perhaps spelling the end of the reign of FanFiction.net and AO3 for good. However, unlike fanfiction, the videos lack the erotic parasocial thrill of immersing yourself in a fantasy world where you’re being rescued from a kidnapper by Timothée Chalamet, or finding out that Harry Styles has adopted you, an adult woman.
Maybe the answer then is that the videos are for the exact same audience who spent their evenings obsessively reading every One Direction fanfic the internet had to offer: teenage girls who are both horny and devastatingly confused by that horniness. In 2021, though, in the reign of the FYP, the object of our frantic obsession isn’t a popstar or an actor or even a real influencer: it’s sad, anonymous blonde boys on TikTok who can’t believe you cheated on them right before fucking finals, Vanessa, you cruel hag.