If my life were reduced to a sketch on a cringey comedy show, it would go something like this: Girl meets boy, girl enters decade-plus-long relationship with boy, boy starts quoting Tim Robinson’s Netflix show I Think You Should Leave. At first, girl gives these a chuckle. But as her polite laughter slips into silence, boy, in a move familiar to viewers of ITYSL, doubles down on his behavior, incessantly referencing the show and adopting Robinson’s garbled sentences as his own, despite the blank stares that result. But it’s too late for him now. As Robinson himself once said, in a line that I’ve now heard too many times to count, he’s “mighty sick.”
It’s not that I don’t like ITYSL. I do! It’s amusing, and I’m even guilty of glumly confessing “I don’t want to be around anymore,” like Robinson’s defeated mall prankster. But my partner, and seemingly many others’ partners, takes on an entirely new identity and lexicon upon the release of each new season. Ever since the third season of ITYSL dropped a few weeks ago, my boyfriend has been talking to as if he’s a doll with a string on the back, pre-programmed with sayings from the show. Now I also want to kill the Driving Crooner.
My boyfriend and I typically share interests—in-depth Top Chef analysis, me getting massages—or at least try to get into what the other person loves. This year, he started watching Summer House with me, and by the end of this season of Vanderpump Rules, he was able to sort his Lalas from his Arianas. There’s something about ITYSL that is particularly damaging to the male brain, though. It makes men believe that they are constantly engaged in an inside joke … with themselves.
My boyfriend’s affliction isn’t unique to him. “Every time a new season of itysl comes out, my boyfriend immediately adopts Tim Robinson character mannerisms and becomes impossible to be around for 1-3 weeks,” the writer Rayne Fisher-Quann tweeted. “New Tim Robinson day is bad for girlfriends whose boyfriends already do too many bits,” another person posted. The show seems to have a degenerative effect on the language of men who grew up learning to communicate and connect through Super Bad and Anchorman sound bites. Loving lamp is the gateway to spontaneously shouting an outrageously long drive-through order.
I have a question that’s rude and massively overgeneralizing, but: Why do straight men do this? Every woman runs into these types of guys who mold their personalities around some form of entertainment. I can’t think of my middle school experience without hearing my crush greet every other boy with a prepubescent Wazzzzup. In college, the fratboys at USC—a particularly bad bunch, admittedly!—either worshiped Christian Bale’s character in American Psycho or took on Tyler Durden’s philosophy from Fight Club. (Did you guys hear about the first rule or not??) Seen through that lens, there are more offensive things than being a bit-loving ITYSL guy. Still, to quote Robinson: I can’t know how to hear anymore about I Think You Should Leave.