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‘Who TF Did I Marry?!?’ Rings in TikTok’s Midlife Crisis Era

“Who TF Did I Marry?!?,” the TikTok user Reesa Teesa’s account of her relationship with her ex-husband, is a story for grown-ups. Over the course of 50 videos, in a monologue topping six hours, Reesa methodically unspools her ex’s web of purported lies. She gives him the code-name “Legion.”

Legion, she says, claimed to have a managerial job at a condiment company, well-stocked savings accounts and approval to buy a company car. He promised her a new house, fresh appliances, a trip abroad. In the end, she says, none of these suburban comforts materialized.

The details of Reesa’s marriage are bizarre and outrageous, but its consumer landscape is familiar. It is an account of midlife — its markers of success and the disillusionment that sets in when they fail to arrive. It is perhaps the first blockbuster of TikTok’s middle-aged era. The opening installment alone, posted on Valentine’s Day, has been viewed more than 37 million times.

Ryan Broderick, in his internet-focused newsletter Garbage Day, analyzed recent data on TikTok users and found that, despite the app’s reputation as a platform for dancing minors, it is increasingly a den of millennials, a cohort born between 1981 and 1996. I am one of them, and we are getting old. Nearly 40 percent of TikTok’s audience is now made up of 30- and 40-somethings, and its content is maturing to suit our obsessions, too.

The story begins in March of 2020, when Reesa, a woman in her 30s living in the Atlanta area, matches with Legion on Facebook Dating and Hinge. He quickly moves in with her (a timeline advanced by Covid’s spread) and they spend much of their early relationship test-driving cars that they will never own and touring open houses they will never occupy.

Legion’s purported lies concern the bureaucratic management of a suburban lifestyle: He shows her screenshots of savings accounts, a copy of a mortgage preapproval, memos from human resources. His lies have paperwork; someone is always printing something out. Just as Reesa starts to suspect that Legion is deceiving her (and this is where the story really embraces its aging demographic), he is unexpectedly bedridden, sidelined by an old knee injury.

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