‘SNL’ laughs off workplace misconduct with lazy Try Guys spoof


On Sunday morning, I opened my YouTube app and queued up a Saturday Night Live sketch. They were tackling the Try Guys cheating scandal that has gripped the internet this past week. To be honest, I was kind of excited to watch it. I expected a few jokes at ex-Try Guy Ned Fulmer’s expense, really illustrating how he’d jeopardized his marriage, career, friendships, and the business he’d built over the past five years. Throw in a few digs at Buzzfeed listicles, and it’d be a solid spoof.

Instead, SNL took the lazy route, downplaying some seriously bad behavior, while delighting in the pain of others. Here’s what they got wrong.

Condoning brazen workplace misconduct

In the skit, Ego Nwodim plays a CNN news anchor and host Brendan Gleeson is a correspondent. As Nwodim brings up Russia and Ukraine, Gleeson interrupts with breaking news: the Try Guys have released an official YouTube video addressing Fulmer’s indiscretions and are here to talk about it. Try Guys Eugene Lee Yang (Bowen Yang), Zack Kornfeld (Mikey Day), and Keith Habersberger (Andrew Dismukes) appear on screen in an almost picture-perfect recreation of their “what happened” video.

“I am trying to understand why this story is such a scandal,” says Nwodim to the guys. “Was this affair non-consensual?”

“No, worse,” says Day as Kornfeld. “[Fulmer] committed the heinous act of having a consensual kiss and not telling us, his friends.”

That’s played for laughs, but it’s not quite right. Fulmer admitted to having been in a relationship with an employee for months, making consent extremely difficult to parse. “You have to remember the power dynamics,” says Gleeson (before undermining the statement with a bad joke) — and he’s right.

Before he was let go, Fulmer was one of the four owners of 2nd Try, LLC who manage a team of 20 and a multi-million dollar brand, on top of being semi-celebrities. And Fulmer, specifically, had built a personal brand around being a loving husband and father to two young boys. To put his actions in terms that an SNL writer might understand: imagine Lorne Michaels had made being a family guy a core tenant of his public personality. Then imagine him having an ongoing eight-month affair with a cast member. The imbalance of power is huge, to say nothing of the way it affects workplace dynamics.

But maybe cheating is A-OK at 30 Rock. Later in the skit, Nwodim tells the Try Guys, “Bro, Jay-Z cheated on Beyonce. It’s going to be OK.” The thing is: This isn’t an infidelity scandal. While shocking, Ned having an affair isn’t grounds for removing him from the company; but this was clear workplace violation, and in the Try Guys taking such a public stance against his conduct and swiftly severing ties professionally, they put their employees and demonstrated how workplace misconduct should be handled.

Misunderstanding the Try Guys brand and fandom

In the skit, Gleeson says “the wife guy Try Guy… disrespected the brand by making out with one of the Food Babies at the Harry Styles concert.” The line is meant to make the whole situation sound silly and overblown (the Food Babies are two 2nd Try employees with a spin-off show on the main channel), but the Try Guys have always prided themselves on making family-friendly content. Their brand depends on it; demonetization is an ever-present looming threat to creators on YouTube, and many brands also prefer to work with creators who have a shiny public image.

Fulmer’s actions tarnish that reputation, sully their brand name, and have real monetary consequences. His conduct is also directly antithetical to his personal brand of a wife-loving family man, which he showcased in nearly every video. For fans of the Try Guys, some of whom have been watching them for more than eight years, Fulmer’s flip was seen as a betrayal of their trust.

The skit also relished poking fun at the Try Guys’ particular brand of silly, often millennial humor (As Kornfeld, Day says things like “amazeballs and “sadballs”). Between this and a characteristically nasty take from Gawker, I am left wondering what people have against dumb jokes and a good time.

Leaving out the real jobs are on the line

By the end of the skit, Nwodim’s character still doesn’t get it. “You cut him out completely, then fired him?” she asks the guys on the couch. I ask the SNL writing staff: Would you want to work with someone who had crossed workplace boundaries, publicly cheated on his wife, and jeopardized a business you had been building together for five years?

When the Try Guys left Buzzfeed in 2018, they decided to start a content company that required significant financial investment from all four of them. At that time it was extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an IP to exit the established brand where it was built and become self-sufficient on YouTube. Somehow, the Try Guys did it. Their channel now has more than eight million subscribers and releases multiple videos a week. In August 2022 alone they published nine high-quality videos running between 13 to 54 minutes, an enormous volume for any fledgling content creation studio.

Most importantly, the Try Guys brand employs a staff of 20 people. Fulmer’s mistakes have threatened those people’s livelihoods and — by the time lawyers, HR consultants, and editors get paid — have cost the company many hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The skit ends by calling the Try Guys millionaires, but no reliable information about their net worth exists online. Unless, of course, you count entertainment gossip site Distractify, which says they got their info from a site called “Landscape Insight.” According to them, Ned is worth $10 million, thanks in part to his “Try DIY” series, while Zach is worth $2 million, Eugene $700,000, and Keith $200,000. The funny thing is that “Try DIY” hasn’t had a new episode in more than two years, while Keith has had a successful hot sauce business with Heatonist for more than three years.

Don’t believe everything you see on the internet, folks. And don’t forget to be kind.


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