How does one define their existence? Some might answer this question with their purpose in life. Service to others. Happiness. Power.
Others may speak of the legacy they wish to leave behind, one of progress or governance. Perhaps we are not defined by what we do but how we do it. How we worship, lead, hate and love.
If one were to ask The Try Guys’ Ned Fulmer how he defined himself merely days ago, his answer to anyone who has followed his career would be obvious. Above all else, Ned existed to love his wife, Ariel Fulmer.
Ned Fulmer’s entire internet presence was characterized by his marriage.
He did not operate alone so much as he did as a unit, with Ariel at his side.
He idolized his wife as if she were a goddess, praising her strength and beauty. Her role as a mother was even more remarkable, from labor pains to balancing her life as a working mom effortlessly.
Ariel became so intertwined with her husband’s online presence that she too joined The Try Guys in an off-shoot called “The Try Wives.” Ariel and Ned Fulmer were the millennial nuclear family to envy and admire.
That was, of course, until approximately a week ago when Twitter began to stir with allegations that Ned cheated on his wife with a Try Guys’ employee, his subordinate. These allegations were later confirmed by Fulmer in a Sept. 27th Instagram post.
How did this “Wife Guy” fall from grace?
Just ask John Mulaney, Adam Levine or any one of the other “Wife Guys” who allegedly cheated on the wives that they proclaimed their undying love for and shaped career moves around.
This is not to say that Wife Guys do not love their wives or that nobody in the public eye can love their wife. However, when a wife defines one’s existence, it becomes an issue of patriarchy, identity and profit.
The Wife Guy diminishes his wife to an object. She is not anything but “his wife,” and yet he is not described as “her husband.” Under the thin veil of feminism and supporting women, Wife Guys make their partners into trophies, beautiful things only they can touch.
What empowers Wife Guy is not his appreciation for his wife, but his ownership of her.
The Wife Guy makes a spectacle of his spouse, profiting not off his own excellence but his wife’s as well. In the case of Ned Fulmer it was his persona of the married Try Guy, with him mentioning his wife and the kids she gave him in every upload. Ariel was never herself on the YouTube Channel — she was only the “wife” or “mom.”
John Mulaney, on the other hand, wrote bits about his wife’s witty comebacks and profited off them by mere association with her.
Adam Levine wrote a song about supporting women and put his wife and daughter in the music video which garnered over 3.3 billion views.
The underlying current in all these examples is that the Wife Guys are not the focus of their content; their wives are. Wife Guys love what their wives provide for them.
Whether it be power, money or status, Wife Guys exploit their wives for the betterment of their own careers.
When that power dynamic becomes the status quo, it is unsurprising that when Wife Guys cannot profit off their significant others, they seek out other validation.
Ned Fulmer’s legacy is now one of fakeness and infidelity. His life has been defined for him by the internet, for better or for worse.
Now the question becomes this: did Ned Fulmer ever truly define his existence by loving his wife?
Or did he love that she made him loveable?