Poking around social media on Sunday morning, as one does, I came across some comments that Olivia Munn had untagged John Mulaney in her Instagram photos (not videos). She still follows him and vice versa.
Whether or not he was definitely tagged in the first place, I cannot personally confirm but I do know that his fans watch him like a hawk and by extension also watch Olivia. This is not the same way Taylor Swift fans watch for Easter eggs. Many of John’s fans are watching for signs that he is still the internet boyfriend they fell in love with, the one happily married to their proxy and humble enough to welcome their attention. This fandom is the reason “parasocial relationship” is a phrase that is now commonly used in pop culture. The end of his marriage, rehab stay, and birth of his child set off a tailspin of grief for various reasons: to some, he was the gentle, funny boyfriend who betrayed them; Olivia is the gorgeous harlot who stole away their man and broke up a happy home; Anna Marie Tendler is the woman who put in the work and was abandoned. And we can’t blame teens or Tumblr because it is grown women who create and push these kinds of narratives (see: Meghan Markle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston).
John has spoken frequently and candidly about his addiction and relapse and even that is a tool to be used to justify their vitriol: to some, that means he’s a defenseless man who Olivia Munn preyed on in a vulnerable state. To others, he is a textbook toxic ex who strung along his “good” partner for years, only to shack up with a “pick me” rebound. It’s like the Madonna-whore complex, but instead of religious dogma it’s a guy in skinny slacks and a plaid shirt.
So, as you can imagine, the conversation around Oliva’s alleged untagging is borderline unhinged. “How you get em is how you lose em” is being thrown around with glee even though no one knows if John cheated on his wife with Olivia. And frankly, that’s assuming that John is the “get” in this relationship. That HE is the one who is the catch. That he was the one who was forcefully pried away from his marriage, which seems a simplified interpretation considering he was in the throes of a serious cocaine relapse.
These high-strung fan emotions are bad for gossip because it’s always a “worst case scenario” conclusion based off of the skimpiest evidence. Like the untagging might be something but immediately jumping to a breakup is a reach and Olivia proved that by posting in her Stories last night.
If there is anything going on in this relationship, it goes deeper than the smug commenters can imagine. Sure they might be broken up - they are human! - but they are a family (not even going to get into the idea that a grown man was baby trapped at the grown age of 39). The more attention the fandom gets (even when we scoff at them), the more justified and validated they feel in digging in. It’s a Twitter pastime to gawk at and mock the most unhinged, aggrieved opinions but by writing about the discourse, even I am contributing to the sludge. The gossip ecosystem is contaminated and needs a warning sign. If you see the following words - “thread’/ “predatory”/ “homewrecker”/ “she was obsessed” /“red flags” - mentioned in the comments, keep out of the water.
Attached - John in conversation with Fred Armisen at 92NY last week.