Are “Wife Guys” Nice Guys?


D-list celebrities always seem to top the charts when they become unfaithful. Ned Fulmer, a somewhat famous internet personality, has gone viral. Most people were previously unaware of him or his previous profession as a member of the Try Guys, a youtube channel where guys try things. However, when Twitter exposed his cheating scandal, he immediately jumped into the spotlight. As there is no shortage of celebrity notes app apologies for adultery, what specifically about Ned has caused such a fuss? 

Ned’s cheating came as a shock because of his internet label as a “Wife Guy,” or a man who shapes his entire personal brand around his devotion to his wife. Previous notable examples include John Mulaney and Adam Levine. As a primary example of this archetype, Ned’s entire internet personality depended on a dynamic in which he was idolized as an example of the “perfect husband.”  It was unbelievable for many fans when Ned admitted to “[losing] focus and [having] a consensual workplace relationship” that had been going on for quite a while. 

Ned is now an ex-TryGuy, but he is not an ex-husband. Ariel (Ned’s wife) has told reporters that the couple is “working on working things out.” The scandal has ruined his public reputation, but his private life apparently contains some possibility of repair. The real issue with Ned is that his cheating alludes to his online adoration being a facade. He used his platform to paint himself as the perfect partner, even when his relationship was not enough for his small, manly ego. Fans adored him because they wanted to be with someone like him. Furthermore, the scandal goes beyond marital infidelity, as Ned was the boss of Alexandra Herring, the woman with whom he had the affair, meaning that there was an extremely problematic power dynamic at play. Ned set himself up as an example of the type of man to look for, but after this behavior, his love and character seem to have been a lie. 

The concept of the “Wife Guy” is an extension of the “Nice Guy,” a title that has been trashed across social media for years. Nice Guys weaponize their lack of apathy to portray themselves as someone deserving of a relationship. Wife Guys use their successful relationships to portray themselves as a “better man.” The Try Guys brand focused on being “nice guys,” which was influenced by the presence of the guys’ partners. Ariel was a member of multiple Try Guys sub-channels, which prompts the question: why are the wives and partners included? Because their presence portrays the men in a non-threatening way. We see how healthy their relationships are, so they have to be nice guys, right? 

After Ned’s behavior was brought to light, the other Try Guys posted a video that was an incredibly dramatic representation of lost friendship. However, they have allegedly known and witnessed Ned’s behavior for years, and have received over 15 million views on their (monetized) videos about the scandal. This is their career; no matter how hurt they are, they are profiting. 

Their video inspired an SNL skit that caused furious backlash from fans, who said that the sketch was just poking fun at men who hold others accountable. The skit illustrated the remaining three Try Guys as overdramatic men who were taking a small thing out of proportion. However, Ned’s cheating is no small thing, having created a landslide of conversation that is changing the way male celebrities are viewed online and the amount of trust people have in their partners. The champion of  “nice guys” has been proved to be just another cheater, allowing the world to truly understand the problems with the title “Wife Guy.”

The Wife Guy archetype seems comical at first, a humorous way to label husbands who just love their wives. However, when we focus on why this stereotype exists, it is apparent that this is another example of blatant misogyny in heterosexual matrimony. The wife guy only exists because of the low bar for men in relationships, where doing the bare minimum earns praise. A man publicly posts his love for his wife or watches his kids instead of just “babysitting,” and suddenly, he is a dream. He expects to be congratulated and monetarily rewarded for being such a good husband. He uses his devotion to his wife for his gain and fame. And though his love for her is evident online, it speaks more for his love of himself.