“You not having fun” TikToks are making space for our post-pandemic malaise

We, the people, are disappointed.

Eddy Chen / HBO
When Life Imitates Art

One of the best things about pandemic life was looking forward to all the things we were going to do after the pandemic. The unfortunate reality is that — just like there was no official starting point for our pandemic frustrations — there’s also no set end date (even though our Public Health Papi has declared COVID endemic in the U.S.).

Still, the ups and downs have clearly been getting to us. Op-eds and pop psychologists say we’re languishing. That sounds legit, and also, let's be honest, post-pandemic life can just be kind of disappointing. The Euphoria-inspired "You not having fun" trend on TikTok perfectly embodies how secretly unimpressed we all are right now.

A quick recap: In the fourth episode of Euphoria season one, Maddy and Cassie are at a carnival. The stage is set for everyone to have fun — it’s a literal carnival — but no one is feeling it. As we know, life in the lives of ridiculously hot and delightfully bejeweled teens is complicated. “You not having fun?” Maddy asks Cassie. “No,” says Cassie. “Me neither,” Maddy admits. Then Maddy asks Cassie if she wants to do molly. Cue drama.

But it really doesn’t matter what happened next. What matters is that this sparkly small screen gem lays out something we’ve all felt at some point in our post-pandemic lives. We thought life after COVID was going to be a carnival of fun and games — it’s not, and we’re soul-suckingly disappointed. We need relief. For me right now, that relief is being delivered in the form of “You not having fun” TikToks.

The most popular TikTok in this vein also takes place at an actual carnival and the TokTokers who made it are also absurdly attractive young femmes, just like on Euphoria. While I feel like they were probably just making a quick ode to a show we miss, for me it lands as immense validation.

It’s not just me. Young, hot people in fancy clothes at fun places are also struggling to have fun right now. Thank you, very hot people, for making me feel seen.

Of course, a lot of people used this clip to make TikToks about being stuck in quarantine. Mattsita, a TikToker in California, even got his dad involved. For the record, the clip ends before his dad says yes to drugs.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out all the folks who repurposed this conversation for their pets. No one wants to take drugs with their dogs — I think? — but everyone who lives with animals can definitely relate to the feeling of looking to them when life is feeling lackluster.

My favorite version of “You not having fun” is a simple vid that uses the clip to explain the friendship between air signs and water signs. If you’re an astrology nerd like me, I probably don’t need to explain the value of an air sign friend who swoops in with the remedy you need in your low moments. After I watched it, I actually scoped out my air sign friends on an astrology app to connect. I don’t wanna do molly, but I do wanna know if one of my air sign friends has a breath of fresh air to waft my way.

Since this episode aired almost three years ago, you might think that folks would have forgotten about it. Not a chance. Like so much wisdom we receive, we didn’t understand it until we needed it, and the sound — called “Wanna do molly” — didn’t start trending on TikTok until late last year, about the time we started to realize that post-pandemic was probably not going to be a joyous social justice orgy.

Look, I know all of this may sound a bit cynical, but it’s really not. Irony that lays bare the depths of our disillusionment and makes us laugh at it all helps us cope. And if there’s anything we need now more than ever, it’s the relief that levity brings. And if that humor comes pop-culturally packaged in rhinestone eye looks and sardonic wit, bring it on.