5 Takeaways From Watching “WHO TF DID I MARRY?”

Yesterday, I cleaned my basement. For most of my winter cleaning sprees, I’ve been listening to nu-metal (for the Woodstock 99 WIP), but this cleaning session had me absolutely gripped by the viral, “Who TF Did I Marry?” series on TikTok. I try my best not to sink too much time on TikTok drama, but then Pearlmania500 recommended I watch the series. I put it on the backburner for a few days, but when I cleaned my basement, it provided the perfect soundtrack. I was enthralled.

For anyone not terminally online, “Who TF Did I Marry?” is a testimonial of “Reesa Teesa” (her TikTok username, not her real name), a black American woman from Georgia, who met, married, and divorced a pathological liar during the pandemic. It’s 52 parts long. Each part is about 10 minutes long. It’s captivating and bingeable 8+ hours of pure drama. It’s everything that Quibi wanted to be.

As a person who went through a post-Gone Girl domestic psychological thriller phase, who was often disappointed by the lacklustre plots and cardboard characters of subsequent psychological thrillers, and the author of an unpublished domestic thriller of my own, I was captivated. “Who TF Did I Marry?” is some IRL gothic horror. There was the villain love interest, the fast-paced relationship, a foreboding setting, and of course, a naive heroine who ignores the foreboding warnings, yet claws her way through it all.

There’s power in confession.

Many have called Reesa Teesa stupid for not seeing the parade of red flags that was “Legion” (her husband’s nickname in the series). I understand the instinct people have to call her stupid, but I do have to ask myself, if I were in her shoes, would I have found myself in the same predicament?

Reesa Teesa isn’t a slasher movie victim climbing the stairs instead of going outside. She’s a human being. It’s a story full of nuances, which I why I feel that people are so enthralled. Having watched the series, I have better insight, more empathy, and better understanding.

Good storytelling can change people.

The Power of Storytelling

“Who TF Did I Marry?” might be a captivating story, but Reesa Teesa isn’t a book character who was living “a perfect life until Legion walked into it…” She’s a regular woman living paycheck to paycheck, a woman who wants to own a house, move to a better city, get married, have a nice car, have a kid. It’s the standard American Dream formula, most of which is becoming more of a pipe dream than any sort of feasible reality. She explains her choices, her reasons, her trauma.

Everyone is already talking about a TV adaptation, which I can admit would be cool, but I still stand firm by the idea that truth is stranger than fiction. There’s something in testimony and in the vulnerability that she put herself through to sit in front of a camera.

There’s power in confession.

You see the way she hesitates, the way her voice shakes, the way she sometimes laugh to deflect the ugliness that would come out otherwise. Watching the series is a very intimate experience, and Reesa Teesa is brave for doing it, especially now that the series has gone viral and she’s found herself in the limelight. I’m sure a part of her felt the need to do it. She had to let it out so she could shed the burden of carrying it. Stories are for healing.

The Vulnerability of Isolation

We live in a society with little space for human interaction. We’re all busy working like there’s no weekend. Everything can be done online. We order food, goods, and services through a screen. We meet people through handpicked profile photos and carefully-written bios that cut through the bullshit. Algorithms match people based on these curated similarities. Connection happens through a screen. We all do our part in this, portraying out lives online in a way that our innermost selves are impossible to know.

People are lonelier than ever before, and so I can understand why many who meet a spouse via dating apps eagerly skip the cheesy courtship stuff, the small talk, the emotional intimacy. Marriage always seems like this finish line, and the sooner you get there, the sooner your life can properly begin.

I internalized the idea of my Happily Ever After coming prepackaged with a man.

I was extremely fortunate to find my husband in college, but I’ve got single friends, divorced friends trying to find love again. The internet is chock full of people’s horrible online dating experiences. It doesn’t sound fun at all, and so I can see how somebody would get themselves into a mental state of “Fuck it, this guy seems like a nice guy…” and just marry him. Especially if he lays it all out on the first date. Sometimes the need to fulfill a dream is that strong.

The Covid pandemic had a major impact on lonliness. Lockdowns were hard on everyone, and while I had a tough time surviving the early days of covid as a mom of young children, I also understand that going through that time alone would have been so much darker. If I were Reesa Teesa, I’d have quarantined with Legion, too.

A promise of comfort can be nice in times of dread.

The Naive Desires of Women

Every millennial woman had a favourite Disney Princess movie. Mine was Beauty and the Beast. Each princess had her own problem, but the solution always came in the form of a man. Whether or not I wanted to absorb that message, I internalized the idea of my Happily Ever After coming prepackaged with a man.

I also internalized the value of protecting myself as a women. I had to protect myself from everything. From men. From failure. From being taken advantage of. From being seen as bitchy. From being ugly. From being unwanted. From shame. I had to have this gut instinct against any form of danger, but I also had to be naive and quiet and small.

Sometimes, the only way to protect myself from any insecurity, any anxiety, any flaw I found with myself, well, it came in finding a man. Having a man meant freedom, quite honestly.

The thing that struck me most about “Who TF Did I Marry?” was how Reesa Teesa was able to express this experience without shame. She straight up says that not having to worry about paying her rent was “intoxicating”. She talks about the joy of looking at beautiful houses, driving fancy cars, the promise of a trip to London.

Many women now understand that love bombing is a clear red flag. I’ve never experienced it. My husband was the first and only guy I dated, and he’s always been a sensible guy who was never able to take me on fancy trips or buy me expensive things. Being pampered always makes me feel weird, and travelling anywhere stresses me out. We recently bought a rowing machine, though. My husband paid for it. I was excited. (I cleaned the basement to make room for it, hence this post.)

I understand how intoxicating freedom is.

Reesa Teesa was led to believe that Legion was a VP at a condiment company. He showed her a photocopy of his Chase bank account. He told he had money from a previous career in arena football. He told her he had offshore bank accounts. She explains that she was naive. She didn’t know how offshore bank accounts worked, or how to buy a house. Legion had an explanation for everything. Again, sure, this in itself is a red flag, but she uses the word “intoxicating”, and I believe her.

At this point in my life, I’m mostly a stay-at-home mom. I work an occasional shift and I pay some of the bills, but most of my life is covered by my husband’s income. I’m fully aware that my situation is privileged af, considering that most couples need to work full time to just afford rent and groceries and bills.

I have the luxury of writing blog posts in my free time. I understand how intoxicating freedom is.

The Power of Religion

Another thing I identified with was Reesa Teesa’s religious upbringing. She comes from a Christian background, and often mentions how aspects of her African American culture affect her actions. All of the Christian stuff she mentions in her story resonated heavily with me.

I grew up Christian. I still am Christian, albeit one who was alienated enough by my upbringing to deconstruct my faith in a empathic and progressive way. Reesa Teesa mentions shame at shacking up with Legion during the lockdown. She mentions fear at being pregnant outside of marriage. Fearing judgement, she doesn’t discuss her new relationship with her family. Despite this, her mother worries. Her mother prays for her.

In the aftermath, Reesa Teesa finds renewal in her faith. Some might take issue with this, as Christianity in the western world isn’t usually viewed upon as a positive thing. I understand this, but I also resonate with Reesa Teesa’s upbringing, and I’m glad that she was able to utilize her faith in God for perspective, and untimely, for healing.

Even her ex’s nickname, “Legion” comes from a Bible story wherein Jesus encounters and heals a demon-possessed man. The demon identifies himself as “Legion, for we are many.” It’s a fantastic nickname, full of analysis and insight, as the latter parts of the series Reesa Teesa attempts to look into the all the personal demons her ex-husband must have.

The Insecurities of Men

One of my favourite subjects ever is male insecurity. “Who TF Did I Marry?” doesn’t directly touch on any of these issues. She finally gets her divorce. She never sees Legion again, but is left to answer all the unanswered questions.

She didn’t know him at all.

I’ve known pathological liars. They’re not all vindictive and narcissistic. I believe compulsive lying is a coping mechanism for severe insecurity. Men have an ability to do this easily.

I feel like some men haven an innate need to feel masculine and often end up doing the whole “loverboy approach” when it comes to attracting women. I don’t mean to say that they’re using this approach in an Andrew Tate way. Strongly adhering to masculine stereotypes, however, is the easiest way to prey on that subconscious female need to get a man. Men develop personalities around being strong, wealthy, a man of high status. They want to be the head of the household. They want to be a provider, a caretaker, a protector.

At this point in history, connections become less and less human.

To me, Legion utilized these stereotypes simply to satiate his insecurities. He wasn’t to appear that he was all those things to somebody. Reesa Teesa even admits to believing that he didn’t respect her. He got off on the idea that he could fool her into thinking that he loved her. It made him feel good.

All of this question tangles into the larger web of modern day male ideology, and that’s a subject much bigger than this blog post. Anyone interested can check out this video from political commentator, Vaush, who seems to be one of the only people online who discusses men’s issues in an insightful way. We need to assess without all that white feminist reactionary “fuck all men” discourse. I know this a touchy subject for a lot of people, but it needs to happen before things get worse.

Wrapping It All Up

“Who TF Did I Marry?” isn’t a new story. Deceptive relationships have happened before and will continue to happen. I appreciate this particular interview with Benita Alexander, former girlfriend of Paolo Macchiarini, whose misdeeds were heavily profiled in Netflix’s Bad Surgeon miniseries. In that story, Benita was a journalist and Paolo was a groundbreaking miracle surgeon. “Who TF Did I Marry?”, however, is refreshing, simply because Reesa Teesa is a regular person. A TikTok user. She’s woman with plenty of dreams.

She explains that the only reason she did the series was to potentially help other people in similar situations, and I admire her for doing it. At this point in history, connections become less and less human. “Who TF Did I Marry?” is honestly the most human thing I’ve ever seen online. She doesn’t have any points to make, just an experience to share. She sheds light on the aftermath, her process of healing. She admits that she’s been changed. She lets herself be 100% vulnerable, which is something that is so rare to see online in this day and age. I think we all need a little more of that.

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