The internet rarely (see: never) agrees on something, but the Couch Guy TikTok drama might be the exception. When 20-year-old Purdue University student Lauren Zarras (Couch Guy’s girlfriend) posted a video of herself surprising her long-distance boyfriend Robbie McCoy (Couch Guy) at the University of Virginia on Sept. 21, all of TikTok felt like something was off about the video. Well, all of TikTok except for Lauren and Robbie.
Lauren posted the video with a sweet, non-assuming caption, “robbie had no idea,” and added Ellie Goulding’s “Falling For You” to the background. It should have been just one of the many romantic surprise videos on TikTok — albeit a more awkward version — but it wasn’t. The video took over the TikTok algorithm, accumulating over 4.5 million likes, 115,000 comments, and 339,000 shares by the time of this story’s publication. It didn’t take long for people to start chiming in with their opinions on the sitch. (Content warning: This story describes bullying, including a reference to suicide.)
Unfortunately for Lauren and Robbie, their moment didn’t go viral for being an adorable surprise — more like the opposite. In a surprisingly unanimous moment, TikTok seemed to agree that Lauren’s visit did not outwardly appear to be a welcome one.
A quick breakdown: In the video, Robbie is sitting on the couch with three other girls, one of whom might have had a hand on his back (it’s unclear). His roommates and friends, the four non-couch guys in the video, who helped Lauren plan the surprise, are the ones to let her in — and they can’t stop laughing. When Robbie spots Lauren, he doesn’t get up right away, but leans forward and seems to grab his phone from the girl sitting next to him.
Comments on the TikTok were... harsh. (And that’s the least harsh way to put it.) One TikToker wrote, “He hugged her like she was his aunt at Christmas dinner.” Another commented, “The girls look sus, the boys look amused, the boyfriend looks scared. Sis... please ask questions.” Another speculated, “Girls know vibes of other girls... We ALL GOT THE SAME FEELING, sorry you don’t want to see it. His boys and those girls know.”
There were also plenty of comments referring to their future breakup as inevitable. One wrote, “I’ll update y’all when they break up.” 👀
In response to the criticism, Lauren pinned her own comment: “breaks my heart that people can watch a special moment and bring so much negativity. please think before you assume anything about my relationship.”
And with that, TikTok quickly went from supporting her to dragging her. One TikToker wrote, “home girl fighting for her LIFE in these comments.” (By the way, kudos to Lauren for leaving the comments on and the video up through all of this.) But the critics didn’t keep their opinions limited to Lauren’s comment section. Soon, everyone’s FYP was flooded with Couch Guy re-enactments and in-depth video analyses.
The Couch Guy Remakes
The Couch Guy TikTok controversy sparked a wave of exaggerated, awkward re-enactment videos. All set to the same upbeat music, these videos became this fall’s big TikTok trend. The hashtag #couchguy now has 547.8 million views on TikTok.
Not to mention, plenty of these re-enactments mocked Lauren’s pinned comment about how it “breaks [her] heart that people can watch a special moment and bring so much negativity.” (I told you they were harsh.)
Whether they were recreating the video with their pets or friends, one thing was clear: Couch Guy remakes had officially taken over TikTok, and that was only the half of it.
Couch Guy Detectives Share Their Theories
It didn’t take long for people to start really digging into the Couch Guy case. Some investigators found Lauren’s Instagram and pointed out that Robbie hadn’t been liking her posts — although one TikTok user defended Lauren and Robbie, writing, “...What is wrong with these comments, y’all really have trust issues and it shows.”
Others zoomed in on specific details in true FBI agent fashion, though their conclusions weren’t always correct. One sleuth said Robbie was wearing a hair tie on his wrist, but Lauren clarified that it was actually a magnetic bracelet she had given him.
These investigations have brought to light a whirlwind of ~findings~, but to summarize their theories: It looks like the girl to Robbie’s left is holding his phone, and she sneakily passes it back to him when he leans forward. (Lauren has insisted that his phone was on the couch, in between his legs.) It also looks like that same girl has her hand on Robbie’s back, but moves it away when Lauren enters the room. The girl on the other end of the couch has also sparked some theories. Viewers noticed that she starts typing rapidly when Lauren comes in and seems to be laughing (could she be sharing the tea with someone?).
Joshua Bassett Is (Somehow) Involved
In an ironic twist of TikTok fate, Joshua Bassett also commented on the situation. On Oct. 4, he posted a video about being “way too deep into Couch Guy TikTok.” Still, he was enjoying the way this controversy took over his FYP. “The weird thing about it is, like, I’ve seen at least a hundred remakes, and every single one is funny. Like they don’t get old,” he explained.
And it didn’t take long for people to remind him of his own Couch Guy roots. One fan replied to the video, “You are the original couch guy.” Another wrote, “When everyone’s done analyzing your relationship so you’re just happy to see someone else going through it.” Brutal.
Couch Guy Finally Speaks Out
Lauren has been staunchly defending her relationship from the get-go (her pinned comment is from Sept. 24), but Robbie, Couch Guy himself, only started commenting on the situation on Oct. 2. (Not a great look, all things considered.) In his response video, he wrote, “Not everything is true crime. Don’t be a parasocial creep. Go get some fresh air.” He captioned the video, “i love @laurenzarras, she’s the best.”
Still, TikTok wasn’t convinced or impressed. One TikToker replied, “the minimal effort put into defending her too.” Another wrote, “You can gaslight your girlfriend, you can’t gaslight all of TikTok.” (This prompted another ~interesting~ video from Robbie about gaslighting, where he seemed to put the accusation back on the commenter.)
Robbie’s roommate, the one laughing in the video, also put out a video on the Couch Guy drama on Sept. 30. In it, he explained, “So the first question on everyone’s mind is, ‘Is Robbie cheating on his girlfriend?’ And, obviously, the answer is no. The girl that Robbie is actually sitting next to, she has a boyfriend.”
He also said that the phone was always in Robbie’s lap and that the awkwardness is just because Robbie and Lauren hadn’t seen each other in two months. His roommate added, “You guys aren’t psychologists, OK. There’s literally no deeper meaning behind any of this.” (Am I the only one who thinks it’s odd that Couch Guy’s friend has a better defense than Couch Guy himself?)
Couch Guy’s Girlfriend Shares Her Side
Lauren is not letting TikTok take over her relationship. Since the original video was posted, she’s been active on the app, trying to clear up the rumors. In one video, she asked each of her family members what they thought of Robbie. (They all love him, BTW.) In another, she shared a video of their FaceTime and donut date for National Boyfriend Day. And, on Oct. 4, she shared that she would be selling Couch Guy t-shirts for $24.99 each. (The t-shirt, which features a cartoon sketch of Robbie on the grey couch was instantly mocked: “bestie the tshirt [sic] doesn’t make sense when it doesn’t have his 3 other gfs.”)
Lauren also went on Barstool’s Tea with Publyssity podcast to discuss the Couch Guy controversy and defend her relationship. She told host Alyssa Amoroso, “So it’s just crazy that there’s ... so many views, and also so many people have something to say about it. And, like, they’re so invested, and so many people are making re-enactments.”
Still, she’s not letting the criticism get to her. “I’m a really positive person, so that’s been helping me throughout the whole thing just because I know what happened, my boyfriend knows what happened, so I’m not going to listen to anybody cause we both know what actually happened.”
And, apparently, things are not what they seem. According to Lauren, Robbie’s roommates actually had to drag him out of his bedroom so he’d be in the right spot for the surprise, which could account for some of those awkward vibes. Plus, all of Robbie’s friends knew she was coming (yes, including the girls on the couch).
Lauren also gave some more background on their relationship. Couch Couple has been together for a little over a year, and they have been long-distance for a good chunk of that time. Although they haven’t been together for too long, they’ve been good friends since freshman year of high school. They’re sophomores in college now. Despite TikTok’s consensus, Lauren says she’s happy in her relationship.
People Are Calling Out The Couch Guy Bullies
Originally, people were pretty sympathetic to Lauren, if slightly condescending. Out of the over one hundred thousand comments on her video, many of them were women warning her about the dangers of being stuck “in denial.” But things shifted quickly when Lauren started defending her relationship. And what might have started as an attempt for girls to support girls became the exact opposite.
Victoria Hammett, a popular TikToker, commented on the situation with a video of her own. In it, she wrote, “Y’all went from ‘trying to help this girl out’ to being straight up [sic] misogynistic real quick.” And, in her comments section, she noted that Robbie was receiving less hate than Lauren. (And considering the hate stems from the theory that Robbie is cheating on Lauren, this makes no sense whatsoever.)
Not to mention, Lauren revealed on Tea with Publyssity that she had received hateful messages on TikTok and Instagram, and one person even told her to commit suicide. No matter what you think of Couch Guy or how funny you find the re-enactments, there’s definitely a line here that’s been crossed.
Still, it doesn’t seem like the reign of Couch Guy TikTok is even close to over. For every debunked theory, there are two more to take its place. And even if Lauren and Robbie aren’t letting the critics get to them, it’s a lot of hate. But no matter what TikTok’s verdict is, Couch Guy is still not sleeping on the couch.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. You can also reach out to the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, or to your local suicide crisis center.