I will be honest with you, fair reader, and admit I originally wrote off What Would Diplo Do with immediate haste. After all of that weird drama with Lorde in 2014, I essentially wrote off Diplo The Person entirely (although I will fight anyone who denies “Cold Water” is a banger). Without an explainer, the brand new Viceland comedy also sounds like a docuseries about a DJ who once wanted to start a fund to get Taylor Swift “a booty” and makes memes of himself. I don’t want that. No one wants that. Then I realized WWDD is actually a self-aware parody of Diplo’s most eye roll-worthy tendencies, executive produced by the beatmaker and starring the criminally underrated James Van Der Beek as “Diplo.” That is how I came to find out the premiere of Diplo, pilot episode “The Beef,” gave viewers an absolutely perfect Hiddleswift joke.
The specter of Taylor Swift hangs over the series premiere from the jump. The former #Squad leader is so existentially present, the title card first reads “What Would Taylor Swift [Do]” before swiping through a list of celebrity names, finally settling on What Would Diplo Do. Viewers are repeatedly tangentially reminded of the “Blank Space” singer when Van Der Beek’s Diplo gets into a Twitter feud with a fictionalized version of Swift’s ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris (played by British actor Tom Stourton). While watching the deejays swipe at each other via emojis, it’s impossible not to consider two separate real-life social media feuds involving Harris and Swift: the DJ’s regrettable July 2016 Twitter meltdown over the news Swift wrote his hit Rihanna-led “This Is What You Came For,” and Swift's complete Snapchat dragging by Kim Kardashian over Kanye West’s song “Famous.” Both Internet kerfuffles had the same kind of fire Diplo and Calvin’s WWDD feud has. The only difference is, where the real-life arguments were pretty personal, What Would Diplo’s tension is all about The Music, man.
This 140-characters-or-less spat is how our “righteous dick” of a hero and “Calvin Harris” end up with a great Hiddleswift joke. The musicians have a backstage détente over “yerbas,” and wax poetic about their personal raison d'etres, their differences, and their status as “shamanic healers offering glimpses of enlightenment through music,” as Calvin puts it. After both halves of the duo agree that this description of themselves is definitely true and not at all self-aggrandizing hogwash, they’ve officially buried the hatchet. To celebrate, Diplo asks Calvin, “What’s lamer than a DJ at war?” They go back and forth, listing, “a moped race,” “a Vine party,” “two folk musicians arm wrestling,” “The VMAs,” “people who dress up like Neo from The Matrix every fucking Halloween,” and “people who dress up like The Crow.” But, you know what rejected Taylor Swift lover Calvin says is lamer than all that? “Tom Hiddleston.”
Interestingly, the scene doesn’t cut right after the Hiddleston dig, and instead adds a fun new layer to the Swift romance drama. “No, he’s a friend of mine,” adds Calvin of the fellow Swift ex-boyfriend. Does this mean there is a secret support group of men who have experienced the tabloid storm that is a Taylor Swift breakup? Do they eat their feelings in bolognese together? Or, is this a hint the entire Hiddleswift madness, including Harris’ many, many tweets last summer, was all a publicity stunt among clandestine pals? Diplo has admitted to knowing all of Taylor Swift’s “secrets,” telling GQ, “There's definitely scary stuff going on. And I'm scared. I'm scared for my life." While that revelation was shared in 2015, it’s possible Diplo, who does in fact hang out with fellow producer Harris from time to time, knows more about Hiddleswift than we ever will and is trying to spill the tea through his TV show.
Wild pop culture conspiracy theories aside, we can expect the ghost of Hiddleswift to leave What Would Diplo Do by the next episode, despite the eponymous producer's vague obsession with the Swift half of the former couple. Next week's episode, “Ur Game Ain't Shit” instead uses the faux pas and headline-making behaviors of Donald Trump for inspiration, as its title card hints. That is one thing I wouldn't call, "Sad!"
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