You don’t need me to tell you that the past few years have been taxing. From COVID rearing its head to skyrocketing inflation to increasing rates of loneliness and feelings of disconnect, it’s been tough to feel real unity among us, even as we all experience these hardships together. Another thing we all have in common, though, is our access to media — but feel-good stories about cute animals becoming friends and 90-year-olds giving dating advice aren’t what’s been getting me through this era of bad news. It’s hot celebrity gossip. And when that hot gossip is the unlikely pairing of Kylie Jenner and Timothée Chalamet hard launching at a Beyoncé concert? I’m sitting front row, elbow deep in popcorn and ready for the show.
The rumors of Kylie Jenner and Timothée Chalamet’s romance have been swirling since April, when her Range Rover was spotted parked at his home in Beverly Hills. Fans of both figures have expressed disbelief in the unconventional couple being “real” because of their allegedly competing aesthetics: Timmy as the deep, introspective cinephile and Kylie as the mainstream, girly makeup lover. This argument insinuates that Kylie is, to put it into words, too dumb for the Oscar-nominated actor, which feels like a misogynistic slap in the face to her and other women like her. Although I’m someone who is entertained by the inner workings of the Kardashian family, I don’t consider myself a fan — but I feel defensive over Kylie in this particular moment. Makeup doesn’t equal dumb, movies don’t equal smart, and people are allowed to be attracted to whoever they want, even if the public doesn’t think that the math is mathing.
While we don’t know the exact extent of their relationship — Has he met Stormi baby? Are they in love? Has she heard him rap? — we have seen them kiss and canoodle IRL, and it’s fun to indulge ourselves in the could bes and what ifs of their budding romance. Allowing us a glimpse into their private lives in such innocent spaces — a concert, a sporting event — makes this relationship somehow feel more real and endearing than the usual calculated celeb pap shots. And the pair is actually cute together. The kiss from behind while Beyoncé sings her heart out? The hair ruffle and neck clutching combo at a tennis match? It’s like seeing a rom com play out IRL, and I’m the first one to admit that I’ve been charmed by the unlikely lovers trope in this unfolding saga.
Having universally known, low-stakes drama to gossip about isn’t just entertaining — it brings people together. It’s kind of like when someone you know starts soft-launching a new partner and you take it to the group chat to investigate who, exactly, they’re seeing, and when it all began. You all have your own hypothesis, and you share in the delight of not really knowing together. But instead of a random person from your hometown, it’s two of the biggest stars of our generation, and the group chat has expanded from your circle of friends to the entire world. Up against the stark contrast of the Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner divorce story and the musings that "love is dead," this new relationship feels innocent, playful, and casual, and they’re giving us a show. Kissing at Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour, snacking on chicken nuggets at the US Open, and sitting together at fashion week events are enough fodder to keep our universal group chat fed.
For young people, this isn’t like seeing George and Amal Clooney falling in love or hearing rumors of Taylor Swift and Matty Healy hooking up — we’ve grown up alongside Kylie and Timmy, followed them since the beginning of social media, felt like they were our peers, and watched them in their journey to stardom. There’s a certain sense of relatability that comes with being the same age as the subjects of our gossip, and these two feel accessible to us in this era of the internet (for those who followed Kylie on Snapchat during her heyday on the app, you get it). And although it may feel like they’re on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to aesthetics and what we believe they should be attracted to in a partner, they’re really just two people having fun. And what’s more endearing than that?
Some of the responses to their romance have been disappointing, and there has been vitriol directed at Kylie floating around from Timmy fan accounts and other corners of the internet. While we can enjoy the Tylie show from the safety of our screens, it’s important to remember that we do not know these people. Repeat: we do not know these people. The parasocial relationship that we have with them can be fun for gossiping with our friends and following along, sure, but remembering that they are just people and people contain multitudes — many of which are not privy to us, the public — remains an important factor in fandom.
What we get from a celebrity isn’t who they really are — it’s their persona, which is created by both us, the audience, and them, the figure. And someone simply being famous and happy in love is not an excuse for them to be on the receiving end of harsh criticism, whether you think their persona deserves it or not. Being a fan is one thing, but being a menace online is something that’s different entirely, and if you find yourself filled with rage at the expense of celebrity's alleged happiness, I urge you to look within — or, at least, get off your phone.
At the end of the day, these are two very hot, very rich people — and trust me, the billionaire aspect of it all is a different story for a different day — and we love to indulge ourselves in the inner workings of their lives because, well, it’s fun. And even if this relationship is short-lived or a ploy for some PR or even something they’ll look back on as a mistake, who cares. They don’t seem to mind, and my group chat doesn’t either.