Who is 'Couch Guy'? The red-flagged relationship that's taken over TikTok

If you're a user of social media app TikTok, you're probably one of the 48,000,000 views of one the most viral videos TikTok has ever seen, and this explainer is not for you. 

But if you're in the dark when it comes to the series of internet memes and commentary over 'Couch Guy', let me fill you in and explain the history behind a video that has consumed my waking thoughts for over a week. 

'Couch Guy' - real name Robbie - is the long-distance boyfriend of TikTok user @laurenzarras, who posted a 'romantic' clip of the moment she surprised him while he was away at college - a common trend on the video-sharing app. 

While Lauren thought the adorable moment was worth sharing, it appears viewers didn't agree. According to the general consensus, Robbie didn't react to the surprise visit with the appropriate levels of excitement, and rather seemed thrown for an absolute loop while sitting stunned on the couch. 

His reaction - and the fact he was sitting on the couch with three other women at the time - has stirred up commenters on TikTok, prompting hundreds of thousands of people to pick apart the video: Slowing it down, analysing body language, examining each main and supporting character, and eventually, posting their own satire. 

According to the app full of amateur detectives and body language experts (of which I've become one) there are several 'red flags' in the video that did not sit right, even though Lauren and her boyfriend have played down some of the wildest claims in follow-up clips. 

Some key moments in the 'Couch Guy' video to note are:  

  • The friends all appear to be laughing as Lauren enters the room, less in a 'this is such a cute moment!' way, and more of a 'you are absolutely SPRUNG son and this is very uncomfortable' kind of way
  • According to many slowed down replays, it appears that the young woman next to Lauren's boyfriend pulls her hand off his lower back as his girlfriend enters the room, and immediately moves to sit further away from him
  • Some TikTok sleuths also note that it looks like she hurriedly hands him back his phone
  • While Lauren goes for the kiss hello, Robbie turns it into a hug and immediately makes loaded eye contact with his (still laughing) friends
  • The third girl (known to many of us as 'hoodie girl') sitting on the end of the couch doesn't look up to say hello to Lauren at all, but instead IMMEDIATELY gets on her phone in a way that just screams 'RED ALERT' message in the group chat

Of course, much of the discourse is around the alleged uncomfortable 'vibe' of the video which is hard to quantify, but a viewer can come to their own conclusions. 

The original video has racked up over 48 million views at the time of publishing, with almost 100,000 comments chiming in and trying to alert Lauren to the 'red flags'. 

For many, it seems to be based on parts of the video that reminded them of moments in their own previous relationships. 

"Maybe I'm interpreting this wrong, but if 27 million people agree something is going on then I don't know what else to tell you bestie," one person wrote. 

"One day you'll look back and understand what everyone is saying. We don't want to hurt you, we've just been there," another wrote 

"I'm honestly trying to be supportive but the more I watch it," another offered. 

The intense internet reaction led to Lauren defending her boyfriend and relationship in the comments

"Breaks my heart that people can watch a special moment and bring so much negativity," she wrote. 

"Please think before you assume anything about my relationship. 

"As for the phone [it] was in his lap. Thanks for the concerns though! And no, I'm not in denial." 

Sadly for Lauren, the video has spawned a whole host of'#couchguy parody clips; some mean, some hilarious. 

But of course, it being TikTok, a new trend will probably emerge tomorrow and Lauren and her boyfriend can move on in peace. 

I would pay a lot of money to know exactly what hoodie girl was writing on her phone, though.