The Try Guys’ new book is a stellar example of the parasocial relationship in action


There’s something great about messing up, argue the Try Guys in their new book. After reading it, it’s hard not to believe them.

Let us set aside the jokes about the Try Guys trying to produce a bestseller and translate their knack for hilarious, yet insightful, videos into the physical space. The Hidden Power of F*cking Up is out today. As its title suggests, it’s about how success doesn’t always look like success — there is something valuable about not succeeding, even if it might not feel like it at the time.

Even if I’m probably not going to take some of the advice provided in the book, it’s not that I didn’t want to do it so much as it’s not right for where I am right now. And honestly, the biggest advice in the book is just to jump right in with whatever thing you’re a bit scared of trying.

I can confirm, however, that I’ve started taking brief walks after lunch, and it is actually really great. Thanks, Try Guys.

All of this caused me to ask a question, though: Why do I believe the Try Guys? Why do I find their advice so much more interesting and potentially valuable when I’d probably laugh and set most books like this aside? Well, part of it is that I “know” the Try Guys, inasmuch as anyone can know four dudes who have been on the internet making videos since 2014 — first for BuzzFeed, now on their own channel.

And when the first video they ever made involved stripping down and trying women’s underwear, there’s an innate vulnerability — and, dare we say, authenticity — that connects with people, this writer included. They’ve talked about health issues, sexuality, family, and more in these videos. They also wear crop tops sometimes, like you do.

This is what we’d call a parasocial relationship. The Try Guys, as I write this, don’t know I exist. They might, if they read this, which is vaguely terrifying in its own right, since I’m writing this about their book and was contacted by their publishing house to consider it for coverage. (Hi, guys! Big fan.)

But because I and others like me have spent years watching them, the disclosures contained within the book hit like they would from a real-space friend, and so the advice does too. Full disclosure: I’m subscribed to their channel, but not a patron on Patreon.

From Eugene working on family relationships to Ned trying not to look quite as much like a dad to Keith changing his diet and Zach working on love, these are things we’ve heard about in videos before, because the Try Guys have tried things like this before. It’s a natural evolution, rather than a hard right turn, and that should also help fans be more open to reading the book and absorbing the points contained within.

Part of that same initial receptivity comes from the fact that the book is still funny. From the photos accompanying each chapter to the asides and interruptions from the other guys during one guy’s narration, there’s a wit and familiarity about it all. There are also consultations and advice from actual professionals in the book, something else brought over from many of their videos.

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“And welcome to the club,” the epilogue finishes. This book is an excellent example of how to move into a new space without making that space feel new to your fans, and it’s also just a great read.