The recent third episode of HBO’s Euphoria focused on a character named Kat, who wrote explicit fanfiction about One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles—this episode also featured an animated sequence in which anime-esque versions of Tomlinson and Styles engage in oral sex. But did either of them know it was coming?
“I can categorically say that I was not contacted nor did I approve it,” Tomlinson tweeted in response to a fan’s question about the scene.
The episode itself dives into the origin story of Kat, a teen girl who writes smutty fanfiction as a form of romantic escapism. She’s not particularly popular in the real world, but online she has a massive following and is credited for kickstarting the Larry Stylinson conspiracy theory thanks to her NC-17 fanfiction about Styles and Tomlinson having sex backstage to release some pre-concert jitters.
The animated sequence was—at a push—moderately explicit, but the shock factor was largely rooted in who it depicted rather than the actual visuals.
As the Larry Stylinson conspiracy theory grew in popularity in the real world, Styles and Tomlinson were increasingly pressured to address it. Rabid Larry shippers overanalyzed every interaction between the two and manipulated photos, the most deluded of the bunch going so far as to make an enemy of Tomlinson’s girlfriend at the time. Tomlinson has always been the most vocal about his denial and disdain for the bogus fan pairing, claiming it negatively impacted his friendship with Styles and put pressure on his romantic relationship.
Barbie Ferreira, who plays Kat, told The Hollywood Reporter that she related to the warped fantasies that so many teens project onto their favorite celebrities.
“You completely give yourself to this persona of a person you don’t even know, or five guys, and imaging the way they interact the escaping from your own reality,” said Ferreira. “It’s really interesting to me because I was definitely a part of that, where I wanted to escape my own life and focus on others because it was easier and felt more meaningful.”
While Euphoria might have angered some dormant One Direction fans, the show’s approach to Larry Stylinson was that of pure fannish nonsense, emphasizing that it’s all a silly conspiracy theory unworthy of serious analyzation. The scene said more about the creative endeavors of lonely teen girls than anything else.