Bear with me, this requires some backstory.
Back in March 2015, Justin Halpern, author of Sh*t My Dad Says and now the showrunner for the animated Harley Quinn series and an Emmy-losing writer/producer on Abbott Elementary, told a story on my podcast (the Frotcast) about hooking up with a girl in college who he thought was his girlfriend, only to be disabused of this notion when her real boyfriend showed up the following morning. As Halpern feigned sleep (“I figured no one would beat up an asleep guy”) he heard the boyfriend walk in, see him on the couch, and say “Oh nice. Real f*ckin’ nice,” as the guy broke into tears.
At which point the guy stormed back outside, jumped in his car (in my head he originally said it was a Jeep Wrangler, though he claims now it was a Tacoma), hit the ignition, and sped off as the sound of Papa Roach’s “Last Resort” blared through the open windows.
As a callback to this story (easiest to find at 3:21 of our Best of 2016 Frotcast), Halpern posted a Photoshopped NY Times article about Paul Ryan, inserting a fictional bit in which Ryan drives off listening to Papa Roach. That tweet went so viral (almost certainly because lots of people didn’t instantly recognize it as a fiction like Halpern’s followers would’ve) that it spawned write ups in Mashable and the Washington Post. Papa Roach even responded.
On April 23rd, 2017, HBO aired a Silicon Valley episode which had a scene in which the fictional dickhead billionaire Russ Hanneman, played brilliantly by Chris Diamantopoulos, drives off angrily to the sounds of Papa Roach’s “Last Resort.”
Buzzfeed turned that into a trend piece, explaining “how ‘Last Resort’ became the internet’s new favorite joke song.”
That piece spoke with Halpern and Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix, but never mentioned Halpern’s original story from the Frotcast, which annoyed me enough that I reached out to both sources at HBO and Papa Roach (journalism!) to confirm whether it was possible that an HBO writer could’ve heard the podcast before writing the joke into the show. Results were, as you might imagine, inconclusive.
And guess what? Now it’s back. On the season two premiere of Yellowjackets, Jeff, played by Warren Kole, rocks out to “Last Resort” in his SUV. And this time, I would argue the context is even more eerily similar to the original Frotcast story than even Silicon Valley was.
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW.
The context of the scene was that Shauna, played by Melanie Lynskey has survived a plane crash and started cheating on her husband, Jeff, with an artist. Her husband finds out, and she kills the guy, then tells Jeff, who goes to the guy’s place to help destroy all the evidence, but finds that his place is full of suggestive paintings of Shauna. Smash cut to Jeff rocking out to “Last Resort” as he tries to process this information.
As Warren Kole, who plays Jeff, explained to Variety, “He’s got a bruised ego.”
Kole also claimed that the episode was the first time he’d ever heard “Last Resort,” telling Variety “It was brand new to me. I hate it.”
Considering Warren Kole is a 45-year-old white guy from Texas, this stands out to me as one of the weirdest lies anyone has ever told, but I digress.
In both Halpern’s original story and in Yellowjackets, the Papa Roach listener is a recently cuckolded man with a bruised ego rocking out to “Last Resort” in his car. That cannot be a coincidence, can it?!?
“I’m sure it was simply a coincidence, but either way I am deeply honored to have my one true legacy furthered by a television show I greatly enjoy,” Halpern texted me when I asked him about it. “To put it succinctly; nice. Real fuckin’ nice.”
Even after my exhaustive Silicon Valley exploration went nowhere, I still have a hard time believing this was mere coincidence. But I’ll grant that maybe, just maybe, “Last Resort” has become the official pump up song of the recently cuckolded. As Kimberly Ricci wrote, “Cuck my life into pieces” indeed.
Update: As I was writing this, I received word that Papa Roach has been named “Rock Artist Of The Year” at this year’s iHeartRadio Music Awards. Congrats.
Vince Mancini is on Twitter. You can read more of his reviews here.