Photo courtesy Alexandra Kyle/Screenshot via TikTok
After the pandemic put her out of work, Kyle started using social media to share impressions videos. Like many people, she joined TikTok around May, mostly to keep up with Ana Coto‘s hugely successful roller skating videos. By July, Kyle, who posts as @alexandra.kyle, had a viral TikTok hit of her own: In it, she shows a small blonde wig—gifted by her friend Rynn, who Kyle credits for this new online bit—before zooming in on Fred’s face, behind the words “I’m fucked.” As Kyle puts the wig on Fred’s head with surprising success, a caption pops up: “So… should we reenact every episode of The Hills?”
With just a handful of followers on TikTok at the time, Kyle expected the video to be a success with her friend group and not really anyone else, but when she checked TikTok two days later, her video had a quarter of a million views. “Suddenly, thousands of strangers were like, yes, do some episodes of The Hills,” Kyle said, “and I can’t tell you what a gift it was to [be] newly unemployed, dealing with tons of loss here in our family, and to have thousands of strangers ask me to do something that sounded kind of fun for me.” Fred’s first TikTok appearance now has over 1.5 million views, and Kyle has picked up over 42,000 followers for her and Fred’s reenactments of The Hills, Sex and the City, and Mean Girls.
In these videos, Kyle rotates between characters, while Fred exclusively plays famous blondes like Lauren Conrad, Samantha Jones, and Regina George—limited by the wig, of course. He keeps a single role per video, in part, because “it would take a week to get him to play all those characters,” Kyle said; filming a single video requires many takes and edits, especially since the wig keeps falling off Fred’s head. An attention-loving senior cat, Fred is amenable to his new role—if he’s on the sleepy side, Kyle can put the wig on easily, though it doesn’t stay on well.
Though the initial choice of The Hills was because “he’s blonde, I’m blonde,” poking fun at the passé problems of wealthy white women became the bigger punchline, Kyle said. “It’s a fun thing to make fun of, and the more dramatic the scene, the better… At least with The Hills, these girls fight and [keep] having kind of the same fight.” When it comes to Sex and the City, replacing Samantha with Fred plays up the HBO show’s late 90s corniness and lack of relatability. When Kyle, as Carrie, sighs saying, “I saw the ring and I threw up—that’s not normal,” Fred, as Samantha, appears to give the exasperated reply, “That’s my reaction to marriage.” When Kyle imitates Carrie to reimagine the infamous Post-It breakup, Fred, as Samantha, stares with his large feline eyes, making the situation feel even more ridiculous.
Viewers of Kyle’s videos are also seeing the show in a new way. “I’ve seen quite a few comments on my videos that are like, ‘how absurd was it that this was an episode?’, or ‘how absurd is it that I thought this scene was relevant to my life’?” Kyle said. “It just all seems so, I guess like, a little trivial now.” (Having considered the show “comfort food TV” during college, Kyle still shook with joy when Kim Cattrall commented on one of her videos.) Regardless, part of the appeal of videos like hers to the Millennial crowd might be the comforting nostalgia of shows like Sex and the City, she suggested.
TikTok users on the younger side, meanwhile, are seeing merit in Kyle’s videos even if they were too young to sneak in viewings of Sex and the City episodes when it was on air. “I’ve seen a ton of comments that are like, ‘I’ve never seen this show, but now I might start watching it,'” Kyle said. “Or, ‘I’ve never seen the show, but I am giving you a follow because you’ve got a cat in a wig.'” While the idea of “cat in a bonnet” is the easiest, quickest punchline, Kyle acknowledged, it has clearly worked yet again.
Fred, for what it’s worth, also appears to enjoy his newfound TikTok fame—so much so that as a viewer of Kyle’s videos, I couldn’t help but wonder: Inside every confident, driven, single cat, is there a well-off, middle-aged blonde woman just waiting to have brunch? Was Charlotte right? Do cats just wanna have fun?