What is a 'hot rodent boyfriend'? Allow Hoda and Jenna to explain

Golden retriever boyfriends are so passé. TikTok is now celebrating “hot rodent boyfriends.”

“Hot rodent boyfriends. They’re a sexy ‘Rat Man.’ They’re one and the same,” Jenna Bush Hager said during TODAY’s segment on the topic. “If somebody comes up to you and says, ‘Hello, sexy rat, man,’ they’re also calling you a hot rodent boyfriend.”

The trend celebrates a certain “internet boyfriend” aesthetic, and has led to headlines like, “Who Is a ‘Rodent Man’?” and “The hot rodent boyfriend: why Gen Z has gone wild for ‘sexy rat’ guys.”

If anything, rodent boyfriends are showing there’s no one way to be attractive or masculine. As Jenna put it, “You should want to date Stuart Little.”

What is a ‘hot rodent boyfriend’?

The trend is associated with a certain look. Jenna and Hoda Kotb, on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna, read out a list of features associated with the aesthetic.

“They’re svelte (with) angular features and bodies,” Hoda said.

“Not necessarily conventionally handsome, which makes them even hotter,” Jenna said.

But it’s more than skin deep, Jenna said. The actors associated with the look “convey the opposite of toxic masculinity,” she said.

One X user explained it as someone who simply “looks normal” compared to the rest of Hollywood.

“We yearn for men who just look normal. like their face is a little crooked yesss thats actually just a normal thing,” the tweet reads.

“Rodent boyfriends” are not to be confused with “hot possums,” which went viral in a 2023 video by the TikToker Andrea Grimes. Hot possums are unkempt but charismatic people of all ages and genders.

The trend also goes along with an internet theory that all people are either "rat or frog pretty." One TikTok explained, "People either look like a rat or a frog." Other videos sort celebrities into "frog" or "rat" categories.

OK, I'll bite. Who is a ‘hot rodent boyfriend’?

This version of the trend started with the movie “Challengers,” which starred Zendaya opposite two love interests played by Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor.

Both, according to the internet, are “hot rodent boyfriends.”

“People are saying they look like cartoon mice,” Jenna said.

“about to watch challengers. i wonder if i’ll like more roddy st. james or stuart little,” one X user wrote, comparing the leads to Stuart Little and Roddy St. James of “Flushed Away” fame.

Other men who have been linked to the aesthetic are Timothée Chalamet, The 1975 frontman Matty Healy and “The Bear” star Jeremy Allen White. People are shouting out their own nominees, like Adrien Brody.

Has there been backlash?

The concept is being embraced by some corners of the internet — likely, the same that refer to certain men as “babygirl.” Some "rodent men" are enjoying the moment: "As somewhat of a 'rodent man' myself I am glad this is now our time to shine," one wrote.

Others find the association "insulting" on the stars' behalf.

"Can we please not do this? It’s insulting, putting hot in front of the word rodent doesn’t make it a compliment. No one wants to be compared to a rat," one X user wrote.

It’s also also sparking conversation as to whether the trope is antisemitic. Jewish people were depicted as rodents and vermin in propaganda by Nazis during the Holocaust. Chalamet, who is associated with the term, has Jewish ancestry.

"PLEASE stop comparing jewish people to rodents… even if it’s meant in an endearing way it’s still antisemitic," another X user wrote.

CORRECTION (June 14, 2024 at 9:16 a.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled Timothée Chalamet as Timothée Chalemet, and Stuart Little as Stewart Little.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com