People can't look away from TikTok's ‘Who TF Did I Marry?’ How the story of woman's 'pathological liar' husband became the latest viral sensation.

A woman uploaded 52 videos outlining her marriage to a 'pathological liar.' How did she capture the attention span of millions of TikTok viewers?

Reesa Teesa (left), the narrator of the 52-part TikTok story that went viral, and Danni (right), who revealed the ex-husband's identity. (via TikTok)

There are different levels of being nosy on the internet. One level could be following the celebrity gossip Instagram account Deuxmoi, another could be trying to deduce when a random couple broke up based on their social media posts.

But how nosy would you have to be to watch a 52-part TikTok storytime about one woman’s experience with her ex-husband? Apparently, millions of people have the answer to that.

On Feb. 14, TikTok creator Reesa Teesa posted the first video of her series bluntly titled “Who TF Did I Marry?” Sitting in her car with her phone propped up on the dashboard, Teesa set the scene for the story about her previous marriage to “Legion,” the alias she gave her ex-husband, who, she claimed, was a "pathological liar."

After falling in love with Legion and marrying him in 2021, Teesa shared with her followers the moments where his facade started to crumble, with claims that included: discovering that he had a fake social security number; realizing he was lying about his job; learning he was faking daily conversations with his family; and figuring out he was a felon who had violated probation.

Over several days, Teesa continued uploading seven- to 10-minute video updates filling in millions of viewers about her marriage. Teesa did not respond to Yahoo News’s request for comment.

The full story, which clocked in at 52 parts (including "introduction" and "clarification" videos), would take hours for someone to get through. Seemingly millions of people committed to following it through to the end. Why?

Are TikTok users really spending hours following this story?

On a platform like TikTok, which has a reputation for short-form video content, it might seem contradictory for millions of viewers to pay attention to 52 videos in a row — let alone ones that exceed a few minutes. But with people already watching full-length movies and TV shows on the platform, Vanderbilt University media professor Claire Sisco King argues that a long story with cliffhangers and a true crime element like Teesa's can be compelling content for a dedicated audience.

“I'm not surprised that TikTok has begun to take on more attributes of longer-form media,” King told Yahoo News. “It's not entirely different to be scrolling through video after video on TikTok than it is to be binging the series on Netflix.”

Viewers have been treating it like a Netflix series and described themselves as “binging” the story, with some suggesting that others think of it like an audiobook they could listen to while doing chores. People are sharing what part they've made it to while others complain about coming across "spoilers."

One follower took it upon herself to create her dream cast for the movie adaptation of Teesa's life — not a farfetched idea given what happened with the "Zola" story on X, formerly known as Twitter, that went viral in 2015 and became a movie in 2021.

What is noteworthy, according to King, is that the general response from viewers is indicative of how easy it is for users to forget that “characters” on the internet are real people.

“It does get experienced as ‘content’ and it’s hard to distinguish between what’s an authentic part of a person’s life and what’s a public performance or persona,” she said. “Part of what social media has done is increase the uncertainty around boundaries and categories like famous and not famous, public and private.”

When a viral story gets taken to the next level: Internet users find 'Legion’s' real identity

Using details Teesa mentioned in her story, viewers were able to track down a man who ultimately confirmed he was Legion, Teesa’s ex-husband. He could not be reached by Yahoo News.

Despite multiple TikTok accounts sharing Legion’s real identity, the reveal has been misattributed to TikTok creator Danni because of how viral her video went. In reality, Danni, who asked to be referred to by her first name only, told Yahoo News she did not personally try to figure out who Legion was.

Danni came across Teesa’s video through her For You Page, TikTok’s algorithmically designed feed for each user. Danni described her TikTok account as a place to talk about mental health and relationships, and she thought Teesa’s video was honest, real and something Danni’s viewers should watch too.

“I think she was great at telling the story,” Danni told Yahoo News. “I was initially telling my followers to go and watch her story. I was in full support of her storytelling, and I was watching it too.”

Danni said she started seeing comments with Legion’s real name and was receiving DMs from people with links to his social media accounts, which have since been deleted.

“There was a huge amount of DMs and comments about ‘This is the guy’ and more in a cautionary way,” Danni explained. “When I was being asked to share information about him, I personally thought it was the right thing to do just based on my content and my platform, as well as hearing that other people also wanted it [revealed]. So I made a decision I thought for the collective and the greater good.”

In her videos, Teesa detailed the lengths to which Legion would allegedly lie and trick her while dating and throughout their subsequent marriage. Danni thought it was important his real identity was public information — she said she had no intention of riding Teesa’s coattails or going viral herself.

“I think that there’s people who feel unsafe by all of the details she gave and the way she gave them,” Danni argued, referring to Teesa’s decision to hide Legion’s identity. “We know that there’s this horrible person out here, according to her — who is it?”

King suggested this mentality, this comfort viewers have to become amateur sleuths and investigate Teesa’s story themselves, stems from a larger cultural interest in conspiracy theories and true crime.

True crime isn’t a new genre by any means and has become so popular it’s turned into meme fodder. But King argues that amateur sleuthing has become more of a focus for a lot of people following the success of true crime podcasts, movies like Searching and Missing, and TV shows like Yellowjackets — all of which feature regular people either analyzing crimes or doing the investigating themselves, rather than depending on the police.

“I think [Teesa’s story] is scratching similar kinds of itches [as true crime shows],” King told Yahoo News. “If the story feels too familiar or it hits close to home, one way to protect yourself is to develop knowledge about the situation and become an authority on the subject.”

But are the intentions as innocent as wanting to feel safe?

In May 2023, a TikTok creator faced backlash after sharing his journey of personally investigating a series of deaths in his hometown of Chicago, only to leverage his newfound following to advertise his startup. In July 2023, the chart-topping true-crime podcast My Favorite Murder had to address comments from several former fans who questioned the show’s ethics when it came to covering the stories, many arguing that the hosts seemed to have forgotten they were laughing about real people. (Both women are comedians and have never worked in law enforcement professionally.)

“Social media is an outgrowth of reality TV and celebrity culture that were places where people sought melodrama, and melodrama tends to invite these very intense responses of fandom where people feel very invested in what they’re watching,” King added. “I think it can give people a sense of agency over their own lives by developing this sense of expertise in this particular case.”