The Brief: Reverse duets on TikTok are created to trick the viewer into thinking the individual in the left video had a cruel, smug, happy, or another unexpected reaction to the emotional video on the right.
Duets are a common practice on TikTok. This feature allows users to react or quite literally “duet” another TikTok by pretending to be a part of the video. Duets typically feature the duetter on the left side of the widescreen clip. The latest app features allow up-and-down duets, as well as a three-way split. There is also a “switch” button which will flip the duet, so the creator is on the right. As of early August 2020, reverse duets, which picture the “duetter” on the right side of the video, have been making their way around the app.
This layout causes the viewer to believe the video on the left, which is usually of a happy or celebratory nature, is actually the creator when it is not. The creator’s video is on the right side and depicts them in an emotional state. This in turn, makes the individual in the video on the right look cruel or smug. The caption is also written from the faux duetter’s point of view, making the trick more believable. Some go as far to change their handles and profile pictures to make it look like they’re the other person.
@Casslikeass’ video was filmed to look like a video of a man dancing was him reacting to a video of her crying about her father leaving her family. The video received 4.1 million likes and was viewed over 24.7 million times.
@Rachtastic126’s TikTok made it appear like the individual on the left side of the screen decided to react to a video of her crying over the lack of symmetry in her face (a variation of the mirror symmetry trend) by sharing a video of how “perfect” their face is. The video garnered over 2.9 million likes and 20.4 million views.
This video received numerous comments about the “brutal” and “lethal” nature of reverse duet TikToks.
These types of videos can go super viral on the app, with some of the best videos accruing million of views and likes due to the reverse duet drawing responses from both amused and confused TikTokers.
Overall, the trend appears to be a means to gaining more visibility on the app.