It is a truth of the internet: streaming shows are meant to be memed. Most of the time these memes are limited to thirst posts or reactions to big twists. But, seemingly unintentionally, the fans of 1899 have taken this well-crafted art form to a new level. Solely by reacting to this bananas thriller, they’ve created a maze of gifs and memes as confusing to the uninitiated as the show itself.
Created by Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar, 1899 follows a ship full of passengers as they travel from London to New York. Or does it? By the time the series unravels its many mysteries and simulations, it’s next to impossible to tell what’s real and what isn’t.
Adding to the budding headache, 1899 revolves around a group of migrants who speak seven different languages between the lot of them. Do you know what that means? It means that people are constantly spilling their guts to other passengers who have absolutely no idea what they’re saying. The result is a hauntingly beautiful sort of linguistic chaos, and Twitter has noticed.
But as is always the case with this show, there’s another layer. Two couples in 1899 — Krester (Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen) and Ángel (Miguel Bernardeau) as well as Olek (Maciej Musiał) and Ling Yi (Isabella Wei) — are being praised as the new Jack and Rose à la Titanic. This is a story about a doomed ship after all. If you haven’t seen the show, then the Olek and Ling Yi shipping must seem especially surprising considering the fact that they can’t understand each other at all. He speaks Polish, and she speaks Cantonese. And yet the couple has emerged as a love story for the ages.
That’s without touching 1899‘s monumentally wild plot. There have been Peter Griffin gifs, multiple IT jokes, and odes to a boy and his triangle. Adding to the confusion, because Netflix is available globally and 1899 was designed to be a multicultural series, these takes aren’t exclusively in English. It’s not uncommon to see a well-liked and retweeted joke in a language you can’t understand — an experience that perfectly mirrors what it’s like to be a passenger aboard the Kerberos. It’s also a show that’s so intricate and specific, it encourages fans to concoct their own, even wilder fan theories that are even more chaotic and nonsensical to outsiders than the actual show:
When you add all of these elements together, 1899 must seem like a fever dream for anyone who has solely experienced this show through their timelines. Which… yes. That is exactly what it’s like to watch this masterpiece. You have no idea what’s happening, what’s about to happen, or who anyone truly is. But god, the people are gorgeous and the visuals are next level.
Keep up the good work, everyone. Maybe if the memes keep coming, Netflix will have a real-life promotional tie-in for Season 2. Now that will really mess with your mind.