Since Ariana Grande‘s latest album Eternal Sunshine premiered, there’s been nonstop speculation regarding the meaning behind the project’s meaning — how it relates to her ex-husband Dalton Gomez, her new relationship with Ethan Slater, you name it. However, one song in particular has caught the attention of fans — “we can’t be friends” — and Bowen Yang might have just confirmed a wide-held fan theory about the track’s meaning.

While “we can’t be friends” appears to be about the end of a romantic relationship, Bowen revealed during the latest episode of his podcast “Las Culturistas,” that he thinks the song is “about the way the media relates to her.”

For reference, Ariana sings in the first verse: “I didn’t think you’d understand me, how could you ever even try? / I don’t wanna tiptoe, but I don’t wanna hide / But I don’t wanna feed this monstrous fire, just wanna let this story die.”

Bowen believes that the song is about the way the internet and media treated Ariana after it was revealed she was in a relationship with Ethan in July 2023, amid news of her divorce with Dalton after a two-year marriage. At the same time, Ethan was going through a divorce of his own with his own wife Lilly Jay, whom he had been with since 2012 and shares one child with.

“This is the only thing that I’m going to acknowledge about the situation, which is that like there is such an unqueer, puritanical Christian way we are approaching marriage in the discourse. It’s very trad wife. Everyone’s being very like, ‘the sanctity of marriage,’ and, of course, it is so much more complicated than that,” Bowen said on the podcast.

The Wicked actress sings in the chorus: “We can’t be friends, but I’d like to just pretend. You cling to your papers and pens, wait until you like me again.”

YouTube/Ariana Grande

“The thing with ‘we can’t be friends’ is [that] the narrative is wrong,” Bowen continued. “The narrative is wrong, and she’s not even outwardly saying that, but the narrative has been incorrect. People have even retracted things in these stories with no f–king apology to the people who are involved, and I can tell you for a fact that what people out there seem to be clinging on to as correct is incorrect.”

For her part, Ariana has cryptically hinted at the meaning behind the track.

“It can be whoever you want it to be about, but I know for me what it’s about,” she told Amazon Music in March 2024. “I have a hard time going into specifics because I feel like that’s not the point of it. The point is to leave it up for people to make of it what they will.”

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