If you’re a teenage boy dealing with dating problems, where do you turn? Your dad, who’s barely spoken to another woman besides your mom in the last 20 years? Your friends, who know just as little about relationships as you do? Some teen romantic comedy where everyone who plays a 16-year-old is actually 30?
No, you call into the DownBadPatrol Twitch stream, hosted by “Father” Tucker Lindgren, who, like a priest during confession, will hear your issues and offer his most salient advice. And if you don’t like what he has to say, there are about a thousand other viewers in the comments section to offer their unsolicited opinion, too.
Lindgren, a 24-year-old comedian in Chicago, is the man behind DownBadPatrol, a popular Twitter and TikTok presence devoted to documenting instances of people being “down bad.” Over the summer, the phrase — used to describe someone experiencing a sort of pathetic, unrequited lust — became the viral label of our collective condition, with DownBadPatrol as its main cataloguer. Given the thousands of instances of being down bad that Lindgren has now witnessed, he’s at least got experience on his side in terms of doling out romantic advice to young people. And Twitch, of course, is the ideal medium to do it on.
Originally, the livestream began as a way for people to confess their “sin” of being down bad to Lindgren, thus the “Father” role. But rather than prescribing 20 Hail Marys or some other means of atonement, he began offering advice and actual methods of fixing their situations. “I never planned on it being advice,” Lindgren tells me. “I just wanted to get a bunch of down-bad stories on Twitch. I thought it’d be fun for everyone to crowd around the campfire and tell our sad songs. But all of a sudden, it became an advice column.”
Typically twice a week, in 90-minute increments, Lindgren hosts the Twitch livestream sessions, where thousands of viewers, primarily young men of high school age, call in to share their down-bad details. In turn, Lindgren shares his wisdom on how they can remedy the situation. This back-and-forth is conducted in the style of a live cable-access show, where viewers are connected via phone and can ultimately say whatever they want. According to Lindgren, it’s almost just luck that people take it somewhat seriously.
“A crazy thing about the community we’ve built is that I originally thought it was gonna be toxic,” he tells me. Early on, he was especially concerned that incels would dominate the show. “I was afraid that the chat was going to be toxic high schoolers that were sick of women, and I was gonna have to deal with that and explain to them every day that women aren’t the enemy. But it’s such a positive chat. It’s a good community, and I’m happy for that. It’s risky, but that’s usually how you get the best content — having no idea what you’re getting.”
In a recent episode, there was a 14-year-old boy who feels bad that no girls are interested in him, and an 18-year-old dealing with a toxic, controlling ex for whom he bought a Nintendo Switch that he now wants back.
Lindgren’s responses take on a sort of wise older brother tone. In the case of the 14-year-old, he told him that having a girlfriend isn’t worth worrying about at such a young age, and for the 18-year-old, he hopes that the relationship was a learning experience and not to return to this ex-girlfriend — even for the Switch. “The first thing I take into consideration when answering these younger callers is, ‘What would I want to know when I was that age?’” he tells me. “As a teenager, you don’t know anything — you think you do, but you don’t. Sometimes you can hear the desperation in their voices because they’re just lost without a paddle. I’m no Casanova — I’m not smooth — but with these kids, they just need the most basic answers. A lot of times they already know the answer, too — they just need to hear it.”
He tries to take on a relatively kind, neutral perspective, seemingly with the knowledge that the viewers in the comments and later callers — including Lindgren’s older brother — will dish out the tough-love responses. But even so, Lindgren says the commenters are rather kind to callers as well. “People who call in but don’t make it on the show will type what they’re feeling in the chat, and everyone decides to be their therapist in the comments and help them out,” he says. “Maybe it’s not the best advice, but people try.”
Lindgren isn’t the only person on Twitch to offer advice and pseudo-therapy sessions. He isn’t even the only person to do it in Catholic regalia. But he is one of the few honing in on the fact that young men, of high school age in particular, don’t have a great place to turn for advice that isn’t either directly from their peers or an authority figure. “It’s hard to find a balance for men where it’s not patronizing, but it’s also not embarrassing,” he explains. “You don’t want to be like, ‘Oh yes, being a man is hard, let me help you,’ but you also don’t want to say, ‘Suck it up, being a man is easy.’ Those seem like the two places you can go right now, like there’s no real in between. So it’s good to find a little niche like that.”
With that in mind, more than just being an avenue for specific callers to get some insight into their dating woes, the DownBadPatrol Twitch livestream serves as a rare avenue for young men to discuss relationships in a way that’s safe and anonymous, but still on their level. Lindgren is there to deliver the thoughts of someone slightly older and more experienced, someone who’s seen far more of the consequences of down-bad behavior than many of his high-school viewers. By including the community within the livestreams, he offers a new spin on the advice column format, creating a space in which everyone can figure out their dating problems together.
In that sense, the DownBadPatrol isn’t just Lindgren — it’s everyone.