That little orange demon. An outpouring of unavoidable hole pics. The unmistakable “Brrrrup!”
Grindr is not even 15 years old, but the impact that the chaotic, geosocial gay dating app has made on queer dating, relationships, and culture will be studied for centuries.
Though LGBTQ+ people have always used chat rooms and websites to connect, the accessibility, reach, and frankly, overall horniness of the mobile-based application have made it a household name amongst the gays — and even the straights. Our queer Neanderthal ancestors who sketched their genitalia in hieroglyphics would be shook (and jealous).
As our means of hooking up evolve, gay cinema and television are taking note. Films like 2006’s Another Gay Movie, which preceded Grindr by only three years, feel dated with references to relics of the past like Manhunt — and if you’re old enough to remember that name, do not forget your retinol cream tonight.
Nowadays, that messy, little mask-faced icon often plays a pivotal role in the plot of queer projects, as seen by name drops in Fire Island, Uncoupled, and The Other Two. Grindr even branched into Hollywood themselves with streaming series Bridesman, which dropped on the app and YouTube last year.
But even when screenwriters aren’t willing to go full-on product placement, there’s no mistaking what app they’re alluding to when a gay protagonist clicks on that tawny-colored square and loads up the grid.
We’re ranking some of the best Grindr dupes from TV and film that had us cackling in our seats… or searching the App Store shamefully. Check them out…
Bros — the first-ever major studio gay rom-com to star an entirely LGBTQ+ principal cast — is full of belly-laugh-worthy bits. Still, one of the most hilarious gags to come from screenwriter and romantic lead Billy Eichner is Zellweger, a new gay dating app he attends a launch party for.
The name is an obvious nod to Renée Zellweger (and the affinity gay men have for any actress over 40), and the Oscar-winning Judy star even gave her blessing. “I was like, ‘Uh, what sounds like Grindr and Tinder? Zellweger,’” Eichner told Entertainment Weekly in 2022. “I spoke to [her] manager and he spoke to her and she loved the joke. She was like, ‘Yeah, you can totally do that!’”
We’ve got to give it a 9/10 — only because we’re scared about the sheer number of Chicago impressions the name invites.
If anything could match the mayhem of Grindr, it’s the sprawling and lawless plot line that’s kept The CW’s Riverdale going for seven seasons. The series, like the comics, utilizes satirical, fake brand names like The Machelorette, Vanity Flair, and American Excess. However, one of the best is its moniker for the town’s go-to gay dating app: Grind’Em. It comes up after Kevin (Casey Cott) is found cruising while a serial killer is on the loose, naturally. Betty (Lili Reinhart) asks, “Can’t you just use Grind’Em like every other gay guy?”
We’re giving this one a 7/10. Despite its titillating title, Kevin is exhausted by the catfishes and no one has time for that!
Hit and Run: Pouncer
We know what you’re thinking: Dax Shepard wrote an action comedy flick about a dude in Witness Protection and his girlfriend running from mobsters in 2012 that uses a Grindr spoof to keep its high-stakes plot moving? Stranger things have happened.
When he’s not tackling crime, Officer Rathbinn (Jess Rowland) stakes out flings on gay dating app Pouncer. While chasing down Charlie and Annie (played by Shepard and real-life wife Kristen Bell), he discovers via the grid that U.S. Marshal Randy Anderson (Tom Arnold) is also a friend of Dorothy, and later uses it to trace Randy’s coordinates after a high speed chase.
This one is a 6.5/10. “Pounce” may be too animated of a verb — but we love the allyship.
How to Get Away With Murder: Humpr
Connor (Jack Falahee) and Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) gave us one of the most gripping (and steamy) love stories in TV history on How to Get Away with Murder. While we were always rooting for them, the couple certainly faced their fair share of temptations. A cleverly named hookup app called Humpr had Connor on the brink of cheating during Season 4, though Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) helped talk him out of it. Now if only we all had a Viola!
We’re rating Humpr a 10/10, only because we love a happy ending.
Manfinder is the app of Terry’s dreams in this relatively unknown short about an average looking guy trying to find love in London. The site allows him to physically transform into any kind of man he wants to be while entertaining suitors, but if he can’t decide who he wants by noon, the jig is up.
While the short has a good message, we’re going with a 1/10. It’s enough to deal with flakes and frauds, so we couldn’t last a day with the Cinderella of it all!
The Thing About Harry: “Buff or Gruff”
Jake Borelli and Niko Terho star in this made-for-TV movie about two high school nemeses who end up falling in love after reconnecting years later. While the rom-com centers on a relationship blooming IRL, Borelli’s character’s roommate (portrayed by O.G. Queer as Folk star Peter Paige) encourages him to download “Buff or Gruff” because his “poor bologna pony needs a break.”
Although the app does not lead to love, we’re ranking it 7.5/10… mostly because these names sound pretty d*mn convincing.
Dear White People: Bonr
From racism on campus to dating app discrimination, Netflix‘s Dear White People was never afraid to go there. Season 2 found Lionel Higgins, portrayed by DeRon Horton, navigating his identity as a gay man and tackled racial bias in the LGBTQ+ community head-on. In one episode, another queer student talks about a boy whose “Bonr profile says whites only,” leading to a powerful examination of white supremacy in the gay world.
We’re giving this one a 3/10. Confronting privilege is an important conversation, but Lionel can do so much better!
G.B.F. rides the line between “corny” and “candid” like a twink straddling daddies at a circuit party, but the 2013 teen film has its heart in the right place. The movie follows three high school queen bees in a race to weaponize a recently-out student as their gay best friend. Unfortunately, being spotted on “slutty gay hookup app” Guydar is what forces him out of the closet in the first place.
Considering its social commentary and witty twist on “gaydar,” we’re scoring this one 8/10 — and cameos from icons like JoJo, Megan Mullally, and Natasha Lyonne certainly help.
The tagline for this low-budget 2011 rom-com is “Love on the download,” though its titular app is an unhinged hybrid of Grindr, eHarmony, OkCupid, and I, Robot. On the heels of a relationship that’s lost its spark, Marshall (Houston Rhines) installs the app without reading the fine print — only to have his life overtaken by a heap of sexy suitors who have him questioning what he actually wants.
We’re giving it 3/10 because no one reads the terms and conditions… but we love that there’s a Katy Perry song in the trailer.
Love, Victor: Gay Dating and Chat App
Considering it’s a high school coming-of-age series, no one expected Looking-level horniness from Hulu’s Love, Victor, but that didn’t stop the Love, Simon spinoff from tackling dating apps in its final season. After a breakup, Victor (Michael Cimino) turns to a mobile application literally titled “Gay Dating and Chat App” to find a man. Armed with a headless torso pic, he snags a date… only to realize it’s his ex Benji (George Sear).
Final rating is 6/10, mostly because the app’s name takes Disney chasteness to a comical level.