Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn Split: Reactions Reveal Public Attitudes Toward Female Artists

by Kendall Headley '26 on May 29, 2023
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

Just weeks ago, Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn reportedly called it quits after six private years together. An insider shared that “they had been together for such a long time and were spending so much time together, but their personalities were just too different,” stating that Alwyn is more introverted than Swift, who initiated the breakup. 

Many speculate that the seemingly arbitrary timing may be due to Swift’s recent burst of fame—when the couple got together, she had been out of the spotlight for nearly two years after releasing her album 1989 in 2014, and would continue to lead an exclusively personal life until she dropped Reputation in 2017. Currently, Swift is living amidst multiple re-releases of her previous albums, the popularity of her new album, Midnights, released in October 2022, and her ongoing Eras Tour across the United States’ largest venues. This surge of action by Swift elevated her current celebrity status, which may have driven the couple apart. 

Fans were taken aback at the split, due to the duration of the relationship and their collaboration on deeply emotional projects, such as her albums folklore and evermore. Public reactions have varied widely, with some looking to her lyrics as a source of mutual mourning and emotional insight and others adopting critical opinions about her character. 

Many social media posts have  praised Swift for her ability to continue performing after the end of a six-year relationship. Others have recognized Swift’s journey through love as influencing their own—one  TikTok user expressed that the breakup affected her significantly because “when [Swift] found the one she made us believe that we will find our Reputation and Lover after we went through Red. She helped us realize that love was supposed to be golden.” 

Despite the support and spotlight on her artistic intelligence, some reactions reflect the thinking that followed Swift for the majority of her young adulthood. Before her step back from the stage in 2015 and subsequent relationship with Alwyn, many judged Swift’s character by the men with whom she was involved. Interview questions inquired about her dating life rather than her projects: On The Ellen Show in 2011, DeGeneres prompted her to answer, “I am Taylor Swift, and I am dating ‘blank,’” after she had repeatedly said nobody. In a red carpet interview at the 2015 Grammy Awards, a reporter told her, “you’re going to walk home with more than maybe just a trophy tonight, I think lots of men.” Both of these instances exemplify the misogynistic treatment she has faced: a disregard of her artistic accomplishments and focus on the men in her life. Similar approaches have emerged after the split. One Twitter user wrote, “Taylor Swift fans after she breaks up for the 100th time and proceeds to release yet another album blaming her bf for the breakup.” This response, instead of understanding emotional turmoil as the source of inspiration for her music, boiled her career down to albums “blaming her boyfriends.” 

Reactions to Swift and Alwyn’s split signifies societal progress past the standard of judging women’s careers and character based on their relationship status, leaving the public with a sense of appreciation for the complexity of female art. While these advancements are eminent, glaring inconsistencies mirroring aged ways of thinking still permeate. Swift has always been transparent on her stance. In the closing statements of her Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, she says, “I want to still have a sharp pen and a thin skin and an open heart.”

It’s Not Exhausting Always Rooting for Taylor

by Olivia Riportella '25 on November 4, 2022
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

A Review of Taylor Swift’s New Album, Midnights

After two years of re-recording her music, Taylor Swift has finally returned with original songs for her 10th studio album, Midnights. In a historic release, Midnights has already smashed streaming records and has become this year’s best-selling album. Swift has proven once again that she is on top of the music industry, whether it be re-recording albums from a decade ago, randomly dropping a surprise release, or releasing an album she canceled years ago.  She has shown that she will always come out on top. 

Swift was inspired by 13 sleepless nights in her life for the production of her latest release. She described the journey with her album, saying, “These 13 songs are a collection of music written in the middle of the night, a journey through terrors and sweet dreams.” Midnights emphasizes reflection more than innovation, as Swift returns to pop to describe the trials and tribulations of love, life, and navigating her insecurities and self-criticisms. She invites us to hear the introspection of her deepest feelings, as she painfully states that “life is emotionally abusive.” 

Midnights is Swift’s first album to be recorded entirely with Jack Antonoff, whom she has worked closely with for years. It plays with a mixture of electronica, synth-pop, dream pop, and chill-out music to create a moody, reflective vibe. This is seen throughout the setlist as she experiments with grooves and vintage synthesizers in tracks like “Lavender Haze” and “Midnight Rain.” Drawing from 1970s fashion and aesthetics, Swift creates a glamorous visual effect for this album through her music videos. Differentiating from her folkish style on her previous sister albums Folklore and Evermore, Swift brings back the glitz and glam for Midnights

After two months of building up anticipation for her newest album in a traditional roll-out through a TikTok series called Midnights Mayhem, where Swift revealed the album’s track list through one random selection at a time, Swift added to the excitement by teasing a “very chaotic surprise” that would occur hours after the release of Midnights

This surprise manifested into an extended version of the album, titled Midnights, (3am Edition). It features seven new songs that were written for but ultimately excluded from Midnights. Swift could not help but share them as her fascination with “vault” songs has led her to spoil her fans with tons of new tracks with each new release of an album. Arguably the most beloved song coming from these tracks is the gut wrenching “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” which many are claiming to be her best song from the entire album.

Midnights had the biggest first week for any album this year, as it almost doubled the number of sales of the previous title holder, Harry’s House by Harry Styles. Coming in with a high of 72.5 million streams, Midnights absolutely smashed the Spotify record for the most single-day streams for an album on the first day of its release. It now holds the title for the third most streams in a single week by an album ever. In the U.S., Midnights has become 2022’s fastest and best-selling album, along with logging the highest vinyl sales week of the 21st century. 

Look What You Made Me “Clue”

by Liz Keating '24 on September 18, 2022
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

Taylor Swift and her Obsession with Easter Eggs

August has officially slipped away, leaving Swifties to anxiously await Taylor Swift’s 10th studio album, Midnights. Fans have been scouring Swift’s social media and her media appearances, hoping that she drops one of her infamous Easter eggs. If you have been a fan of Swift over the years, you know that she loves leaving secret clues to her fans hidden throughout her work, whether it be in a social media post, an interview, music videos, or even on the booklets of her album covers. These aptly titled “Easter eggs” allow Swift to connect with her fans on a level that mainstream artists have never before accessed in this capacity. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Swift says, “I love that they like the cryptic hint-dropping. Because as long as they like it, I’ll keep doing it. It’s fun. It feels mischievous and playful.” So, in the spirit of Midnights, and the Easter eggs that will (hopefully)come from this era, here is a look at three of Taylor Swift’s most interesting Easter eggs over the span of her career. 

The “Look What You Made Me Do” Music Video

In 2017, Swift came out of hiding with her lead single of the album Reputation, “Look What You Made Me Do.” Swift is quoted as saying “Literally the whole video is just an Easter egg, there are thousands of Easter eggs. There are some that people still haven’t found. It will be decades before people find them all.” LWYMMD was released as a response to the infamous drama between Swift, Kim Kardashian, and Kanye West regarding West’s “Famous” music video. Easter eggs in the video include a nod to her ex Tom Hiddelston and the “I heart T.S” tank top, her pseudonym Nils Sjöberg on the gravestone, the one-dollar Swift won in her sexual assult trial, the infamous 2009 VMA speech, and the Junior Jewels shirt from her 2009 “You Belong With Me” music video. 

Liner Notes in Lyrics 

If you are a longtime fan of Swift, you would know of the liner notes in her CD booklets. Swift capitalized certain letters in the booklet to spell out one main word or phrase.  Sometimes these linear notes would just be a cute phrase, like “Someday I’ll find this” in the lyrics for “Love Story. Sometimes she decided on something more pointed, like the name “Sam” spelled out over and over in the lyrics for “Should’ve Said No. Swift, unfortunately, discontinued these notes in her Reputation era, opting for the album to speak for itself, but it was a nice treat for the fans who took the time to look at her work in depth. 


Taylor Swift is known for her close and public relationships with her friends, one of her closest friends being Blake Lively. On the track “Betty” from her 2020 album folklore, Swift includes the names of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ daughters as the characters of the love story she is singing about. Since their children James and Inez were already known to the public, Swifties theorized that the name of their new daughter would be Betty.  Fans turned out to be correct as Swift released the song in August 2020, saying, “I named all the characters in this story after my friends’ kids.”

A New Day for Swifties

by Claudia Fennell '24 on September 8, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Taylor Swift Reveals Release of Yet Another Album

After a busy two years, Taylor Swift is soon to release her fifth album. This will be her 10th studio album, titled Midnights, and will be released on Oct. 21. The album will be composed of 13 songs representing a sleepless night in the artist’s life. Swift teased the content of the album, saying that each song was written throughout her life, always in the dark of night.

Swift announced that she is planning on releasing a new album at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 28. The announcement was made after the artist won video of the year for her 10-minute version of the song “All Too Well,” which she recorded as a short film. The short film is a few seconds short of 15 minutes long, with over 74 million views on YouTube, making it one of the most famous music videos from 2021. The film stars actors Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink who act out the relationship that Taylor Swift had with her ex-boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal. The song gained so much popularity that it beat the Guinness World Record for the longest song to ever reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

After thanking her fans for supporting her throughout her music career, Swift announced that she plans to release a brand-new album this fall. She stated that all the constant encouragement from her fans has motivated her to continue to release new music. The artist stated at the MTV’s, “I had sort of made up my mind that if you were going to be this generous and give us this, I thought it might be a fun moment to tell you that my brand-new album comes out Oct. 21.” After winning the video of the year award for her short film, the artist was delighted to speak on the release of a new album.

As usual, Swift’s fans are looking for clues about the upcoming album throughout the singer’s social media and her public appearances, attempting to find hints about the new album. The singer has not confirmed any of the clues so far. Swift released two albums two years ago in 2020, Folklore and Evermore before she began rerecording her old albums after issues with her old record label. In 2021, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version) were released, her first re-recorded albums now under her name and authority. Taylor was inspired to re-record after her old record label made a $300 million dollar deal to sell the pieces. This sparked Swift’s interest to re-record her work, stating on “Good Morning America” that she thinks, “artists deserve to own their work. I just feel very passionately about that.” 

Fans across the world are waiting in anticipation for Oct. 21, when listeners can “meet [her] at midnight” as Swift posted on her Instagram.

Where the Crawdads Sing Controversy

by John Downey '23 on April 22, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Where the Crawdads Sing Controversy

Taylor Swift Unfairly Criticized for Involvement in Film Adaptation

By Grace O’Connor ’22

Many readers have been anxiously awaiting the release of the film Where the Crawdads Sing, which is based on the New York Times best-selling novel of the same name. The book centers on a woman named Kya who is forced to grow up on her own and navigate the complexities of life without guidance from a young age. 

As a teenager, Kya finds herself involved in two serious relationships. She becomes swept up in both, letting herself be open to love, a feeling she had never experienced before in her life. When one of the men she is involved with is found dead, Kya is the first to be blamed, as many people in her community are quick to judge her due to her tragic past. 

The novel seamlessly combines two genres, romance and mystery, keeping readers engaged from its opening pages to its final lines. Readers empathize with Kya as she falls victim to social prejudices against her owing to her socioeconomic background but are inspired by her resilience.

With news of Where the Crawdads Sing’s adaptation to the big screen has come scrutiny of author Delia Owens’ questionable past, the facts of which were not publicized when the novel was first released in 2018.: Years before she became a writer, Owens and her now-ex-husband traveled to Zambia, where they were believed to be somehow involved with the murder of an unidentified poacher. 

Without spoiling Where the Crawdads Sing, there were enough similarities between the novel’s plot and the author’s unsavory background for backlash to erupt at news of the novel’s film adaptation. Indeed, according to BuzzFeed News, “despite its critical acclaim, Where the Crawdads Sing has been shrouded in controversy after problematic information about [Owens] came to light.” 

One famous figure who seems unfazed by the controversy is music industry legend Taylor Swift. In March, Swift took to social media to share a teaser trailer for the film that featured a song she wrote called “Carolina.” The singer expressed, “as soon as I heard there was a [Where the Crawdads Sing] film in the works starring the incredible @daisyedgarjones and produced by the brilliant @reesewitherspoon, I knew I wanted to be a part of it from the musical side. I wrote the song ‘Carolina’ alone and asked my friend @aarondessner to produce it. I wanted to create something haunting and ethereal to match this mesmerizing story.” 

Although many of Swift’s loyal fans were excited to hear a new song from the artist, some were disappointed that in supporting the upcoming film, Swift essentially aligned herself with Owens despite the author’s dubious past. As The News explains, many have “expressed disappointment that Swift is supporting someone who got away with the murder. Others said that she should have first [considered] all the information [about the project and those associated with it] before doing [a song for it].” Still other fans believe that Swift and her team fans were not aware of Owens’ past before becoming involved in the production. As BuzzFeed News notes, some critics are attempting to paint the situation as evidence of Swift being a white feminist and only standing up for others’ rights when it benefits her.

However, Swift is only one person of many—and one celebrity of many—who is involved in the production, with breakout star Daisy Edgar-Jones starring as Kya and Reese Witherspoon’s production company helming the film. While, if true, Owens’s role in the poacher’s murder is certainly deplorable, critics’ condemnation of Swift for her involvement in Where the Crawdads Sing and silence with regard to the other big names attached to the project suggests that the outcry is not so much about the morality of working on the film, but rather about criticizing a successful woman’s accomplishments.

Taylor Swift to Receive Honorary Doctorate From NYU

by John Downey '23 on April 8, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Taylor Swift to Receive Honorary Doctorate From NYU

Singer-Songwriter and NYU’s Graduates Will Be “Feelin’ ‘22”

Olivia Riportella ’25

Taylor Swift will soon be able to add a doctorate degree to her already long list of achievements. After her busy year of releasing chart-topping albums Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version) as well as related projects and music videos, while also re-recording future Taylor’s Version releases, the prestigious New York University has announced that they will be awarding Swift an honorary doctorate degree. The “All Too Well” singer will receive a doctorate in fine arts, honoris causa.

Swift is set to be awarded her doctorate on May 18 at Yankee Stadium, the same morning that NYU’s class of 2022 will receive their degrees. The superstar has also been selected to deliver the commencement speech for those graduates that same day in what the university is deeming a “traditional” ceremony. Notably, later in the day, NYU intends to hold a separate “doubleheader” commencement ceremony to honor the classes of 2020 and 2021, who were unable to have their respective ceremonies last year and the year prior due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a recent statement, the Manhattan school expressed that they regard Swift as “one of the most prolific and celebrated artists of her generation.” They also emphasized the singer-songwriter’s wide variety of achievements, highlighting her status as the only female artist in history to win the music industry’s highest honor, Album of the Year at the Grammys, three times. 

NYU’s decision to honor Swift this May is not too surprising given the star’s presence in the university’s curriculum. Indeed, NYU is currently offering a course dedicated to Swift and her work. The course is held at the university’s Clive Davis Institute and is being taught by Rolling Stone reporter Brittany Spanos. According to a representative for the program, Spanos is covering Swift’s evolution as a creative music entrepreneur, the discoveries of youth and girlhood present throughout her discography, the legacies of country and pop songwriters, the politics of race in contemporary music, and Swift’s influence on young songwriters such as Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish. 

In a statement on the purpose of the course, Spanos expressed, “[I hope students] learn how to appreciate [her] type of songwriting and listen to her and understand her beyond the way that the public has shaped her.” 

As Spanos’ remark indicates, Swift has had a turbulent relationship with the public over the years, with everything from sexist stereotypes of her only writing about her love life to the infamous events of summer 2016 leading people to form opinions about her that are less than accurate. Spanos hopes that students will evaluate the truth behind such perceptions of the singer-songwriter and learn to appreciate her artistry and great musical achievements. 

Although Swift herself does not have a hand in this course, her upcoming receipt of an honorary degree from the school as well as the important role she will assume as NYU’s 2022 commencement speaker suggests that she has nothing but a positive relationship with the university. Needless to say, both she and NYU’s graduating seniors will be “feelin’ ‘22” on May 18.

If She Was a Man, They Wouldn’t Question How Much Recognition She Deserved

by John Downey '23 on February 10, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

If She Was a Man, They Wouldn’t Question How Much Recognition She Deserved

Lesser-Known Male Musician Makes Damaging, Disrespectful, and False Claims About Taylor Swift

Nikki Idelson ’22

In an unsurprising but unfortunate turn of events, Taylor Swift has been once again forced to defend herself and her career. In a recent interview with the LA Times, Damon Albarn, the lead singer of groups such as Blur and Gorillaz, stated that he would not consider Swift a great songwriter and made the ignorant allegation that Swift “doesn’t write her own songs.” 

Swift, who has become infamous for standing up to those who attempt to slander her or otherwise damage her reputation, immediately responded to Albarn’s baseless claims on Twitter. She wrote, “I was such a big fan of yours until I saw this. I write all of my own songs. Your hot take is completely false and so damaging.” 

Notably, in Albarn’s LA times interview, the interviewer tries to give him a chance to retract his false claims, reminding him that Swift at the very least co-writes all of her own songs. Albarn, however, is insistent on diminishing Swift’s accomplishments. He responds to the interviewer, “that doesn’t count. I know what co-writing is. Co-writing is very different to writing.” 

When discussing Swift, Albarn compared her to young singer Billie Eilish. He asserted that he “prefers Billie Eilish” over Swift because Eilish is a “really interesting songwriter.” Ironically, Eilish co-writes the majority of her music with her brother and fellow artist FINNEAS—the very trait which informed Albarn’s lesser opinion of Swift and her talent as a songwriter.

Swift’s fans were, well, swift to point out this hypocrisy and how it only further discredits Albarn’s slander. One “Swiftie” took to Twitter to respond to Albarn’s claims by asking, “when will Taylor Swift be regarded with the respect and recognition she rightly deserves? When she appeals to the middle-aged male hipster market? When the graying, thick-rim glassed, Carharrt-brigade finally give their approval?” 

This fan and many others have been considering the role of sexism in Albarn’s claims. According to Metro, Swift “is credited as the sole writer on 54 of her tracks and is listed as a co-writer on the rest.” In the past, Swift has been criticized and even belittled for incorporating material from her own romantic experiences into her music, while male singers, such as John Mayer—one of Swift’s former boyfriends and the subject of her beloved song “Dear John”—regularly do so and receive no backlash for it. With this history of sexist treatment of Swift in mind, Metro suggests that Albarn’s unwelcome comments propose that “perhaps we are still dwindling in a phase of societal revolution where we believe that women aren’t capable of greatness without some male interference” and notes the sexism latent in Albarn’s claim that “no matter what you think of Ed Sheeran’s songs, no one would question whether he writes them himself.” 

Swift’s collaborators and colleagues in the music industry have also jumped to her defense. For instance, Jack Antonoff, who has produced tracks on each of Swift’s albums since 1989, tweeted, “I’ve never met Damon Albarn and he’s never been to my studio but apparently he knows more than the rest of us about all those songs Taylor writes and brings in.” 

In an attempt to placate those who have challenged his damaging claims, Albarn responded to Swift’s condemnation of his allegations with an “apology,” insisting that his words were taken out of context, although the interview shows that this was not the case. He tweeted, “I totally agree with you. I had a conversation about songwriting and sadly it was reduced to clickbait. I apologise unreservedly and unconditionally.” Swift has not responded to his apology, but it is safe to say, as she sings in “The Man,” that she’s “so sick of [haters] coming at [her] again.”

Long Live the Legacy of Taylor Swift

by The Cowl Editor on December 11, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Long Live the Legacy of Taylor Swift

How the Artist’s Career has Already Blazed Trails for New Stars

Julia McCoy ’22

How does society judge an artist’s influence? Success is often judged not only by their accolades, but also by their ability to influence future generations of artists. That is exactly what Taylor Swift has been able to do throughout her career. Even more impressive: she’s only 31 years old (32 later this month). 

Since her debut album, Taylor Swift, hit the radio in Oct. 2006, Swift has accumulated eleven Grammy awards and become the most decorated artist in American Music Awards history. Swift has released nine studio albums and is beginning to re-record those albums that she does not yet have ownership of, with two of them already released this year. 

Something that the well-decorated artist has been aware of, however, is the possible ephemerality of her career and fame. On her re-recorded album, Red (Taylor’s Version), Swift released a song “from the Vault” featuring Phoebe Bridgers titled “Nothing New.” Originally written in 2012, it speaks to Swift’s fears of losing her “radiance” as she gets older. Listeners were quick to notice the way that these lines resonate with Swift’s career today. Swift sings that new artists will use her as inspiration: “She’ll know the way and then she’ll say she got the map from me./I’ll say I’m happy for her/ Then I’ll cry myself to sleep.” At 22, Swift clearly feared what the future might hold for her. A decade later, those stars that “got the map” from Swift are luckily also blessed with her devoted support. 

Swift’s success on the stage is only complemented by the impact that she has had on younger artists and a newer generation of music. In 2021, artists like Olivia Rodrigo, Conan Gray, and Maisie Peters are among the most prominent “Swifties” gaining their own success in the music industry. 

Rodrigo’s Sour is steeped in Swift’s influence. Her song, “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” features an interpolation of Swift’s “New Year’s Day” from reputation. After Rodrigo’s hit “driver’s license” broke records, Swift reached out as a friend and mentor to for the young artist. When sharing the iTunes charts together earlier this year, Swift commented on Rodrigo’s post, saying, “I say that’s my baby and I’m really proud,” a quote inspired by Swift’s own mother at the beginning of her career. Rodrigo now sports a ring gifted by Swift that is similar to the style that the elder singer wore while recording Red. 

When Swift lauded Gray’s song “Wish You Were Sober” on her Instagram Story, Gray responded, “I honestly feel like you raised me both as a writer and a human and I cannot express in words how much this means to me.” Rodrigo and Gray were each given an exclusive first listen to Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and were tasked with advertising the first re-recorded album on TikTok. They often identify themselves as Swift’s children, calling her “mom” because of her influence on their careers. 

Lastly, Peters is also a fan and took inspiration from Swift’s writing style this year. On July 24, 2020—the day that Swift’s folklore album was released—Peters found inspiration in Swift’s storytelling in “betty” to write her own story-like song, “Outdoor Pool.” She was able to understand through Swift that she could craft experiences based on different perspectives. 

Swift’s “Nothing New” opened her audience’s eyes to how she feels about her career and legacy. As she seamlessly moves through different creative periods, Swift’s words and work blaze a trail for generations to follow. And they’ve already started. 

Tiff and Earl

by The Cowl Editor on November 19, 2021


Dear Tiff and Earl,

Should I break up with my boyfriend to feel the pain of Taylor Swift’s new album? I just feel like it would make listening to Red a surreal experience (and fit the vibe). 


Not Too Well (Taylor’s Version)

Dear Not Too Well, 

If you are asking this question, you have already arrived at the right answer. But let me make one suggestion as to a method of proceeding from this point: make sure he knows that you asked good old Tiff and Earl this question. If he has a smackerel of sense, he’ll understand, and graciously allow you to be the dumpee, not the dumper. It’s much better that way. Let him tear up your relationship. It’s obviously not a masterpiece. It’s a Bob Ross painting. 



image of tiff

Dear Not Too Well (Taylor’s Version),

In order to get the full and proper effect of Red (Taylor’s Version), you can’t be the one to break up with your boyfriend—he must be the one to dump you. If your man has a proclivity for attending indie music concerts on a weekly basis, owns a million-dollar couch, and incurred your father’s disapproval when he failed to show up at your 21st birthday party, the good news is that he should be breaking your heart any day now! 

Don’t let him keep your scarf from that very first week, even though it reminds him of innocence, and it smells like you.


image of earl

Taylor Swift Releases Her First Short Film

by The Cowl Editor on November 18, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Taylor Swift Releases Her First Short Film

Adapting Her Most Emotional Song to the Screen

Riley Coyne ’24

The short film, All Too Well, premiered on Friday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. Directed by Taylor Swift, it features Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink as the two main characters. These actors have a large age gap, as O’Brien is 30 years old and Sink is only 19. While it is not a problem considering the two are just acting, this significant difference in age was more than likely intentional on the director’s end. 

The song that inspired the film, “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” by Taylor Swift, is a heart-wrenching story about a breakup with someone who is “so casually cruel in the name of being honest.” It is no secret that this song is about Swift’s ex-boyfriend, actor Jake Gyllenhaal. While Swift has never openly admitted such, the hints and details left in the song have been enough for listeners to put the pieces together over the years.

Gyllenhaal was 29 and Swift was 21 when the two broke up. This age gap is practically the same as that between O’Brien and Sink. Swift is known for being very particular and cryptic; her fans know that everything she does has reasoning behind it. Even the slightest details will most likely have underlying meanings, which is why fans are certain that O’Brien is acting as Gyllenhaal and Sink is acting as Swift in the short film.

“All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” plays throughout the film in between dialogue, with the lyrics often aligning with what the actors are doing. For instance, when Swift sings, “There we are again in the middle of the night/We dance around the kitchen in the refrigerator light,” O’Brien and Sink dance in a dimly-lit kitchen with light from the open refrigerator illuminating the two of them.

Montages follow the couple during the highs and lows of their relationship, from a romantic weekend getaway upstate to a heated argument in the kitchen. Notably, the one time the music completely stops is during this scene in the kitchen. Sink’s character expresses how upset and hurt she felt at a dinner party where O’Brien’s character treated her differently around his friends. Shortly after this fight the two break up, and Sink’s character is left heartbroken and grieving over the loss of the relationship. 

The film then jumps to a scene titled “Thirteen Years Gone,” where a grown-up version of Sink’s character, played by Swift herself, speaks at a bookstore about her novel, All Too Well. It ends with the camera panning out and revealing O’Brien’s character watching in the distance, wearing his former lover’s scarf from their very first week together.

Sink and O’Brien did a fantastic job bringing these characters to life and Swift herself openly stated how proud she was of them. On The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, she said that the two “could not have blown me away more” and that “the chemistry between them is on another planet.” This short film was a major accomplishment for everyone involved, especially Swift, as it was the first film she ever directed. 

All Too Well: The Short Film is out now on Youtube, but be warned: viewers are guaranteed to shed more than a few tears.