The past year has been jarring for fans of Mulaney, who a year ago was "sober, happily married, happily childless." Mulaney, says Aja Romano, "is arguably one of a crop of celebrities and pop culture figures who gained popularity during a period of Obama-era liberal optimism — think Leslie Knope and Lin-Manuel Miranda. After getting his start in standup during the mid-aughts, Mulaney joined the writing team of Saturday Night Live, becoming a formidable comedy name whose relatable, down-to-earth jokes soon proliferated across social media. Gags like the one where he played Tom Jones 21 times on a diner jukebox won over audiences for their essential banality as much as for their hilarity. As barbed as Mulaney’s humor could often be, it was generally introspective rather than aimed outward — self-deprecating rather than toxic. Even his weirder material, such as his repertoire of absurdist comedy, was a normal, benign kind of nerdery, palatable whether it was being memed by quirky geeks on Tumblr or touted by the edgelords of Reddit. He was the quintessential well-meaning, mild-mannered, liberal comedian (one veiled anti-Trump joke about the death of Julius Caesar got him investigated by the Secret Service in 2020). Onstage and off, Mulaney spoke openly about his personal life — particularly how much he loved his now-estranged wife (Anna Marie) Tendler...The couple (and their beloved dog Petunia) were touted for their normal-people vibes; one notable example appeared in an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, in which Tendler eviscerated Mulaney’s terrible rug-buying choices. They were cute, funny, domestic, and, again, relatable — and that relatability allowed Mulaney to cultivate and benefit from an assumed intimacy with his fandom, even as he held people in reserve. Ultimately, all of that former intimacy and openness has rebounded upon Mulaney this year — perhaps because little feels more relatable than the grief Tendler expressed when Mulaney, apparently after leaving her for (Olivia) Munn, filed for divorce. 'I am heartbroken that John has decided to end our marriage,' she told Page Six in May...Meanwhile, Mulaney, while dealing with drug addiction issues during an isolating pandemic, has also struggled to overcome the public’s emerging narrative of him as a wolf in sheep’s clothing...Granted, the newly established narrative of Mulaney as a hypocrite relies on a regressive, heteronormative version of domestic bliss — happily married, monogamous, with a dog — and that doesn’t always align with reality either, as many have been quick to point out...The problem, however, is that Mulaney himself cultivated this idealism and used it to promote his brand: He was a likable, happily married everyman, and that made him approachable and unlike the 'average' Hollywood celebrity. He performed this role so well, in fact, that it didn’t feel to the audience like a performance — and so they forgot that it was, and had been all along."