Ariana Grande Stalks Penn Badgley 'You' Style in 'The Boy Is Mine' Video

Ariana Grande plays a campy cat-and-mouse game with Penn Badgley in the video for her latest single, “the boy is mine.” The track, from her seventh studio album, Eternal Sunshine, is a nod to the 1998 Brandy and Monica hit of the same name (and both R&B legends make a cameo in Grande’s video). In the six-minute long clip, Grande obsesses over fictional New York City Mayor Max Starling, played by Gossip Girl’s Badgley (it’s a big day for internet boyfriends starring in pop videos). Given that Badgley also plays stalker and serial killer Joe Goldberg in You, it’s fitting that Grande flipped the script for her video, making an unwitting Badgley the object of her extreme affection.

In the video (and in a complementary performance of the song on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon), Grande traded in her Dangerous Woman-era latex bunny ears for a lacy cat mask. Watching a newscast from Brandy and Monica in her apartment about Mayor Max’s fight against the city’s rat problem (“fuck those rats,” Grande says under her breath), she concocts a love potion to give to her unsuspecting love. Eventually, she sneaks into the mayor’s apartment, dressed as Catwoman, but she doesn’t need the potion after all, as he gives into her advances willingly.

The song was also inspired by her own leaked track called “Fantasize,” which turned into “the boy is mine.” In an interview with Apple Music 1’s Zane Lowe, Grande called the song a “bad bitch anthem,” saying, “There is a large group of my fans that really do love a bad girl anthem, and this is an elevated version of that.” Being the type of pop star whose personal life sometimes eclipses her music, Grande is prone to responding to media narratives about herself through song. Her 2018 album, Sweetener, notably had a song called “Pete Davidson” about her then-paramour, while her 2019 follow-up, Thank U, Next name-checked most of her ex-boyfriends.

While the 1998 track famously had Brandy and Monica playing dueling suitors over the same man, Grande’s solo version is more declarative, and a seeming nod to her various high-profile love triangles, including her most recent relationship with Ethan Slater. Slater, who is one of Grande’s castmates in the upcoming Wicked movie musicals, reportedly left his wife (with whom he’d recently had a baby) to be with Grande. That situation sparked ongoing speculation about Grande’s rumored history of dating “taken” men, and this video could be her response.

Then again, the self-avowed theater nerd could also just love making mini-movies (and Badgley). As Grande told Fallon, “The video stars Penn Badgley, who I’ve been a fan of my entire life. It was so amazing to work with him. Super honored to work with him.”

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