Early-aughts young Hollywood reached its peak one night in fall 2006, when Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton were all photographed in the same car. They were quickly dubbed the Unholy Trinity by tabloids and blogs, a nod to their well-documented exploits at the time. Lohan had just accused Hilton of pouring a drink on her; meanwhile, Spears was dabbling in the party scene following her split from Kevin Federline—and Hilton was her tour guide of sorts.
The photo of Lohan, Spears, and Hilton in the car (which the New York Post disgustingly called a “bimbo summit”) encapsulates a very specific time for twenty-something celebrities: a time when fame was the name of the game, and bottle service, feuds, and sex tapes helped you win.
That’s a far cry from the social currency of today’s millennial glitterati. Now young Hollywood is seemingly in a rush to grow up. Nick Jonas, 25, is reportedly engaged to Quantico actress Priyanka Chopra after just two months of dating. Kylie Jenner, 20, welcomed her first child with rapper Travis Scott in February. Justin Bieber popped the question to Hailey Baldwin shortly after rekindling their relationship. And, of course, we have Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson, whose whirlwind engagement—filled with couple tattoos and sappy Instagram posts—feels akin to an adolescent sugar rush.
Gone are the days when dancing on tables and posting naked selfies—a Kim Kardashian staple—established your pop-culture relevance. Three years ago celebrities were tripping over themselves to appear the sexiest on Instagram. That still exists, but it appears the “cool” thing to do now is settle down through marriage or babies. Domestic is the new debauchery.
But why? Why are all these celebrities—some who can’t even legally drink—in such a hurry to get their hands on a metaphorical white-picket fence? After all, millennials as a whole are still apt to get married later in life, and a growing number don’t want kids at all. Jonas, Jenner, Grande, Bieber, and Baldwin, on the other hand, are ready to skip all the stages that come between “My name is…” and “Will you marry me?” It feels rash.
That word, however, might offer us the answer. The millennial generation is also the generation of instant gratification. Food, transportation, laundry, and even sex are all accessible on our phones in five seconds with little to no interaction with others. A message turns into a hookup, which may become something more. But if it doesn’t, that’s OK, because there are most likely 50 more messages waiting in your inbox to ignite this cycle again. We no longer have to wait to be stimulated; we’re overstimulated.
It only makes sense, then, that young celebrities, who have the most access to this instant gratification culture, are ripping through relationships faster than we can keep up. They’re accustomed to getting things quickly and easily, so it’s understandable why they might be ready for marriage now. At 23.
There’s another phenomenon possibly at play too. Our current political and social climates are just so tumultuous that young stars could be clinging onto anything that makes them feel safe. It’s been reported that Grande and Davidson feel connected to each other because they’ve each experienced extreme trauma. (Davidson lost his father on September 11, and Grande’s concert in Manchester last year fell victim to a terrorist attack.) Bieber and Baldwin are both reportedly quite religious, a shared bond that no doubt helps them navigate life. With so much uncertainty in the air, it’s not completely far-fetched to see why celebrities are itching to lock down the people in their lives who give them any semblance of peace.
How this will affect millennials (and postmillennials) at large is still a question. It’s safe to say, though, that a larger wave of young people looking to settle down could be coming. In fact, it may have already arrived: Consider how it’s now trendy to stay in on Friday nights and scoff at the exhaustion of club culture. Plus, reality TV shows like Love Island and The Bachelor are in the business of selling everlasting love to contestants in their twenties. Whether or not those relationships pan out is irrelevant; what matters is people want to lose themselves in the idea of finding a partner.
The shift toward young domesticity has actually been around for a while; it just took Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber joining in for the world to notice. They’re now the faces of this movement: the movement of 22-year-olds who are ready to stop playing around, and start playing house.
Christopher Rosa is the staff entertainment writer at Glamour.