Why Are We So Obsessed With the ‘Drivers License’ Drama?

Published on 2/9/2021

My friends banned me from talking about Olivia Rodrigo and the ‘drivers license’ drama. I can’t blame them, as it got to a point where I sent multiple Tiktoks per day and entered the realm of conspiracy theories.

But I’m far from the only one, and my Tiktok feed confirms it. There is an entire community of people motivated by the ‘drivers license’ drama who consider themselves far too old to be this bothered by it. The “much older” girl that Olivia sings about is years younger than me, and that was painful to realise.

For some reason, we’re enthralled by the gossip, tunes and clapbacks surrounding this trio of young actors, and the theme song to our drama is “drivers license”. Let’s try to discover precisely why thousands of millennials have been captured by the “drivers license” drama.

1. The song is great

Firstly, let’s not deny that it is a powerful song. Olivia may be young, and far younger than us, but she is a great songwriter. The song comes from such a personal place, and honest writing will always shine amongst the rest.

It’s a catchy pop song that also manages to tug at your heartstrings, and so it’s only natural to play it on repeat. And by playing it frequently, you may become curious about all of the drama surrounding it, perfectly natural given its extent.

So drama aside, Olivia made a great song, and any age can enjoy blasting this one in the car or shower.

2. Reminiscing

We may be too old to enjoy this turn of events appropriately, but we were once her age. It’s not crazy to miss that time. High school was rough in more ways than one, but it was also such a blissfully naive time. When getting your driver’s license was your biggest worry, and you honestly believed you would be with that person forever.

A time before life interrupted things, and before Covid interrupted them further. It’s only natural for us to relive such strong emotions by replaying this song and diving into their drama.

There is the melancholy to being that age, and then also the melancholy to being in love. To feel so strongly about someone that you revisit the places you went to, you run events through your mind searching for when it went wrong.

Maybe they didn’t write a song about you, but they probably made promises that weren’t kept. We all hear this song in different ways, and it gives us a chance to work through that.

3. What else do we have to do?

Many of us are stuck at home and have been for a long time. When you call your friends, the dreaded question is a simple one: what have you been up to? Because the answer is nothing, or at least nothing worth sharing. I’ve been working. I’ve been eating far more than my stomach can handle. I’ve been binge-watching another show and wasting a literal hour on Tiktok.

No one wants to hear that. So here comes some adolescent drama, packaged up neatly with three songs released in succession. Could we ask for anything more?

Suddenly we can swap theories, gush over this song, and enjoy the welcome distraction to the dismal state of our world right now.

We’re bored, but even worse is that we lack drama. Without going to parties or having drunken brunches, we lack events to stir up our existence and conversations. The gossip has genuinely run dry. But Olivia saved us with her little love triangle and catchy chorus. Thank you, Olivia, thank you.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Drama - Photo by Vulture, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

4. The great love story

I don’t mean the love story between Olivia and Joshua Basset, as that seems quite over. Then again, I haven’t watched the show that brought them together, so I might not be the best judge on that. I merely mean that she is underaged, and so any love story needs to wait a bit longer.

Instead, I’m referring to your great love story. The one that you picture as you dramatically sing this song in the shower, as you pound the wall when that incredible bridge rings out. You sound amazing, by the way.

This song allows us to imagine our great love story, whether that’s remembering or picturing. It will enable us to experience the drama of the betrayal, pain and longing. To step into a romance film and play the leading role, when so few of us get to feel like the main characters in our own lives.

You get to have that rush of emotion, that aching story, for four minutes and two seconds. Following this, you can return to your partner, your couch, your pet, and go on as usual, only slightly emotionally scarred from the experience.

Every few years, a song comes along that makes us truly feel with our entire existence. The last one I experienced was ‘All Too Well’, and so ‘drivers license’ couldn’t have come at a better time. Sometimes we want to intentionally experience emotional pain, if only to release the pent up feelings, and this is undoubtedly one of those times.

5. She is a Swiftie

Okay, this one is only reserved for Swifties like myself. But I must admit that discovering Olivia is a Taylor Swift fan didn’t hurt. She shared a photo of her song right under Taylor’s on the charts, and Taylor herself commented.

In psychology, we talk a lot about social approval. To summarise it briefly: we like things that other people like, particularly those we trust or that have authority. Taylor fulfils both of these categories, so seeing her acknowledge ‘drivers license’ makes us unconsciously consider it to be better. And if Olivia loves Taylor Swift’s music, then she must have good taste, and we again have a reason to relate to her. Despite the fact that she is a rich seventeen-year-old actress, and comparisons fall short from here on.

Also, every Taylor fan will talk about the incredible bridges in her songs. This is a considerable aspect of Olivia’s song, as the bridge is the most played part of it. It is an incredible emotional journey, documented frequently on Tiktok. So if you like Taylor’s music, with her insanely good bridges, then liking Olivia’s song doesn’t come too difficultly.

6. Tiktok

Speaking of Tiktok, it has to be addressed in this article. When I first heard about Tiktok, I wasn’t really enthralled by the concept. In that way, I think I’m quite the millennial. But Covid persisted, and so I gave in and downloaded Tiktok. That was a huge mistake, as without Tiktok I’m sure I’d write far more articles, read more, and know less about Gen Z drama.

But the damage is done, and Tiktok has become a part of my daily routine. My Tiktok was absolutely stuffed with Olivia Rodrigo drama. I couldn’t swipe twice without hearing the bars of ‘drivers license’. I’m not complaining, as it introduced me to this hilarious world.

As my Tiktok feed quickly updated itself to be adults questioning why they’re so obsessed with this song and drama. And it’s precisely for that reason. This shared connection we have complete strangers, the connection of some drama in which the oldest player is twenty-one years old. We can relate to being equally outraged/ enthralled/ obsessed, and just for a minute, you have a bond with faces on the internet.

We might deny it, but even as millennials we want to chime in on the Tiktok drama, even just by reacting to things as the old people we feel like. And this was a perfect opportunity for exactly that.

7. We love to hate the blonde girl

Okay, first of all, I’m also blonde, and I don’t actually hate Sabrina in this scenario. She dated Joshua after they ended, and she’s her own person. I’m referring to the fact that we were given a villain in this scenario, a villain clad in makeup and fashionable clothes who was also a large public figure.

It’s ironic how they resemble the original High School Musical characters, as she is genuinely the Sharpay to Olivia’s Gabriella. I am Team Sharpay to this day. You have the simple, sweet character being thwarted by the glamorous blonde. It taps into a familiar story, one we have seen time after time on the screen. It’s almost unfathomable that this isn’t a PR stunt.

We were given a story with a clear victim and two perpetrators and a song that couldn’t help but make your eyes water. Can you really blame us for become sucked into the drama? Matters weren’t helped when Sabrina released the most defensive song possible, which only served to heighten this whole situation’s humour.

Thank you for listening to my theories when all of my friends have shut me off for my own good. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about this situation or song, but it has captured too many people’s interest not to be given the accolade it deserves. One of these dramas comes along every so often, and we owe it to ourselves to enjoy it.

After all, we grew up in a time when High School Musical stars released songs with lyrics like “Put your sneakers on, we're going dancing all night long”. We considered it very cool at the time, but now Disney stars release songs like ‘drivers license’, and sing “'Cause I still f**kin' love you, babe”. It’s quite the change, and we’re here for it.



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