Downtime

Have You Been Playing “F, Marry, Kill” Wrong Your Entire Life?

A Slate staff meltdown.

An eggplant emoji, a wedding ring, and a knife to play fuck, marry, kill.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images Plus.

Slate has historically enjoyed heated fights about things that don’t matter, but this week, a month and a half into quarantine, the staff descended into an especially feral Slack debate over a simple matter of gameplay: When you play “F, marry, kill,” do you also F who you marry? Or is the marriage sexless? Does it defeat the entire purpose of the game if you can F multiple choices?

Perhaps you never had much of an opinion on this. You will soon. Below, the full conversation, lightly edited for everyone’s mental health.

Susan Matthews:

Ashley is right

Ashley Feinberg: I’m so mad

Faith Smith: I disagree!

Rebecca Onion: Ashley is right!!!!!

Katie Rayford: Ashley is very right!!!

Ashley Feinberg: ty

Faith Smith: Y’all are crazy

Jeremy Stahl: Ashley is wrong

Seth Maxon: I agree with this celebrity commentary; sorry Ashley

Derreck Johnson: I’ve always assumed the marriage meant you wouldn’t mind spending the rest of your life w/ said person.

And the fucking was a one-night-only thing. So you shoot for the moon.

Ashley Feinberg: It’s about mutually exclusive options!

Shannon Palus: Ashley is wrong in the details but correct in spirit

Faith Smith: No

Ashley Feinberg: The entire difficulty comes in trying to balance the desire to f with who you believe you can stand for an extended period of time purely on the basis of personality

Shannon Palus: You have to be a baseline level of attracted to the M though!

Derreck Johnson: Not necessarily.

Seth Maxon: Spending your life together vs. one night stand achieves the difficulty you’re after

Shannon Palus: You have to be a going-through-the-motions level of attracted

Faith Smith: Marry is the golden choice because you assume you’re living together and sleeping together for an extended period of time

Ashley Feinberg: Right, no choice should be good! All should come with a catch

Derreck Johnson: Is this some sort of guerrilla marketing tactic for an upcoming Zoom call?
Did it only take us until week 6 to play FMK on Zoom?

Jeremy Stahl: (FMK: Fauci, Dr. Oz, Didier Raoult.)

Derreck Johnson: DON’T DO THIS JEREMY

Heather Schwedel: I think it was really smart to ask this question, haven’t we all wondered this before but never voiced it???

Susan Matthews: The worst part is really thinking about all the people who have been playing the game wrong, but thinking they are playing it right, and what they think about my choices

Rebecca Onion: Oh no Susan

Susan Matthews: (I am Team Ashley)

Rebecca Onion: This is a terrible thought

Ashley Feinberg: Yeah I didn’t realize till today so many people played the game incorrectly

Derreck Johnson: Why even have an F if it isn’t implied that there’s no sex going on w/ the M??

Ashley Feinberg: Feel like I have a lot of explaining to do

Shannon Palus: I realized I thought everyone was working on the very specific assumption that you have physical interactions with the M but they are pretty boring

Rebecca Onion: Now i’m coming to see that this game, as CORRECTLY played, FEINBERGIANISHLY played, contains within it a grim vision of marriage

Ashley Feinberg: It’s a hypothetical!

This is not supposed to be about how marriage ACTUALLy works

but about making difficult choices

in this world of murder and long-term celibacy

Danielle Hewitt: There’s a meaningful difference between F and M! Even if you can F in the M!

Katie Rayford: NO! it defeats the purpose if you can F in the M even if the Fing in the M is “a different type of Fing.” wow what did I just say

Bryan Lowder: F is like animal, slightly taboo attraction, right? And M is the level-headed choice (including some F). I thought that’s what the game was about?

Faith Smith: F can also mean the least terrible choice of two very bad choices

Ashley Feinberg: It’s about choosing something to the exclusion of the other options, that’s the only way it works!

Faith Smith: I’m sorry that you’re so wrong here but you are

Josh Levin: Let’s ask the game’s inventor, Mary Fuckkill

Shannon Palus: Now I’m curious: How does everyone think the Kill portion of this works? Painless or what

Derreck Johnson: Shannon, please

Bryan Lowder: West World style execution

Ashley Feinberg: Hypotheticals are about absurd extremes!!!bunch of philistines

Asha Saluja: I thought the “catch” of the M choice is that marriage is a low-grade form of punishment

Heather Schwedel: I think if you get to have sex in marriage, then the question is just asking you to rank three people by hotness, it makes it a much more interesting question for there to be no F in M

Ashley Feinberg: Heather…. thank you

Tom Scocca: Ashley seems to construe the game as being about excluding desirable options rather than about classifying one’s choices among undesirable options

It’s about balancing the interplay of desire and loathing

Depending on how the particular set of options is stacked toward desire or repulsion

Cleo Levin: I realize I’ve only played with repulsive options

Tom Scocca: Repulsion seems crucial

Holly Allen: I always envisioned M including having kids and guess what you have to do to have kids …

Ashley Feinberg: Adopt

Derreck Johnson: Reproduction is absent in the FMK universe.

Ashley Feinberg: The word marriage is used because it implies a sense of permanence imo, in the real world there is no law against ever speaking to a one night stand either, but in this game there is because it’s about singular choices

Jeremy Stahl: There’s no law that the F is a one night stand, just that you will not be killing or marrying them.Those are the only real rules of FMK, as I understand them.

Asha Saluja: When choosing which one to marry you have to incorporate how much sex they’d want to have in your decision
That’s part of it!

Ashley Feinberg: I always played as, you fuck them and then can never speak to them again

Chau Tu: It’s not like you get to kill multiple times

Heather Schwedel: Well most of the time they’re a celebrity, you’re never gonna see them again

Rebecca Onion: My god what a universe

Seth Maxon: Anyone who doesn’t understand the choice between a one-time F and marrying someone as being a HUGE difference in how you would like to interact with that person … I don’t understand how you move through human life, and perhaps you should talk to someone

Aviva Shen: What are the stakes if you can F one on the side while M to another!

Seth Maxon: The point is to decide, OK, I would like to F Colin Farrell, but I would probably prefer to live out my Days with Jake Gyllenhaal

Derreck Johnson: Is that so?

Rachelle Hampton: Though up until this point I had been playing the game the other way, I do think Ashley’s way makes it a lot more interesting

Ashley Feinberg: Damn Rachelle makes a great point that I think we should all consider

Seth Maxon: I really continue to be flabbergasted here by the word “Marry” meaning something other than “Marry”

Derreck Johnson: @ashley.feinberg How did this even come up?

Ashley Feinberg: Someone said something along the lines of “i know everyone thinks im wrong, but i think the m is celibate” and that’s when i learned countless people were playing the game incorrectly, something i had never considered

Josh Levin: So what you’re saying is that the game is fuck, friend, kill

Ashley Feinberg: Well there was some discussion about, if we’re playing by real life rules, as the pro-f in m people want, does that mean you’re going to jail after the murder

June Thomas: I admit I skimmed (CHRIST, this magazine can rack up the Slack posts like no other), but I’m glad that we are all totally clear on the concept of killing. Reassuring!