Fantasmas: Is RealUs an Actual Social Media App?

Image Credit: Atsushi Nishijima/HBO

With ‘Fantasmas,’ HBO has given Julio Torres free rein to explore his wildest ideas, with every episode revealing something new to the audience. After setting the stage in the first episode, where the protagonist, Julio, loses his oyster earring, the second episode focuses more on side characters unrelated to Julio and his problems. One such person is a Tik-Toker named Skyler. He is an influencer whose whole life revolves around his “brand,” which is threatened when he discovers a new app in the market called RealUs. What is the story behind it, and how does it impact Skyler’s story?

The Fictional RealUs is a Dig at the Social Media and Influencer Culture

‘Fantasmas’ references a lot of real-life apps and company names, with Skyler using TikTok and being sponsored by Clorox. However, RealUs is not one of those real things. It is a fictional app whose purpose is to highlight the drawbacks of being too invested in social media and how things can flip for a person easier than expected. There is a real social media app called RealU, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the HBO series, and the similarity between its name and the fictional app is most likely coincidental.

Skyler comes into the picture when Julio remembers that they’d danced together at the bar where Julio lost his oyster earring. He believes that Skyler may have ingested the earring and takes him to the doctor to confirm his suspicion. While this lead doesn’t go anywhere, it does allow the story to take a detour and give us an insight into Skyler’s life. Julio knows that Skyler works as an influencer, but there is so much that is not known about him.

Skyler’s segment begins with him being self-possessed and confident about his brand and his position. But when his dejected neighbor points out that his beauty and brand will fade with time, he is forced to consider the possibility that Tiik-Tok might not be for life. When he goes out to buy a charger, the bodega guy tells him about a new app called RealUs, which is quite popular among middle schoolers and is quickly gaining traction.

Image Credits: Atsushi Nishijima/HBO

The fact that Skyler is hearing about it for the first time shows how much he is lagging, also opening his eyes to the reality of his situation. He gets worried that his neighbor might be right, and he decides to make an account on RealUs, even though it is not exactly the audience he caters to. Through Skyler’s arc and the mention of RealUs, ‘Fantasmas’ touches upon the idea of the fleeting fame that people hold on to desperately, especially in the age of social media, and how easily their lives are crumbled when the apps that they built their whole lives around are taken over by something new, and they realize they are not irreplaceable. For Skyler, RealUs comes as a reality-check, which makes him reconsider a lot of things about himself.

Read More: Is Fantasmas Based on Julio Torres’ Real Life?