Whether deflecting an awkward moment or lightening the mood in an argument, affecting an accent has become a Gen Z verbal tic

Alaina Demopoulos

Americans have long been called out for their phony British accents – think Madonna in her Guy Ritchie era, or the friend who just came home from studying abroad in London. But Gen Z has embraced bad imitations of Cockney slang or a Yorkshire dialect, using obviously fake, theatrical voices to make light of low-grade daily dramas.

What’s behind the trend? Green, who is 26 and appeared on the US version of Love Island, blames it on her love for the original UK dating show.

“The accent really took over when I started watching the show,” she said. “It blew the accent the fuck up, and everyone was obsessed with their cute little sayings, like ‘doing bits’.” (For the uninitiated, that means getting intimate but not having sex.)

It’s not just Love Island: “fake British accent” videos have over 188,000 views on TikTok, where young people say they use the voice whenever they feel uncomfortable.

Asher Lieberman, a 21-year-old college student and content creator from Miami, said he picked his voice up from watching old X Factor auditions on YouTube.