When Did "Well THAT happened...." First Happen?
December 29, 2014 2:48 PM   Subscribe

I know it's hard to trace memes back to their very first occurences, but can anyone offer at least early sightings/citings of the phrase "Well, THAT happened...."?

This shiftless little utterance is actually one of the more profound contributions of modern pop culture. Whole spiritual traditions are condensed by those three words!
posted by Quisp Lover to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Possibly Mamet's Stain and Main?
posted by xyzzy at 2:57 PM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

State and Main is my first recollection of it, too.

Go you Huskies.
posted by roger ackroyd at 3:04 PM on December 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

State and Main, after the car accident, is my reference.
posted by Pax at 4:31 PM on December 29, 2014

when i first heard the phrase in 2002, i was told that it came from state and main.
posted by bruceo at 4:41 PM on December 29, 2014

That's also where I first heard it.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 4:53 PM on December 29, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all! I guess it WAS easy, after all!
posted by Quisp Lover at 6:22 PM on December 29, 2014

State and Main was also the first time I heard it. But I want to point out that "well, that happened" is the flip side of the coin from "it is what it is." While they say basically the same thing, the former indicates a zen-like acceptance of the universe, while the latter is a prickly refusal to change things for the better.
posted by ejs at 6:59 PM on December 29, 2014

Response by poster: Agreed, ejs (also: a nice counterpoint to the earlier catchphrase, "Tell me this isn't happening!")

From this interview with Mamet:

You get inspired too. Oftentimes, you just get inspired. Stuff’s happening on the set. You say, ‘Oh my God, let’s do some more of that,’ or, ‘Now I understand what happens in scene 47. One of my favorite moments was doing State and Main with Alec Baldwin and Julia Stiles. They’re both drunk out of their minds, and he crashes the car. The car is upside down; they’re both drunk, and he crawls out of the car and looks around. He says, ‘Well, that happened.’ It was like an inspiration at four o’clock in the morning. He said something else, and I said, ‘Well, wait a second, say this.’ I was looking at what was happening on the set and said, ‘Wouldn’t that be funnier?’

posted by Quisp Lover at 7:08 PM on December 29, 2014

I heard it again on the weekend, watching Kung Fu Panda with the kids; they give the line to Po. This movie was probably viewed by a slightly larger audience than State and Main, though it's well used in both movies.

I've started rewatching Friends now that it has hit Netflix and I wonder if it was there, too. Seems like a Chanandler Bing thing to say.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 11:44 AM on January 6, 2015

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