Although the children of famous celebrities have always been discussed by the likes of tabloids and Twitter, there’s a new wave of interest in them. Perhaps this can be credited to the buzzy way that they’re being categorized: “nepo babies.” Simultaneously condescending and tinged with envy, the shortened term derived from “nepotism baby” has come into popular use on social media platforms.
This newly sparked interest comes after the realization that many celebrities, from “Euphoria” star Maude Apatow to Angelina Jolie to Jennifer Aniston to Dakota Johnson, are the children of famous people. The internet unraveled as people realized that many of their favorite stars had star parents. It all began when MeriemIsTired on Twitter wrote, “wait I just found out that the actress that plays Lexie is a nepotism baby omg her mom is Leslie Mann and her dad is a movie director lol.” The tweet went viral and spawned a new interest in the children of famous people.
Nepo babies are difficult to categorize, though. Although they are all generally assumed to not work, using their time to advance up the social ladder and tend to weekly manicures, this is not always true.
Some don’t simply float along with their privileged, cushioned lifestyles. There are “nepo babies” of note that attain stardom even greater than their parents and are able to set themselves apart from others. Although Gen Z fails to recognize their parents — perhaps due to a generational divide — nepo babies like Zoe Kravitz and Maude Apatow have been crowned with the term, albeit in an adoring way. Billie Eilish has also been lovingly referred to as a nepo baby, as fans argue that her fame is separate from her parents’ and has certainly eclipsed theirs.
While originally slightly condescending, the term has come to convey a kind of admiration for choice people. As social media has allowed a sort of pseudo-relationship with celebrities, many refer to nepo babies in a more loving way when they are considered to “have talent,” as it means (in people’s eyes) that they haven’t benefited from their families entirely. Of course, that may be a result of careful marketing and advertising — their family’s fame inevitably plays a big part in their own. Hollywood is a delicate, curated facade, and nepo babies that are seemingly separate from their parents are still very much connected.
Nepo babies that ride more obviously on their parents’ coattails are less loved and more shamed. Olivia Jade, the daughter of Lori Loughlin, has often been mocked on the internet for not only her USC scandal, but also just how out of touch she seems to be. While still at USC, Jade, in response to a question about balancing school and social media, said that she didn’t “really care about school” and was more interested in “game days [and] partying.”
Kendall Jenner, daughter of Kris Jenner and a part of the Kardashian-Jenner family, was highly criticized when she began to debut on runways. Many credited her success in such a competitive and ruthless industry to her family — and the hate magnified when it was revealed she was the highest-paid model in the world. Her claim that fame made it “harder” for her to become a model did not help her case in the court of internet opinion.
There is yet another type of nepo baby, though. The kind that relies on their cushy lifestyle, but is loved for doing so. Iris Apatow, sister of Maude Apatow, is one of these. Best friends with the likes of Olivia Rodrigo and Charli D’amelio, the younger Apatow is more relatable.
Nepo babies have also become a bit of a commodity in Hollywood. “Euphoria” star Jacob Elordi has jokingly been referred to as “busy collecting all of the nepo babies.” This is pulled from his dating history, which includes Kaia Gerber and Olivia Jade.
Nepo babies are many, but not all of them are the same. There are hated nepo babies, loved nepo babies, and nepo babies that people don’t even know are products of nepotism. There’s a clear difference between those that are loved and those that are hated. In the end, though, does it really matter? After all, the inner workings of Hollywood are mysterious and impenetrable, even though it feels closer and just a click away.