Small Details In Taylor Swift's Anti-Hero Video That Only Superfans Caught

This feature contains references to body shaming and eating disorders.

Taylor Swift's tenth studio album, "Midnights," hit the internet at (when else) midnight on October 21st, 2022. Three hours later, she dropped a "chaotic surprise" — a re-released version of the album with seven additional tracks, dubbed the "3 a.m. Edition." A few hours before that, she aired a teaser during Amazon Prime's Thursday Night Football broadcast, showing glimpses of what she called "music movies" for "Midnights." In other words, it's a visual album! Featuring Laura Dern! What a night to be a Swiftie.

The first installment of the "Midnights" visuals was shared on YouTube on the morning of October 21st, 2022. It's a music video for lead single "Anti-Hero," about which she said in an Instagram video, "[It] is one of my favorite songs I've ever written."

The music video is a visual treat, featuring everyone's favorite blondie confronting her insecurities and fears. After all, what else are you going to do with yourself when the clock strikes midnight? Like all her best videos, it's full of references, in-jokes, clues, and Easter eggs. So of course, we've got a breakdown of small details in the "Anti-Hero" music video that only superfans caught.

The Fearless tour outfit's meaning

During the funeral scene that makes up the majority of the last half of the music video, Future Taylor's sons and daughter-in-law bicker about her will. The music video directly stages the lyrics from the bridge of the song, which state, "I have this dream my daughter-in-law kills me for the money. She thinks I left them in the will. The family gathers 'round and reads it, and then someone screams out, 'She's laughing up at us from hell!'" As the family gathering devolves into a shouting match, Chad ("Search Party" star, John Early) points out to Kimber (Mary Elizabeth Ellis), "You're literally wearing her clothes right now." When she denies it, Preston (Mike Birbiglia) jumps in to bluntly proclaim, "That's from the 'Fearless Tour,' 2009." It's true — Kimber even has her hair curled like Swift's used to be in her younger years.

That's not exactly a small detail, since it's called out in the dialogue. However, true Swifties may recall that the outfit was worn during her performance of "I'm Only Me When I'm With You," from her self-titled debut album, per Genius. It's an ironic outfit choice for a funeral where the family bickers, considering that the song's music video is all about how much she loves her real-life family.

Marjorie's in the bathroom

As she revealed in an Instagram video, "Anti-Hero" is all about Taylor Swift confronting her insecurities. "This song really is a real guided tour throughout all the things I tend to hate about myself," she explained. As such, in one of the video's scenes, her evil alter-ego puts her through her paces by taking her into the bathroom and forcing her to step on the scale. Numberless, it reads merely "fat." 

Swift's work has occasionally referenced her experiences with body image issues and eating disorders. This theme was particularly notable in "All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) [From the Vault]," in which she sang, "I'm a soldier returning half her weight." In the Netflix documentary, "Miss Americana" (via Variety) she also explained that intense tabloid scrutiny over her appearance once triggered feelings of body dysphoria and made her stop eating. 

However, superfans may notice something else going on in the bathroom scene. Hanging behind Swift is a photograph of Marjorie Finlay, an opera singer ... and Swift's grandmother. The performer was the inspiration for the song, "marjorie," on Swift's 9th album, "evermore," in which she sang, "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were still around. I know better, but I still feel you all around." The inclusion of Finlay in the scene is clear — no matter how low she feels, Swift's grandmother is always watching over her.

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Some familiar ghostly accessories

Early in "Anti-Hero," Taylor Swift sings, "When my depression works the graveyard shift, all of the people I've ghosted stand there in the room." The music video makes this literal when she is haunted by figures standing in the room under sheets. She runs and hides from these bedsheet apparitions that seem to pop up everywhere she looks.

The music video features various aspects of Swift's personality and anxieties coming to life, most notably in the alter ego that follows her around, goading her into feeling bad about herself. The ghosts, it seems, are more manifestations of Swift herself, suggesting that she may have "ghosted" previous incarnations of her personality. How do we know? Check out the accessories. One wears a cowboy hat, perhaps nodding to her country-music past. One wears the red heart-shaped shades that Swift famously wore in the music video for "22." Another ghost is even wearing the rhinestone cat ears from the same music video. 

Ghosting other people is bad enough. Ghosting yourself, it seems, is really something to feel guilty about.

The Holiday book

When Taylor Swift is cowering in the corner from ghosts in the "Anti-Hero" music video, we are able to glimpse a coffee table book sitting on a bookshelf. Eagle-eyed viewers will note that the yellow spine of the book reads "Holiday." It appears to resemble Pamela Fiori's book "Holiday: The Best Travel Magazine that Ever Was," about a legendary publication that took viewers around the world.

However, the spine of the book appears to have been edited to remove the book's subtitle. All that leaves us with is "Holiday," which might just be a reference to one of the singer-songwriter's finest property purchases. In 2013, Swift bought the Holiday House, one of Rhode Island's premiere pieces of real estate. According to Fancy Pants Homes, she reportedly paid $17.75 million for the mansion. As claimed by Vulture, the star was apparently not well-liked by Rhode Island locals who blamed her for an increase in both traffic and taxes. 

Understandably, the "Lover" songstress evidently became fascinated with her house's history. For her 2020 album "folklore," Swift wrote a song called "the last great american dynasty" about Rebekah Harkness, the socialite musician who used to live there. "Holiday House sat quietly on that beach, free of women with madness, their men, and bad habits. And then it was bought by me," she sings on the track. Might Holiday House be the beach house referred to in the "Anti-Hero" music video, which Swift says she wants to turn into a cat sanctuary?

Her evil twin's snakeskin boots

In "Anti-Hero," Taylor Swift is surprised by a doppelgänger version of herself who shows up on her front step. The provocatively-dressed double seems more outgoing, more down-to-business, and more like a persona than the actual Taylor. The alter ego teaches her lessons, body shames her, and insists, "Everyone will betray you."

This character is the manifestation of the song's chorus, which finds Swift admitting, "It's me. Hi, I'm the problem, it's me." The singer seems to have fully bought into all the criticism she's received throughout her career, leaning into the idea that her nice-girl persona was just an act and that maybe she's more anti-hero than the straight-up protagonist she'd like to be. However, as the song goes on, Swift sounds more and more exhausted each time she sings the chorus, clearly only agreeing to be the anti-hero because she's tired of insisting that she isn't.

These were also themes she explored on her album "Reputation," which leaned fully into the backlash she received after Kim Kardashian infamously posted a recording of a phone call between Swift and Kanye West. One of the primary images she played with during that era was that of a snake — the reptiles are all over the music video for "Look What You Made Me Do," for one. And would you check out those boots the alter ego wears in the "Anti-Hero" music video? They're snakeskin!

A shoutout to Taylor Swift's real-life cats

It's no secret that Taylor Swift loves her cats. "They're very dignified. They're independent. They're very capable of dealing with their own life," she once told Time. The star frequently shows off her furry feline friends on social media, including one TikTok featuring a clip of her admitting during an interview, "Three cats is a cat lady. Two cats is a party." For the record, she's in the former category, as evidenced by her cuddling up to the three kitties in the TikTok. 

In the "Anti-Hero" music video, Swift imagines a future where her family has gathered for the reading of her last will and testament. As the lyrics propose, her daughter-in-law has killed her for her money, but the family is surprised to learn that they have been left out of the will. Instead, observant Swifties will notice that someone else is the beneficiary of Swift's considerable fortune: "Meredith Grey Swift," "Olivia Benson Swift," and "Benjamin Button Swift," which are the names of Swift's cats in real life. 

In a previous music video easter egg, longtime fans will recall that Ellen Pompeo, who plays Meredith Grey on "Grey's Anatomy," and Mariska Hargitay, who plays Olivia Benson on "Law & Order: SVU," both appeared in the music video for "Blank Space."

She's the archer, and she's the prey

The often emotional songs Taylor Swift puts at Track 5 on her tracklists tend to end up as fan favorites. On "Lover," that was "The Archer," a heartfelt song about facing her insecurities. It bears some lyrical similarity to many of the songs on "Midnights." She even sings, "I wake in the night, I pace like a ghost" — two images that very much crop up on "Midnights" and more specifically on "Anti-Hero." Furthermore, in "The Archer," she sings, "I've been the archer and I've been the prey," while in the "Anti-Hero" music video, she's both. Swift is the prey in the sense that she's shot by a literal arrow, but her alter ego is also a metaphorical archer, lobbing insults and insecurities at her.

The music video may contain another reference to "The Archer." During the scene where a larger-than-life Swift crawls into a small space where a dinner party is taking place, a boy with a bow and arrow dashes into the room and hits her in the shoulder. She bleeds purple, glittery goo — the same stuff that trickled out of the eggs at the beginning of the video. The shimmering, gelatinous substance is perhaps a reference to her recent explanation to Apple (via Billboard) about how she categorizes her own songs. For her poppier tracks, she stated, "Glitter Gel Pen songs have lyrics that make you want to dance, sing and toss glitter around the room."

The smashed up koi guitar

When Taylor Swift's evil twin first shows up on her doorstep in the "Anti-Hero" music video, they initially seem to be getting along. Chipper, she sings, "It's me. Hi, I'm the problem, it's me," while scenes of the two doing shots together and high-fiving play out on screen. It can be fun to root for the anti-hero, and as she did on "Reputation," and Swift seems to be leaning toward the idea.

Another sequence during this part of the video shows the modern Swift playing an acoustic guitar, while the doppelgänger smashes the same guitar into the ground. Observant superfans will note that the guitar she's playing is blue, with orange koi fish swimming around the sound hole and along the fretboard. If that looks familiar, it's because she played the same guitar on the Speak Now Tour. According to Taylor Swift Style, the star received the Koi Living Jewels instrument by Taylor Guitars as a gift while working on her self-titled debut album. Apparently, only 100 guitars with this design were ever made ... and the evil-twin Taylor Swift smashes one in the "Anti-Hero" music video.

The scene could represent her poppier persona obliterating the singer-songwriter country vibe she cultivated on her first few albums. After all, "Speak Now" was the last album before she switched up her style with "RED."

The card in the flowers

Taylor Swift superfans love picking apart everything she does, looking for clues and easter eggs (take this very article, for example ...). The music video for "Anti-Hero" pokes gentle fun at the idea in the scene where Swift's sons and daughter-in-law read her will and are disappointed by what they find. "There's probably a secret encoded message that means something else!" Chad exclaims, certain he's cracked the case. Preston reads the rest of the will, and states, "There's no secret encoded message that means something else." 

However, moments later, there's a shot of a notecard nestled into some flowers by the casket. It's hard to make out, but you better believe we've tried! The figures of "1989" are pretty clear — perhaps as a teaser for the potential of "1989 (Taylor's Verison)" dropping soon after? Or simply to tease those of us who long for it. The word "Revolution" also seems to be evident. Though some fans speculated it read "Reputation," in reference to Swift's sixth studio album, it appears to actually say "Revolution Pictures," which just so happens to be the name of the production company that made the "Anti-Hero" music video alongside Swift's own production team.

Now, what does it all mean? What are those other words or numbers? Well, that's still to be determined ... or maybe the will isn't lying, and it all means nothing.

A small inheritance of significance

If there's one thing even casual fans know about Taylor Swift, it's that she loves the number 13. The star was born on December 13, 1989, and she uses the number everywhere she can. It's even part of her Twitter username — @taylorswift13. Fans love to play games where they find the number everywhere they can in Swift's output. The "Midnights" release date, after all, is 10/21, and 10 + 2 + 1 = 13. Okay, okay ... we can feel you rolling your eyes. But some 13s are less of a stretch and are likely intentional. For example, the album has 13 tracks.

The ever-important number also pops up in the "Anti-Hero" music video, shocking and disgusting the characters who represent her grown-up children. As the lyrics of "Anti-Hero" state, "She thinks I left them in the will." However, the characters are appalled to learn that they haven't been left Swift's untold fortune instead, they will receive a mere 13 cents.