What is a fishbowl party? Meaning explained as TikTok users question game in Christmas film The Grinch

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Ron Howard’s 2000 Christmas film has been loved for years - but one particular scene has been raising eyebrows this year

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas has become a festive favourite film since it was released in 2000. Many families across the UK have watched and rewatched the story of how one little girl, Cindy Lou Who, saves christmas">Christmas for the residents of her hometown of Whoville by teaching Christmas-hating green creature The Grinch to love the festive season.

Adults and children alike have loved the tale of Jim Carrey’s Grinch for over 20 years, but this year while watching the Christmas classic some TikTok users have been left scratching their heads over one particular scene - that which depicts the fishbowl party.

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So, just what is the fishbowl scene in the film, what have TikTok users been saying about it, and what is a fishbowl party in real life?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is the fishbowl party scene in The Grinch?

In the film, which is known just as The Grinch here in the UK, Cindy Lou asks about The Grinch’s past. She is told that the green titular character arrived in Whoville during Christmas Eve celebrations, and a flashback sequence follows. In a scene, which is near the beginning of the film, audiences catch a glimpse of the celebrations through the window. In one shot, some of the party attendees are seen putting their keys into a glass fishbowl.

The Grinch, played by Jim Carrey, in the live-action adaptation of the famous Christmas tale, “Dr. Seuss’ “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” directed by Ron Howard. The Grinch, played by Jim Carrey, in the live-action adaptation of the famous Christmas tale, “Dr. Seuss’ “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” directed by Ron Howard.
The Grinch, played by Jim Carrey, in the live-action adaptation of the famous Christmas tale, “Dr. Seuss’ “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” directed by Ron Howard. | Getty Images

What have TikTok users said?

After having watched the scene, some film lovers took to social media website TikTok to question if there is a hidden - and rather naughty - second meaning to the seemingly straight-forward scene.

A video which was uploaded earlier in December by TikTok user @plussizemedium, called “So much adult humour i’ve never noticed before”, has caused quite a stir with other users. In the video, which has the label “The Grinch is wild”, the woman behind the account, called Jena Loo, highlighted the party scene. Ending their video, which has over one million likes, Jena teases its possible suggestive meaning and says “If you know, you know”. She then tells those who didn’t understand to “Google it.”

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Some users complained that they did not understand and asked Jena to reveal the answer, while others said they got it straight away.

What is a fishbowl party in reality?

Social media users seem to think there are two versions of a fishbowl party, and while both are for mature audiences one is definitely more risque than the other. You can be assured though that the little ones won’t understand either meaning.

One version of a fishbowl party is a gathering of people who like to swap sexual partners. The concept is simple, attendees put their keys in to a bowl when they arrive and then people take a key out of the bowl and the person who’s keys they pick is the person they go home with. These parties, also known as swingers parties, can be attended by single people but also married couples who want another partner.

Another, more innocent, reason for putting keys in to a bowl upon arrival at a party could be to ensure that nobody is tempted to drive home after drinking. In a Reddit thread where people were also discussing the scene another user said they believed the gathering of the keys could have been a safety precaution for guests. They said: “I’ve been to parties where they did that so the driver would have to check in with the host to make sure they weren’t too drunk to drive.”

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