The 'I Understood The Assignment' TikTok Audio Explained

A social media trend has reached peak popularity whenever brands start participating in it; by the time junior creatives and social media interns finish pitching and explaining a trend for approval, it's probably already been seen on every platform. So, with that in mind, it should be easy to backtrack the timeline of a trend to learn more about it when a brand joins in on the fun. One glaring exception is the Duolingo Owl — that's one up-to-date bird.

McDonalds' "I understood the assignment" era on Twitter began in the second half of 2021. So did Starbucks'. With a calculation based on conjecture, the trend can be traced back to the beginning of 2021. We looked to Know Your Meme for confirmation, and it turns out we were right. This is what high school teachers meant when they said that we'd use math after graduating.

This particular phrase has garnered extreme attention across all social media platforms. On TikTok, videos submitted under the "I understood the assignment" hashtag have received more than 600 million views; an excess of 30,000 posts wear it on Instagram. But what does it mean? And why is there an entire song dedicated to it? Read on to learn more.

The 'I understood the assignment' trend has been used by celebrities

How was the "I understood the assignment" trend created? In March 2021, a Twitter user @thering26 posted stills of Uma Thurman in numerous acting roles. "Uma Thurman will always understand the assignment," the accompanying text read. Soon, the phrase and meme format spread across Twitter like wildfire; it is used to describe someone who knows how to get the job done (via Know Your Meme). The meme format is particularly popular for talking about actors who can pull off very different roles with top-notch acting.

A few months later, artist Tay Money put a new spin on the trend. She released a song that claimed she understood "The Assignment." The artist herself used a part of the song that said "I understood the assignment" on TikTok. This led to a trend of people posting accomplishments and stories that proved that they knew what was expected of them and went above and beyond (via Know Your Meme). 

Even celebrities hopped on the trend. Taylor Swift used it to promote "All Too Well" (via YouTube) and basically immortalized the phrase. There are currently around 250 million views on the "the assignment" hashtag on TikTok. It also led to the creation of another relatable sound that remixes Tay Money's song with Reese Witherspoon in "Legally Blonde" saying, "Actually, I wasn't aware that we had an assignment." And that's how one meme took over the internet.