HBO Max dropped a brand-new mystery Thursday night, and viewers have been buzzing about it on social media ever since.
But as with most mysteries, this one has a twist. It wasn’t a show. Instead, it was a cryptic email sent out to some subscribers, and now — spoiler alert! — the popular streaming service has revealed the culprit behind the whodunit.
It all started when users received a message with the subject line “Integration Test Email #1.” In the body, it read, “This template is used by integration tests only.” And that’s it. Soon Twitter was flooded with jokes about the email, as well as a debate about whether it was simply an innocent gaffe or a clever marketing strategy to get people talking.
While it accomplished the latter, HBO Max insists it was the former.
“We mistakenly sent out an empty test email to a portion of our HBO Max mailing list this evening,” a late-night tweet from the service read. “We apologize for the inconvenience, and as the jokes pile in, yes, it was the intern. No, really. And we’re helping them through it.”
A heart emoji followed the explanation, which seems appropriate given how much some subscribers loved the funny fallout from the mistaken message. Even HBO bigwig Jason Kilar, who’s the CEO of WarnerMedia, got in on the joke.
Kilar tweeted a checklist of hot offerings from the streaming service, including “Mare of Easttown,” the “Friends” reunion and, of course, “Integration Test Email #1.”
And his bit of hilarity was in good company.
One person wrote, “INBOX: Integration Test Email #1, an intriguing new drama from HBO Max,” while another leaned into that joke with “Lol if it turns out the HBO Max email goof is a stunt for a new show called Integration Test Email then congrats to the marketing team.”
Others responded with their faux enthusiasm for next season’s “Integration Test Email #2.”
But things changed after HBO tweeted out the real story behind the email, as the unnamed intern blamed for the mistake suddenly became the subject of sympathy, empathy and a whole lot of encouraging advice.
“Intern, you're doing great,” cheered one user. “This'll be a great answer when an interviewer asks ‘what's the biggest production error you've made’. This isn't your fault, it should not have been possible for this to happen. @HBOMaxHelp very uncool to throw intern under the bus, even anonymously.”
According to another, this mistake was actually a boon — sort of. “Good job being part of the discovery of a new vulnerability. You'll be part of the solution to prevent this from happening again!”
And from many commenters, the main message to the anonymous intern was just, “we’ve all been there :)”
All the same, here’s hoping that particular intern doesn’t go there again.