tough questions

What Even Is a Mandalorian?

Photo: Disney

This weekend, the world united in pursuit of one common question: What is a Mandalorian? We know it is the subject of Disney+’s new Star Wars spinoff show, The Mandalorian, directed by a host of renowned filmmakers and somehow featuring Werner Herzog. But what … is it?

I asked my boyfriend, who watched the first two episodes and “has seen all the Star Wars movies but is not familiar with the extended lore,” if he could offer a little in the way of explanation. “It’s the guy. He’s the Mandalorian,” he said. Yes, but …? I persisted. “I don’t know, but I know he’s a Mandalorian because I think at one point Werner Herzog says to him: ‘You are a Mandalorian.’”

Unsatisfied, I asked Google, and was told that Mandalorins are simply “people from the planet Mandalore.” That did little to clarify matters. What is a Mandalorian? Does anyone know? I reached out to my colleagues at the Cut to see if they could provide any insight.

“It’s a musical instrument. Like the Violin is to the Viola, so is the Mandalorian to the Mandolin.” — Rachel Bashein, managing editor

“I think it’s the hotel in Jane the Virgin.” — Kerensa Cadenas, culture editor

“It sounds like some sort of cell reproduction process that I half-learned in high-school bio.” — Izzy Grinspan, deputy style editor

“You know how every once in a while it seems like everyone you know is talking about some band? But you’ve never heard of the band in your life? And it’s like, apparently everyone has been listening to this band forever and talking about it privately, I guess? Keeping it a secret? And now they’re all Instagramming from their concert with the sound on in their Instagram stories? Why? Who even is this band? Maybe Mandalorian is that.” — Kelly Conaboy, senior writer

“It’s a fancy spa package. Like with the Mandalorian treatment you get a gold bath, and someone fans you with the finest fronds.” — Bridget Read, senior writer

“Well, I come from a Star Wars household, so I knew this was a Star Wars thing. My younger brother has been tweeting passionately about it. But I don’t know what the object is. It sounds like the car from Back to the Future. Someone couldn’t think of a name for something and built off that.” — Katie Heaney, senior writer

“It sounds like a kind of citrus fruit, possibly horned, definitely you could buy it at Whole Foods. If I’m permitted a second guess I’d say it’s the title of a poem by John Updike (the word does not actually appear in the poem).” — Hannah Gold, writer

“Probably some kind of fucked-up car with flames on it.” — Jordan Larson, senior editor

If only there were people on the internet willing to explain Star Wars to me, but as it is, we may never know. I think it’s a kind of bird.

What Even Is a Mandalorian?