2021 was a tough year, no one can deny that. It was a year of isolation, unfamiliar and unknown things happening around us, and a general feeling of helplessness that we couldn’t quite shake.
But it was also a year of incredible triumphs in the world of pop culture and celebrity news. It was a history-making year for the royal family — with more goss than to last us a lifetime — Paris Hilton got married, Lindsay Lohan got engaged and one of our favourite ever Hollywood couples, Bennifer, became romantically reacquainted.
I couldn’t include them all, so I chose my top five celebrity stories this year that have sparked joy. Reminisce with me.
#FreeBritney Actually Freed Britney
So much has happened in the world of Britney Spears and her fans (literally all of us) this year. Not only have her dedicated fans, who started the #FreeBritney movement, brought attention to the dehumanising and extremely controlling conservatorship that she’d been under for 13 years, but they ultimately helped her achieve legal freedom. This is the first time we’ve ever seen a group of super-fans create such positive change in the life of a pop star.
Starting back in 2019, fans started to notice Britney’s Instagram presence as being a little strange. Some fans thought it was a cry for help. Upon digging deeper, they managed to find out about Britney’s conservatorship, which then led to the #FreeBritney hashtag, protests to free her, documentaries, media coverage… the works. What was revealed in the process, was really devastating. With multiple documentaries on Britney’s life and what led to the conservatorship, there’s a really apparent underlying theme of the greed that comes with money, and the misogyny that took place less than a decade ago. While shocking and extremely sad, it’s pretty incredible to see how times are changing, with women, men and everyone in between fighting for a woman’s right to her own fortune, lifestyle and career.
Since being freed from the conservatorship, heaps has happened for Britney. She got engaged to her longtime boyfriend Sam Asghari, she has publicly spoken out against her family, as well as that shocking 2003 Diane Sawyer interview and has announced new music in the works. Welcome back, bitch!
Tessa Thomspon’s Sex Positive Spree in Sydney
This wasn’t a super viral story, but we absolutely liveeed for it. Back in May, American actress Tessa Thompson was down in Australia, shooting the film Thor: Love and Thunder and while she was here, she got her flirt on.
First, she was spotted in a three-way kiss with Taika Waititi and Rita Ora — iconic. They were giving us “morning after” energy, all dressed in comfy clothes, sitting on a balcony, drinking what looked like juice (or mimosas?!) and engaging in a relaxed three-way kiss. We now know that Taika and Rita are in a serious relationship (it was only rumoured at the time), so perhaps they invited Tessa to bed for the night? Whatever the set-up, we’re here for it. There was no hiding, just pure, shameless, sex positive energy.
Then, on the same day but in a different outfit — this babe is truly iconic — Tessa was papped kissing Australian model Zac Stenmark. Papped on a walk together, laughing and kissing, both looking gorgeous and living their best lives… this was the energy we needed in 2021.
The media coverage around these paparazzi photos were as positive as our reactions, which was so refreshing to see. There were no slut-shaming headlines, or questioning whether Tessa was in a serious relationship with any of these babes (although Twitter really wanted to know is Tessa, Taika and Rita were in a throuple, and who can blame them?), most of the coverage was very “yaaaas girl” energy.
We always loved Tessa, but after this sex positive spree down under, we love her even more.
Jonah Hill’s Body Positive Moment
Jonah Hill is pretty well-known for his role as the cute, chubby dude in many a comedy movie made by Seth Rogen, but this year, Jonah spoke out about his changed perspective when it comes to his body.
Earlier this year, Jonah addressed his struggles with body image that were exacerbated “by years of public mockery” about his body “by press and interviewers”. He finally clapped back at a shirtless photo of himself that found its way onto Daily Mail.
Hill shared the Daily Mail photo and headline to his Instagram with the caption: “I don’t think I ever took my shirt off in a pool until I was in my mid 30’s even in front of family and friends. Probably would have happened sooner if my childhood insecurities weren’t exacerbated by years of public mockery about my body by press and interviewers.”
“So the idea that the media tries to play me by stalking me while surfing and printing photos like this and it can’t phase me anymore is dope. I’m 37 and finally love and accept myself. This isn’t a ‘good for me’ post. And it’s definitely not a ‘feel bad for me post’.
“It’s for the kids who don’t take their shirt off at the pool. Have fun. You’re wonderful and awesome and perfect. All my love.”
A few other celebrities, including Camila Cabello and Lili Reinhart have had important moments calling out body shamers this year, but Jonah’s stood out to us. It’s not often that you see men speak out about this stuff, but it’s super important, because they need representation too.
Jonah also has a new boo, Sarah Brady, and the pair are literally the most wholesome surf couple we’ve ever seen.
Pete Davidson & Kimmy K
I mean, this one speaks for itself. 2021 has been the year where we’ve all been in total awe of Pete Davidson’s ability to charm some of Hollywood’s most beautiful women, and while Ariana Grande, Phoebe Dynevor and Kate Beckinsale are all totally sublime, we never in a million years dreamed that Pete would begin a relationship with Kim Kardashian.
We’re all still a bit shook, partly for Kim’s previous taste in men being nothing like Pete Davidson (although looks aren’t everything) and also because we’re still getting over the iconic duo that was Kimye. I mean, we love Kim and Pete though. We should’ve paid more attention to Ariana’s Thank U Next line about him… maybe a big d*ck has more gravitas than we give it credit.
Personally, I hope they stay together. As a girl who was very much into skinny sk8er bois as a teen, I genuinely feel seen.
The Friends Reunion
It might not have been everything we dreamed and more, but the Friends Reunion was still pretty epic. To see Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer and Lisa Kudrow back on their original Friends set and talking about the iconic TV series, really gave us some comforting nostalgia. Not only was it totally iconic, but much appreciated during such a mental year.
We also found out that Jen and David — who played Rachel and Ross — actually had a real life thing for each other while filming, which was literally everything. Going back to watch all their romantic moments on the show, knowing that they had feelings for each other but weren’t in the position to act on them, gives us LIFE. If you haven’t done that yet, save it for a hungover morning or a bit of a blue day. It will give you all the feels in the best way.