The internet can be a scary place — full of anti-vaxxers, incels and people who believe that Queen Elizabeth is actually a lizard (is it because her nickname is Lizzie? We’ll never know).
However, for every QAnon follower and email from cash-strapped Nigerian princes, we also have memes. Lots and lots of memes. Memes to help you procrastinate when you should be doing something more productive, memes that perfectly encapsulate that inside joke between you and your closest mates and memes to make you feel — to coin a phrase from the young and hip — “seen.”
Hell, these days a meme can even make you some moola — case in point Zoë Roth (who you might better know as “Disaster Girl”) who sold a viral meme of herself as an NFT for a cool AUD $643,000 earlier in 2021.
The events of 2020 certainly spawned some unforgettable memes, such as the one below, so at least the pandemic was good for something, I guess.
quarantine mood: pic.twitter.com/puAdyMHLBt
— b.b (@benoobrown) April 13, 2020
However, 2021 also delivered its fair share of laughs by way of the interwebs, so let’s take a moment to appreciate our favourite memes from the year.
Matt LeBlanc Became an Honorary Irishman
Piggy-backing off of the Friends theme from above, following the reunion special of the sitcom, the Irish internet went wild for Matt LeBlanc’s inadvertent impersonation of an Uncle from the land of Guinness. The responses were plentiful and hilarious with Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan claiming the actor for her country. “Matt LeBlanc is Irish, I don’t want to see any other nation trying to claim him,” Coughlan Tweeted. “He’s from Tullamore, he drinks milk with his dinner.”
For the record, LeBlanc was born in Massachusetts and is of French and Italian heritage, but that just makes it even funnier.
‘And you paid for them jeans like that ya did, with all them holes already in them?’ pic.twitter.com/mpKFmuevfM
— spochadóir (@spochadoir) May 29, 2021
The Weeknd Paid (Dearly) for His Super Bowl Show
In February, we bore witness to the Super Bowl, in which two teams played some sports and companies paid the income of a small country to advertise for 30 seconds. In amongst all of that, we also got to see what $9 million worth of red jackets looked like when The Weeknd performed the halftime show.
Descending upon the football field to close out his performance with Blinding Lights — the song which inspired that TikTok challenge — with hundreds of mask and red-jacket clad backup dancers, the scene was startling reminiscent of a scene from The Handmaid’s Tale (now with jazz hands!) although props to the performers for being COVID-safe.
And, props to the performance for also spawning some of the best memes to kick off the year.
me immediately after someone gives me specific directions pic.twitter.com/XtAsYjHw91
— Alyssa Limperis (@alyssalimp) February 8, 2021
what my pizza rolls see from inside the microwave pic.twitter.com/GavZzw7cQR
— Ryan Schocket (@RyanSchocket) February 8, 2021
We Really Shipped the Suez Canal for a Bit
In March, a giant container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking the path for other vessels, but clearing the path for some of the greatest memes to hit the interwebs.
While the situation was actually very serious — resulting in not only a backlog of more than 400 ships, a spike in fuel prices and the delay of around $9.6 billion of trade for each of the five days it was stuck, people were quick to make comedy gold out of the incident.
have we done this one yet? pic.twitter.com/bz4lODKUsM
— James Ball (@jamesrbuk) March 25, 2021
And, my personal favourite:
“Were you a CONTAINER ship or were you a CONTAINED ship?” pic.twitter.com/hlmjmRPpFt
— Nike Jock Wrapt 🎁 (@sweetlikeJT) March 30, 2021
The Oprah Effect
The previous meme marks the perfect segue into our next offering that gets an A for effort because Oprah Winfrey is the gift (and, oftentimes, the GIF) that keeps on giving.
After Winfrey interviewed Meghan Markle and Prince Harry about their exit from the Royal Family and the semantics of being silent versus being silenced, the iconic TV host’s reactions sparked all kinds of internet goodness.
Me every time my job asks me to do my job pic.twitter.com/q3Hs5Aubw2
— A Whole Me?? (@sipJENandJuice) March 8, 2021
Went to Target for a few items…
Cashier: Your total is $258.47
— ronnie (@TheRonnieW_) March 9, 2021
me muted on Zoom, but still doing the most with my expressions to show that I’m listening pic.twitter.com/SzOUrPj0h6
— C. (@csher1991) March 9, 2021
I could continue, but I think you get the idea so we’ll move to the next one, shall we?
Smitten With Bernie’s Mittens
We knew that 2021 was going to be a vast improvement on 2020 because a) it was no longer 2020 and b) we started the year with the Idiot-in-Chief being booted from the White House and replaced by two people who actually understand the assignment.
Of course, when your mate gets a sweet promotion, you have to show your support — even if you’d applied for the job yourself — and that is why Bernie Sanders attended the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden back in January.
Sanders showed up looking like the historic event was just one of many things on his to-do list that day, complete with brown mittens and a manilla envelope slung cavalierly under his arm as though he was en route to deliver his receipts to his tax accountant and decided to “swing by.”
Naturally, history was not the only thing made that day — some pretty epic memes were too.
“This could’ve been an email” pic.twitter.com/kn68z6eDhY
— Ashley K. (@AshleyKSmalls) January 20, 2021
Out on the town having the time of my life with a bunch of friends pic.twitter.com/Qu7UpVTKgQ
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) January 20, 2021
showing up to an inauguration with what can only be described as "errands", an incredible power move pic.twitter.com/tf3iqK0fK4
— Matt Buechele (@mattbooshell) January 20, 2021
Too Close to Home
I feel too attacked to even comment on this one so I will instead go and cry in a corner while researching nursing homes and maniacally applying an anti-ageing serum 20 years too late.
Kimmy K, You’ve Done it Again
Kim Kardashian is just the gift that keeps on…meme-ing? After breaking the internet with her butt back in 2014, and serving up plenty of memorable Met Gala looks over the years, her attire for the 2021 high-fashion event really took the cake — which, incidentally, she would not have been able to eat in this look.
— merry kristen🎄 (@kristen_siebs) September 14, 2021
is kim k really going to the met gala as a dementor pic.twitter.com/qbiuGXGaWG
— hannah 🐳 (@hanfromdastreet) September 14, 2021
‘Squid Game’, What Would We Have Done Without You?
Squid Game, as it turned out, was not just the most popular Netflix series of all time and the perfect anecdote to our latest round of lockdown blues, it was also perfect fodder for viral brilliance.
Case in point:
— eunhax💜 (@purplemintx) September 23, 2021
— Anne⚡ (@seoulofmischief) September 19, 2021
— Jafrin⁷🌕 (@antares_ojo_o) October 4, 2021
Red Flags, Everywhere
Ahh, the red flag. If I had a dollar for every one of those I had waved away over the course of my dating life, I’d owe more taxes than Elon Musk.
If only this red flag meme had been a thing sooner, I might have saved myself a lot of time and therapy.
If they put pineapple on their pizza🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— g (@h0erambe) October 12, 2021
"I can better explain over the phone. are you free sometime today for a quick call?" 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— DonYe Taylor (@donyetaylor_) October 12, 2021
When his name starts with any letters between A-Z 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— Cass💓 (@notCMG) October 12, 2021
As a grown woman why do you think you know me based off my birthday?? 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— ♔ LEEK (@Ohh_itsLEEK) October 12, 2021