Image: This Country
It would be very interesting to pinpoint the exact transitional moment when .gifs ceased to be the tool of internet savvy forum users, and became the property of Facebook mums. Maybe we all cottoned onto a less-is-more approach to our internet visual comedy, but there’s something about .gifs these days that just feels a bit… stale. Maybe it’s their eerie silence. The more I think about it, the more deeply sinister THAT .gif of Jennifer Lawrence doing a spit take over and over in silence feels, like some cursed Parisian mime doomed to splutter her drink out for all eternity.
As far as I’m concerned, nothing sums up my feelings better than a reaction picture. I’ve spent my years on online building up a 544 image-strong reaction pics gallery from all corners of the internet, and now think of it as my personal pop culture emoji keyboard. And because it feels selfish to horde all these classics to myself, here are fifteen of the funniest for all occasions:
15 - Zainab Masood screaming
The pure fear in everyone’s favourite homophobic Eastenders aunt’s eyes is priceless. Best used reacting to some frightening news, like when we heard the rumours that Jess Glynne would be singing this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert song.
14 - Tina Malone and Mutya Buena in bed
The fact there was a time on television where we were watching one of the greatest vocalists Britain has ever seen sharing a bed with the Scouse equivalent of Meryl Streep is enough of a reason to storm the Channel 4 head office and refuse to leave until Big Brother is put back on the telly.Best used when you wake up more tired and exhausted than you were when you went to bed.
13 – Coleen Nolan staring blankly into the abyss
There’s something really haunting about this image of Coleen Nolan, which I’ve found awfully useful this year, considering the amount of harrowing headlines and tweets we’ve had to endure. This one is at its most potent when you need to react to your manager announcing there’s going to be an office-wide Microsoft Teams dance class so you and your colleagues can “virtually bond”.
12 – Gemma Collins in the rain
There’s something deeply sobering about seeing the GC looking so sombre. Gone is the glitz and glamour, replaced with a moody despair. It’s the visual equivalent of “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter. A useful one when you’ve just missed the bus, got splashed as a car went through a puddle, and your leek and potato soup’s leaked all over your bag at 8.30AM.
11 - Squat and squint
Timeless squat and squinter Kalin Elisa has been a mainstay in reaction pic circles for years. Bonus points for the fact it doubles up as squinting and as out of breath after some exercise. Get an awful lot of use out of this when a celebrity decides to tweet a scrawly handwritten announcement / tracklist / apology. Just stick to the bloody notes app like everyone else!
10 - Charity Shop Sue straining her neck
Gay Twitter’s equivalent of that “holding it in” meme. The first lady of charity shopping with neck veins to rival Deirdre Barlow is perfect for when you’re about to explode with frustration, but you just know it’s not worth it –like when you’ve just walked 30 minutes in the rain to get a chippy but arrive to a closed sign and remember it’s shut on Tuesdays.
9 – Gogglebox’s Jenny and Lee staring in disapproval
The best duo to ever grace a caravan sum it all up with their steely stares here. Gogglebox constantly provides reaction pic gold, whether its Manc dad Tom Malone frowning or Woerdenweber matriarch Viv cackling with a brew. Jenny & Lee’s expressions of dismay are the best of the lot.
8 – Alison Hammond grinning in bed
National treasure Alison Hammond radiates nothing but unadulterated joy. Nothing captures the raw bliss of scrolling through your phone in bed after a weekend lie in and seeing UberEats are doing two hours of free delivery like this corker.
7 – White Dee having a doorway cig
Dee Kelly from Benefits Street is an underrated princess of reality TV, and it’s only right that she lives on through the cacophony of reaction pics she’s provided. There’s a delicious, raw bluntness to White Dee pics – she always manages to look like that nosy neighbour who knew John from number 42 was shagging the woman from the dry cleaners before everyone else.
6 – Daisy May Cooper changing the channel
The This Country creator is easily one of the funniest people in the UK, and was a perfect addition to Celebrity Gogglebox. The breathtaking image of her tediously skipping through telly channels in Primark pyjamas should be hanging in the Louvre.
5 – Tina Malone aghast
The blend of disbelief and exasperation on Liverpool’s finest export is absolutely unmatched. I got extra mileage out of this picture during COVID, considering she looks like half the population after months of Zoom quizzes, family FaceTimes and walking an extra 40 minutes to the big Asda just to feel something.
4 – Gail Platt from Corrie cowering in fear
This is Zainab from Eastenders screaming kicked up 100 notches. This is for when what you’re reacting to feels like a personal attack – like the news that AJ and Curtis Pritchard, AKA the most cursed siblings in showbusiness, are doing a 30 date theatre tour of the UK.
PS: Helen Worth deserves an Oscar for the performance she’s delivering in that picture alone.
3 – Peter Griffin staring at phone in bed
In an online world of too-dreadful-to-believe articles, tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram pictures, it doesn’t really get more useful than this. Every bad headline. Every naff tweet. Every shit take. Peter Griffin’s got you covered.2. Gemma Collins moaning in ecstasy
Nothing summarises my phwoaring and corrrring like this classic of The GC. Gorka from Strictly posts shirtless pic? Tweet this. Just ordered a massive Chinese takeaway? Tweet this. The Pogues calling Laurence Fox a “herrenvolk shite”? Tweet this.
1 – Marge Simpson looking sheepish next to miscellaneous seafood
Perfect for every embarrassing, controversial or uncool hot take you feel the need to share on Twitter. There’s really no finer example for its usage than when my phone made a mockery of me after I upgraded it to iOS 14 and the new widget feature slapped me right in the face with my Pornhub usage.@harrisonjbrock