The Main Characters of 2021, From Bean Dad To Nicki Minaj's Cousins
Illustration by Brandon Celi

The Unlikely Stars of a Truly Stupid Year

Remember Bean Dad? The Suez boat thing? Nicki Minaj's cousin's friend? 2021 was mayhem—let's review.
New York, US
illustrated by Brandon Celi

Throughout the year, a series of unlikely stars took turns thrusting themselves into the spotlight. There was the bean dad. The bee lady. The boat. Where did they come from, and why? Will we ever think of them again? Unclear. But in our era of fleeting attention spans, they achieved something: They broke through the noise. For reasons good and bad, they were the 15 main characters of 2021.

Bean Dad

Give your child some beans and she eats for a day. Force her to spend six hours trying to figure out how to use a can opener to teach her a lesson then tweet about it proudly and the internet mocks you for a lifetime.

Nick Minaj's cousin's friend

For someone so instantly famous, did anyone ever actually find this guy? Seems like it wouldn’t be that hard?

Boat that got stuck in the Suez Canal

Could not back that thang up : (

Jeopardy producer host scandal

Category: Hubris. Answer: This previously unknown TV producer gave himself the much-contested hosting job of Jeopardy before imploding in a shameful scandal of his own making. Question: Who is not LeVar Burton?

MGK Megan Fox couple i am weed

Rooting for these crazy kids. It’s 2021—if you want to be weed, be weed.

TikTok beekeeper bee lady

For years, environmentalists have been warning that pesticides are causing bee extinction. Apparently also toxic? Rival beekeepers.

Lord Miles Routledge afghanistan twitch

Just as U.S. forces were pulling out of Afghanistan in disarray, this British guy with a fake nobility certificate popped down to log a few hours on Twitch. His subsequent evacuation was sadly not streamed.

NY Times Bad Art Friend

We've been trying to reach you about your car's extended warranty my non-directed kidney transplant.

Chet Hanks White Boy Summer meme

The only thing more embarrassing to Tom Hanks than Larry Crowne.

i'm not a cat lawyer

I object (to being a cat).
Toe beans on the Bible, your Honor: I’m not a cat.


To be fair—meat products aside—a condiment-heavy, sustenance-free wasteland is what I imagine most vegan fridges look like, even if they are New York’s mayor-elect.

instagram baloon guy

In an interview with VICE, this prolific Instagram artist said, “The cringe is kind of the point.” So the project is a great success, then!

reddit wallsteetbets gamestop stock

Picture this: It’s The Wolf of Wall Street, but nobody’s wearing a suit and everyone smells terrible.

Bernie Sanders inauguration mittens

For when you have to go to Joe Biden’s inauguration (which was somehow this year).

substack new media

I hate it when I’m so thoroughly persecuted by the Mainstream Media that I’m forced to accept a six-figure lump sum from a tech company in exchange for exclusive access my unedited,Editorial Guide 12-sentence paragraph diatribes that inevitably revolve around how I’m so thoroughly persecuted by the Mainstream Media that I’m forced to—