So let’s rewind the tape and take a moment to recall the big, the weird and the fun stories that caught our attention for at least a few minutes. 2018, we hardly knew ye.
The Roseanne debacle
Earlier this year, all was rosy for comedian Roseanne Barr: The reboot of her sitcom “Roseanne” was the most-watched show on television and was earning plaudits for its humorous take on the country’s cultural divide — and for offering a rare blue-collar, Trump-supporting protagonist. And then the acerbic Barr’s own politics and twitchy Twitter fingers got the better of her. After a racist tweet targeting Valerie Jarrett, the former adviser to President Obama, ABC pulled the plug on her show, and her former co-stars distanced themselves from her statement.
Barr melted down even further on her favorite social-media platform. The silver lining? The Roseanne-less show was re-re-booted as “The Conners."
That Kanye thing
Kanye West seems to have taken lessons from the Kardashian playbook with his constant headline-making flirtation with all things politics and President Trump. There was some MAGA hat-wearing, and a politics-laden rant after an SNL performance, but the apex of Ye’s year of politics was a 45-minute, televised Oval Office meeting with President Dragon Energy himself, a confab that saw West monologuing on topics as divergent as the 13th Amendment, “male energy” and his own diagnosis of bipolar disorder (the rapper said it was a mistake; he was just sleep-deprived).
The one with Michelle Wolf
When the White House Correspondents' Association picked “Daily Show” contributor Michelle Wolf to be the entertainment for its annual black-tie dinner, the group’s leadership cited her “feminist edge” and “truth-to-power” style. But then Wolf turned up at the dinner with serious burns aimed at the Trump administration (which is part of the job description, remember), and Washington’s swamp people got real mad.
The dinner’s organizers threw Wolf under the bus faster than you can say “we’re revoking your hard pass” and sniffed that her material (she called White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders an “Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women”) was “not in the spirit of the evening.”
White House correspondents ditched the comedian?
Months after that, the WHCA solved its pesky Wolf problem by scrapping altogether the decades-old tradition of having a comedian play the dinner. Instead, the association enlisted esteemed historian Ron Chernow to enlighten the tuxedoed masses packed into the Washington Hilton with some non-punchline-laden material about the importance of the First Amendment. Should be a blast!
On the Trump-hosted “Celebrity Apprentice,” Omarosa Manigault Newman was cast as the villain, a role she reprised when Trump hired her in his administration. The onetime reality TV star publicly expressed loyalty to the president, but once she was maybe-escorted from the White House gate in dramatic fashion, she quickly turned. Omarosa snagged a book deal for a tell-all called “Unhinged” (so, yeah, it was a devastating portrait of her former ally) and aired secret tapes of Trump and her West Wing co-workers.
Sacha Baron Cohen dupes people
Stunt comedian Sacha Baron Cohen was up to his old tricks, adopting several different personas to persuade unsuspecting politicos to step in front of his cameras for a little humiliation. The “Borat” funnyman got former vice president Dick Cheney to autograph a “waterboarding kit,” used a fake “pedophile detector” on unsuccessful Senate candidate Roy Moore, and got former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh to support a program to arm children called “Kinderguardians.”
The life and loves of Donald Trump Jr.
We spent more time than we liked in 2018 following the love life of the president’s eldest son. The Instagram-happy Romeo known as DJTJ first split with wife Vanessa in March, after 12 years of marriage. That breakup prompted a new look at a song that former Danity Kane singer Aubrey O’Day reportedly based on her 2011 romance-gone-south with the first son. Titled “DJT,” the angsty tune includes lyrics like “I thought it was forever at the time but maybe I was lying to myself.” (And, yeah, we also spent more time that we wanted to listening to Aubrey O’Day songs.) And O’Day herself fueled the rumors more recently when she posted a photo of herself on Instagram in front of the White House wearing a shirt that bore a rather rude (and possibly double-entendre-laden) message for its occupant.
Meanwhile, the first son found love again with, unsurprisingly, a Fox News host. He and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who was married to Gavin Newsom when he was San Francisco’s mayor, made things social-media official when he started posting photos of the two on vacation together. Now the couple frequently appear together arm-in-arm at the White House. Who says love is dead?
Forget former first lady Michelle Obama’s holographic, thigh-high boots from Wednesday; the biggest political fashion statement of the year was literally a series of words: “I really don’t care do U?” That was the phrase emblazoned on the back of the jacket that first lady Melania Trump wore for a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border to visit detention facilities used to house immigrant children. The collective freakout was instantaneous, and despite a changing explanation (her spokeswoman first denied it carried any meaning; the president said it was aimed at the media; and Melania Trump herself later said it was for all her haters), the phrase is likely to be included in just about every lengthy story about the first lady — unless she makes an even bolder statement soon.
“Wonder Woman” takes over
For those of us in Washington, this was the Summer of “Wonder Woman,” as the sequel to the blockbuster superhero movie filmed on our fair streets. Lots of people don’t realize that most of the Washington-set shows and movies film elsewhere, aside from grabbing a few “establishing shots” of the city’s iconic spots. HBO’s “Veep” and Netflix’s “House of Cards” film in Maryland, while Showtime’s “Homeland” subs Richmond in for the nation’s capital.
Filming in D.C. meant plenty of sightings of actress Gal Gadot, who plays the Amazonian princess — including a surprise, in-costume visit to a children’s hospital — Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig. Bonus fun? The movie is set in the 1980s, so there were tons of vintage cars around the city, and the crew even re-created the old Commander Salamander storefront in Georgetown.
A very Pence valentine
Okay, so this one hardly moved the needle on the pop culture radar, but we’re including it as a fun aside that reminds us that politicians really are a lot like us after all. Vice President Pence, despite having a full staff and boundless resources at his fingertips, went the saddest Valentine’s Day route ever and snagged flowers for his wife, Karen, at a downtown CVS. It was pink roses, we think, although it’s possible he did what women everywhere dread and opted for the carnations. We got a lot of reaction to this item, with some outraged readers berating us for making fun of the Veep’s Everyguy routine (we swear we weren’t!) and others who were just amused.