If you spend any time on the Internet, celebrity news is basically unavoidable, so you might as well hop in and join the mess, right? In recognition of that grim fact, every morning we bring you The Smart Set, our take on the big gossip of the day — done in a refined and always tasteful manner, of course. In doing so day in and day out, we eventually came to love certain paparazzi-flecked stories this year. So, as part of The Atlantic Wire's Year in Review, we've flipped back through the 2012 calendar for a list of our favorite gossip items from the past year. With apologies to Lindsay Lohan (sort of), we've attempted to dwell not so much on the horribly depressing and negative stories that flood the tabloids every day (read: Amanda Bynes) and instead focused on the tales of hope and redemption — in so far as one hopes Chris Brown can really be redeemed (he can't) or one really hopes for Rob and Kristen. And, y'know, we picked some weird stuff, too. This was the year in junk, friends. Rejoice.
In symbolic fashion, the year began with a birth, but not just any birth, a most holy birth. The spawn of American royalty Beyoncé and Jay-Z entered this world, changing it, for the better, forever. The circumstances of the birth have been disputed, but none of that really matters now, for Blue Ivy is here. Yes, the child was deemed Blue Ivy. But why? Could it be have to do with her father's Blueprint albums? Could it be literary? We might never know, because soon enough the name will be canonized (if not copyrighted) and it shall only ever refer to our benevolent leader, Ms. Carter.
We were worried about Demi Moore around this time of year. Following her split in late 2011 from Ashton Kutcher, our cougar-in-chief seemed headed in a downward spiral. By February we found out she was in rehab. But things are now looking up for ol' Demi, who recently squired around a 26-year-old boyfriend (before he, uh, dumped her) and had a jolly old time at Art Basel Miami.
Rihanna came in like a lion and went out with... Demi's ex, Ashton Kutcher? Well, that was the rumor, anyway, that the Barbardian pop sensation showed up at the That '70s Show goof's house and, presumably, a good time was had. But that imagined love affair was brief, as Rihanna later reunited with her ex, Chris Brown, and spent the summer with him at various nightclubs. Well, they were together when he wasn't getting in bottle-hurling fights with Drake, that is. Will these two very potentially actually crazy kids stay together? Tune in next year to find out.
We love meetings of the mind, so we were naturally thrilled to hear that Fox News' Greta Van Susteren had invited Lindsay Lohan to the White House Correspondents' Dinner, a.k.a. Nerd Prom. Whatta pair! What conversations they must have had! How they must have laughed about Meghan McCain! That said, this year has otherwise been depressingly same old, same old for La Lohan. There was unconsciousness, there were car accidents, and there were arrests. And, darkest of all things, there was Liz & Dick.
In the blowsy month of May it became known that Mary-Kate Olsen, one-time child star turned curious adult, was dating real adult Olivier Sarkozy, brother of former French president Nicolas. This improbable pair have since become the subject of a wealth of hilarious and wonderfully bizarre photographs, without any actual textual explanation of their romance to supplement the images. They just exist, Mary-Kate and Olivier, pictured occasionally doing awkward things awkwardly, and that's how we hope they stay. No gushy interviews, no tandem red carpet walks. Just MK and Ollie, smoochin' weird and smokin' cigarettes, forever.
This month shall forever be known as the one in which the aliens stopped occupying Joey Potter's brain. As summer began, the marriage of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise came to an end. Fearing for the welfare of her daughter, Suri, Holmes escaped the Scientology mothership by divorcing Cruise with the aid of her lawyer father. From then on the once reserved alien host re-entered society by doing things like riding the subway and acting in a Broadway play.
Because not all can be well in the forests of Forks, Washington, July was beset by foul weather over that fair town, as one creature of the night betrayed another. Kristen Stewart, pale lady of the smirk, was caught by an Us Weekly photographer cheating on Robert Pattinson, the sir of scowl, with her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders. And while the affair was sordid, that was not the bizarre part of the story. The bizarre part was that Stewart betrayed the rules of starlet-hood by immediately fessing up and apologizing in what has to be the weirdest PR move ever. She loves Rob, she really does. The two were miraculously back together by the time they had to do press for the final Twilight film.
Jennifer Aniston once had it all. She was America's lobster with the hair and the perfect husband, Brad Pitt. But then an evil swept over her glory in the form of Angelina Jolie and she seemed forever cursed. Until this year. Hope was once again restored to our lands as we learned our disgraced princess was to be wed again, this time to Justin Theroux. If there is such a thing as redemption, this is it.
But this month was not all joy; there was also some delicious scandal. The one that captured our hearts? The royal, well, jewels. Yes, Prince Harry played strip billiards in Vegas and got caught in the buff. Honestly, this was bound to happen at some point, but we were happy to see Harry reach this most natural point.
Try to remember the kind of September when Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel weren't married. Yes, though they'd been engaged for some time, it was only early this fall that the wedding plans began to kick into high gear. Toward the end of the month we heard that Justin had a bachelor party, a casual bros 'n' volleyball affair that befit this older, more mature JT. The couple was married the next month in a glitzy, highly examined ceremony in Italy. Of course there's always the threat of doom on the horizon for any celebrity couple, especially one as perfect-seeming as these two, but we hope they make it work somehow. Otherwise that was a lot of money wasted. Like, a lot of money.
If there's anything we've learned this year it's that good (and/or weird) things are not meant to last. That meant the end of Taylor Swift's summer romance with Kennedy scion (and 18-year-old Deerfield junior—seriously, 18 years old and still a high school junior) Conor. We knew this was bound to happen, but boy oh boy were they having a blast during their summer lovin'. It was about as clean-cut and wholesome as the courtship of Ann Romney. The two smooched on the shores of Hyannis Port; they crashed weddings. She bought real estate near her love, because they would always be together forever ever ever. But, alas, in the cold of autumn it became clear that Taylor and Conor might never ever ever be getting back together, and young miss Swift has since taken up with another 18-year-old, beloved mop-top One Directioner Harry Styles.
Before this November, Angus T. Jones was simply a half-man, but this month we learned he was a half-man with convictions. Jones went on a videotaped Charlie Sheen-worthy rant against the show that pays him tons of money. Unlike his former costar, however, Jones's diatribe was fueled by a religious fervor, the kind with major crazy-town overtones. While calling Two and a Half Men "filth" he sat beside a guy who claims that Jay-Z is in alliance with Satan.
And we end as we began. Arriving as an early, gossipy Christmas present, we got the news this month that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catherine, are expecting their first child. We found out that the future King and Queen of all Britain were making way for a baby through unfortunate means — Kate was hospitalized with an illness that is described as extreme morning sickness — but overall the news is happy. Well, yes, OK, there was also that horrible story about the prank call to Kate's hospital that went terribly awry, but other than those two things, this is exciting stuff. A new royal! For the first time in many years! What will he or see be named? What will he or she look like? There are so many questions. And yet, so few ways that the prince or princess' life will ultimately play out.
Inset photos via Tumblr, Associated Press.