The Horniest Things That Happened in 2018

Reflections on the thirstiest moments of this year, including the Hot Duck, bisexual lighting, and, of course, a certain tweet about Beto.

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Dec 4 2018, 2:22pm

Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images.

Whatever 2018 was, one fact of it is clear: People, as is often their way, were total horndogs. We learned about the art and science of determining whether someone possesses Big Dick Energy. We remembered the fictional characters of yore, and all sorts of first times that were formative to our current hornball selves as we exist today. Above all, we bore witness to the following moments in culture that became modern emblems for thirst as it played out this year. Here, we give you the horniest phenomena in culture of 2018, and what they meant to us.


The Horny Beto Tweet

I’m pleased we’ve all decided that this is what we call it: “Horny Beto Tweet.” It’s a good place to start from, agreeing on the terms. Now, some context: Political commentator Leah McElrath is the author of this tweet, which she posted on November 11, five days after Beto O’Rourke lost his Texas Senate race to incumbent Ted Cruz. Because we live in a hell world, rumors immediately swirled that O’Rourke would pivot to launching a 2020 presidential bid, joining the likes of Richard Ojeda, the West Virginia Democrat who’d just announced his presidential campaign after a congressional loss, and Michael Avenatti, who’d been hinting at 2020 ambitions.

O’Rourke, McElrath seemed to suggest, would make the best presidential candidate not because of his policies, but because he can fuck.

Since there isn’t space enough for me to conduct a dissertation-length gender studies analysis of this tweet, I’ll just say that there’s something about it that, for me, really sums up 2018 and how “horniness” became one of its predominant structures of feeling: We’re politically fatigued. We’re somehow both over- and understimulated by a daily barrage of depressing and demoralizing news items. Everything is happening, but also, nothing. Why settle for being bored when you can be incredibly—and publicly!—horny instead? Long live the Horny Beto Tweet.

Anthony Lane’s lust over thicc Elastigirl

I haven’t seen Incredibles 2, but, honestly, I don’t think that’s too much of a problem for my purposes. We’re here today to talk about the incredible horniness of New Yorker movie critic Anthony Lane, who did in fact see the franchise’s second installment, and devoted a not-not-small portion of his review of it to how hot he finds Elastigirl, otherwise known as “Mrs. Incredible” or “the thicc mom from The Incredibles.”

In his review, which came out in June, Lane tells us that if you go to a showing of Incredibles 2, you’ll be able to hear the sound of “parents squirming awkwardly beside their enraptured offspring” because they’re horny, like he is. They’re horny for Mrs. Incredible, who he says “kind of [looks] like Anastasia in Fifty Shades of Grey...with the whips and all.” Counter: No, she doesn’t. Nonetheless, what follows is Lane imagining two parents—“Mommy” and “Daddy,” to him—almost unbearably aroused at the site of Mrs. Incredible. “As for how Daddy will react later on, during the scene in which Helen and the husky-voiced Evelyn unwind and simply talk, woman to woman, I hate to think,” Lane writes, “but watch out for flying popcorn.”

Well! Despite the fact that reading these words makes me feel like I need to take several showers, what cheers me about this data point on the “horny moments of 2018” graph is that Lane’s unrepentant horniness had to make it past multiple editors, fact-checkers, and David Remnick himself before being published in The New Yorker: In 2018, horniness pervaded even the highest reaches of culture. —Marie Solis, staff writer

Gillian Anderson's clothing line

In September, our patron saint Gillian Anderson announced a capsule collection with British label Winser London, accompanied by photos of Anderson that inspired thirst tweets galore! Which, in my professional opinion, is obvious why. We stan!!

Noah Centineo as Peter Kavinsky in To All the Boys I've Loved Before

This year ushered in a renaissance of romantic comedy, with Netflix originals and blockbusters alike reinvigorating the seemingly tapped-out genre. Chief among these new rom com obsessions is To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a Netflix movie starring Lana Candor and Noah Centineo. Though Lana shined as protagonist Lara Jean, Noah caught the horny attention of...well, everyone.

Noah has an expectedly basic social media presence that exposes the flimsiness of our targeted affection, but it was our love for the character Peter Kavinsky that ignited our online crush, since his character was delightfully and surprisingly self-aware, generous, and sweet as all hell. It was also our love for love that fueled our relentless swooning, plus, the movie dropped in August—peak horny season!—

Sara David, culture editor

Lesbian sexual tension on Killing Eve

Typically, British television is definitively where I don’t go for horny content, but Killing Eve is the exception to the rule. The BBC show, which debuted this spring, features our lord and savior Sandra Oh as a relatably bumbling and neurotic British Intelligence agent name Eve Polastri who is trying to track down a serial killer named Villanelle. Perpetually exasperated in a long trench coat with dark, unruly hair framing her constantly on-to-something eyebrows, Eve gives us sexy, overly-invested-detective daddi vibes. Villanelle, meanwhile, is a murderous, sociopathic version of a manic pixie dream girl with perfect doll-like features and the icy stare of a pro domme.

The horniness comes in when the women develop a mutual obsession with each other that’s very obviously erotic and gay. (Meanwhile, Eve’s husband starts whining about Eve’s utter lack of interest in him.) Villanelle sends Eve luxury clothing wrapped in ribbons, and, of course, Eve wears them instead of saving the evidence. Then Villanelle breaks into Eve’s home and coerces her—with a knife—into sitting down for dinner together. (Romantic.) Finally, after a season of escalating sexual tension, Eve confesses to Villanelle: “I think about you all the time. I think about what you’re wearing, what you’re doing, and who you’re doing it with… I think about your eyes and your mouth, what you feel when you kill someone.” Basically, Killing Eve pretends to be a TV show about government agents, but is actually a drawn out, queer, BDSM-laced flirtation that encapsulates the horniest aspects of perverse infatuation. — Sarah Luby Burke, editor

Janelle Monáe’s bisexually lit “Make Me Feel” video

In early 2018, Janelle Monáe blessed us with the bisexual anthem (and video) we so desperately needed. The song, which oozes with the influence of her mentor, the late Prince, kicks off with a breathy moan—and that's just the beginning. A synthy, bouncy beat guides us through the tunnels of a cavernous queer bar, where in each room our Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole encounters hotties of all stripes, including none other than one of the main objects of everyone's 2018 bi fantasies, Tessa Thompson.

Cue the dance breaks, with Janelle strumming a guitar backed by a parade of bikini-clad dancers and grinding in a sandwich between Thompson and some Kid Cudi lookalike in a leather jacket, all awash in the sexy glory of bisexual lighting. It's enough to make me sweat at my desk just thinking about it. Fuck me, this video is still so hot. —Angie Jaime, senior social editor

Paparazzi photos of Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson

pete davidson ariana grande
Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage.

Ariana Grande's brief fireball of a relationship with Pete Davidson created one of the best paparazzi photo series of celebrity couple ever produced: There was something really hot about Davidson holding Grande's hand, towering over her in neon sweatpants with his mouth agape, his massive tongue lolling for the cameras. The ultimate image features Grande in her signature high, long sleek ponytail and an enormous hoodie, sucking on a lollipop and looking up innocently at Davidson, a hood and baseball cap covering his eyes. Davidson is lumbering in that “boyfriend” sort of way, striding forward with Grande's hand laced gently into his. She is literally licking the big red candy ball, while Davidson' has a lollipop shoved in the side of his mouth, its bulging shape pushing out against his cheek. It is a perfectly composed photograph, and incredibly hot—Grande seems to just be looking up in innocent anticipation while Davidson gets the job done. —Diana Tourjée, staff writer

Winston Duke as M’Baku in Black Panther

winston duke
Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic.

One of the biggest Black pop culture moments of 2018—if not the decade—was the premiere of Marvel's Black Panther. The highly anticipated film directed by Ryan Coogler boasted a smorgasbord of Black talent that included Chadwick Boseman, Angela Bassett, Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, and Michael B. Jordan—in addition to Hannah Bleacher and Ruth Carter who worked behind the scenes. But an unexpected breakout star of the film was Winston Duke who played the charming M'Baku, the sexy vegetarian leader of the mountainous Jabari Tribe. The 6'5" Tobagan actor owned his role as an opponent to T'Challa, but he also oozed sex appeal. Maybe it was his fur-trimmed leather suit or his bulging deltoids or his dangerously sexy smirks or his perfectly groomed beard... sorry, lost focus—M'Baku grabbed and held onto our attention. Without a doubt, Duke's character had people walking out of theaters fantasizing about climbing his mountains for months after. —Danielle Kwateng-Clark, senior editor

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The Hot Duck

the mandarin duck in central park
Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images.

I’m in love with an animal that lives in a public park. This year, a Mandarin duck, or “hot duck,” made its social debut in New York City early in October. The little technicolor bird is impossible not to be horny for—it’s so beautiful, in all its plumage’s painterly blues and yellows and pinks and greens, and so enigmatic. How did such a gorgeous representative of an avian species native to East Asia end up living in the grimy, wonderful jewel of New York that is Central Park? Part of the duck’s allure is in that utter mystery, without which—although the duck is a dime—I don’t know if I’d have it up for the duck as turgidly as I do. In such a terrible year, it was rad to be horny for this duck and be reminded that miraculous things, like a swimming paintbox appearing in the middle of a city and transfixing its people so casually and massively, can, I guess, still happen? In any event, the duck can get it (“it” being my renewed sense of possibility, and also this body). —Amy Rose Spiegel, senior editor