Don’t call it a comeback, because they never left — except, well, they did. This year saw the return of some familiar faces to TV and movie screens, stages, and airwaves, including the likes of John Krasinski (he of The Office and side-eye fame) and Lil Wayne (his long-awaited Tha Carter V finally dropped four years after it was first announced). Kristin Cavallari, who rose to fame back in the heyday of teen reality series (before the Kardashians were a thing) landed her own eponymous reality show, and Amanda Bynes, who took a swerve far off the radar after publicly lusting after Drake, posed on the cover of Paper magazine like it ain’t no thang.
To say that these stars are being given a second chance isn’t quite accurate. The rate at which Hollywood’s biggest names can cycle in and out of the headlines is whiplash-inducing, to say the least. It’s less “second chance” than it is “space to reinvent.” Take Nicki Minaj or Eminem, for instance, both of whom released new albums in 2018, to much acclaim. They haven’t necessarily been out of the spotlight, but their look and sound this past year has been decidedly louder, bolder, and a little bit more mature (though, to be fair, both have had their fair share of headline-making feuds, so we don’t mean grown-up and boring just yet). Or Sandra Oh and Lady Gaga, both of whom have shape-shifted out of the roles that have made them famous to newer, more nuanced versions of themselves.