Yesterday, August 5, 2015, was the happiest day in the history of all media.
Jennifer Aniston—the world’s foremost sad single lady, the spinster of the ages, the loneliest Eeyore to have ever weathered life’s storm clouds—married actor Justin Theroux. The offices of Us Weekly, OK!, People, and Star are in a tizzy, frantically debating the best way to style their cover headlines: “FINALLY!”
Because hallelujah, praise Jesus, oh happy day! A very wealthy, very successful, very talented woman has finally satisfied our sole expectation of her personal fulfillment: She is once again legally bound to a man.
No entertainment narrative has been as long or as insufferable (or as crude or as sexist or as retrograde or as problematic or as despicable) as the one we have inflicted on Jennifer Aniston in the years since her divorce from Brad Pitt. And damn it to hell, that was 10 years ago.
As is seared into the memories of anyone who has ever been in physical approximation to a grocery store cashier line, Aniston and Pitt divorced in 2005, Pitt swiftly coupled with Angelina Jolie and began parenting the world’s children, and Aniston was left, if the tabloids were to be believed, weeping over a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and painstakingly cutting Pitt’s face out of all her vacation photos for the better part of the decade.
Her film career? Who cares! What the world wanted to know—needed to know—was whether she was wise to be dating notorious playboy John Mayer. He’d never commit! Or would Vince Vaughn be The One? And worse, what about when she wasn’t dating anyone? Could she possibly live with herself? Was Jen OK?
Even after she met and became engaged to Theroux in 2012, 18 months after they began dating, the narrative didn’t end. In fact, it became even more sordid and deranged. Were they rushing into things? Has Aniston’s desperation—which we made up and then thrust on her—made her act too soon?
Then there were the real lunatic plots: How did her engagement ring compare to Angelina Jolie’s? Will Aniston and Pitt race to the altar? Was her engagement just to get back at Pitt?
As years passed between Theroux’s proposal and their nuptials, the media began to worry! Was everything OK with Jen? Did she have cold feet? Did he have cold feet? Is she going to be left alone again? WILL JENNIFER ANISTON NEVER BE REMARRIED AND THEREFORE NEVER HAVE A HAPPY DAY AGAIN IN HER SAD LIFETIME?
For fun/to weep at society, we did a simple Google image search: “Jennifer Aniston Tabloid Covers.” Holy hell, everyone. The world is the worst. Here’s just a sampling:
Obsessed With Angie!
Jen: Pregnant & Alone
Jen Finally Tells Brad: I HATE YOU
‘I Can’t Stop Loving Brad’
Jilted By Her Fiancé
Angie Sabotages Jen’s Wedding
Jen’s Shocking Decision: I Will Never Remarry
How Angelina Tortures Jen
Jen’s Heartbreak: DUMPED
Jen’s Baby Dream SHATTERED
Baby at Last
I’ll Raise This Baby Alone (Ed. Note: There was never a baby.)
To her immense credit—lost in the depiction of this bitter old maid is the fact that she’s always been one of Hollywood’s most personable and self-aware celebrities—Aniston herself weighed in on the insanity of the coverage of her life earlier this year.
“I realize they need to sell magazines, but it’s really getting old,” she told InStyle. “What kills me is when friends send me pictures they've taken at a newsstand. One magazine says, ‘Desperate and alone,’ and the other one says, ‘She’s eloped!’ I mean, at least consult. Don’t make yourself look like an idiot. I’m going to be 50 and they’re still gonna be saying, ‘She’s pregnant!’”
That’s fine, Jen. But did you have to be such a tease? This engagement has been going on forever and Giuliana Rancic can only fret about your personal well-being for so long before collapsing under the weight of the stress. She is a very thin woman!
Over the years Jen would give us useless morsels to nibble on. “We just want to do it when it's perfect, and we're not rushed, and no one is rushing from a job or rushing to a job,” she told the Associated Press in 2013, adding: “And, you know, we already feel married.” Yeah—but you weren’t! And we deserve your wedding, dammit!
And then there was that sound bite to the ladies of The Talk later that summer. “Eventually we’re going to get married when we find the time.” Jen, this is literally the only thing we have cared about in your life for 10 full years, I think you can find the time!
This is all in jest, of course, because this entire narrative has been a decade-long royal circus, with all of us who have bought into it its clowns and jesters.
Thankfully her phenomenal performance last year in Cake, which nearly earned her an Oscar nomination, distracted the storyline for a while. But let’s use this merry occasion to once more, and hopefully for the last time, put on blast the extremely crass and misogynistic way we have invested in this poor woman’s personal life.
We’ve done it to many women—Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon, Britney Spears—and we’re doing it now to Jennifer Garner in the wake of her split from Ben Affleck, where we instantaneously portray them as victims in a breakup, for which healing can only come in the form of finding another long-term partner. Preferably before their former spouse does.
But Aniston was the first we did this to. She was Patient Zero and her tale has been the harrowing one. It’s been as ridiculous as Aniston insinuated it’s been in that InStyle interview, and it’s not going to stop now that she’s had her top-secret wedding at her Bel Air mansion with outdoor table settings, a dance floor, a cake topped with puppet versions of the couple, and a pastor who appeared to be holding a Bible. (Thanks for the deets, Us Weekly!)
No, it will not stop because now baby watch will be kicking into high gear. God help us all.