The public has been fantasizing about Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt since the '90s, both separately and together. Separately, it was the handsome Missouri boy who looked like a god and the girl-next-door Californian who was both beautiful and funny. Together, they were the power couple of Hollywood. They were the pinnacle of the young, cool, California way of life. They were tan, blonde, and rich. They were living out America's fantasy.
The two married in 2000 and then subsequently split in 2005 only for Pitt to couple up Angelina Jolie a few months later, leaving the public shook. The Prom King and Queen were done — but the fantasy was not. Instead, the public started fantasizing about Aniston striking revenge on Pitt for leaving her, and then daydreaming about the "secret" correspondence happening behind Jolie's back. This went on for years, until the fantasy fizzled out when Aniston found her new prince charming, marrying Justin Theroux in 2015.
Then in 2016, things changed again and the fantasy came back to life — but with a twist. Pitt and Jolie had a nasty, widely-publicized split while Aniston herself fought off divorce rumors. This was Aniston's big revenge, the one she had — as the fantasy goes — been waiting for. Different versions of a smug Aniston were plastered on tabloid magazines (because of course she would be cackling over the heartbreak of her ex, right? This is all part of the plan — they're forever intertwined), contrasting with the sullen images of a heartbroken Pitt. But still, the fantasy of the once Mr. and Mrs. Jennifer Aniston-Pitt persisted. Now, less than two years later, Aniston is also, albeit much less dramatically, splitting from her spouse (but still her "best friend"). And the golden vision of Brad and Jen is back, and stronger than ever.
In their joint statement announcing the split, Aniston and Theroux try to tackle the enduring fantasy head-on by lovingly calling out the "gossip industry" before they start to "speculate and invent" on their own. Aniston has been at the butt of so many rumors, exaggerations, and totally invasive paparazzi photos, that she preemptively knows how to handle a big celebrity announcement. "Don't fantasize about my personal life" is what she really wants to stay, but instead she churns out a statement with a subtle "fuck you"' aimed at sites who run headlines like this. And despite Aniston taking control of the narrative with an official statement as ironclad as her rumored prenup, the public still can't resist pointing out that for the first time since their intense split, Pitt and Aniston are both single at the same time. It does not matter how or why or when or where Aniston became single – she's single, and the people know what they want. Once America's Sweethearts, always America's Sweethearts.
So, why are people so obsessed with a couple that has been broken up for over a decade? Celebrity couples break up all the time — what makes Pitt and Aniston such fodder for these fantasies? The most obvious answer is simple — because these fantasies actually play out all the time. Hollywood is basically known for them. The idea of two celebrities getting together, breaking up, and then reuniting later on in life has happened time and time again. There's Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth; there's no one type of celebrity couple that hasn't tried their shot at a fairytale reunion. But none of these rekindlings would hold a candle to Pitt and Aniston getting back together. Their breakup was one of the most covered spectacles of recent tabloid history. People made shirts.
These celebrities play out fantasies on screen everyday, and that line gets blurred with each and every grand gesture in every rom-com or epic love story. Pitt saved Troy — can he save Aniston next, too? (Even though the rhetoric around her split from Theroux has placed Aniston far from being the victim — an idea she has been trying to distance herself from for years now, telling The Hollywood Reporter in 2015: "If the world only could just stop with the stupid, soap-opera bullshit. There's no story. I mean, at this point it's starting to become — please, give more credit to these human beings.") One person's fantasy is another's worst soap-opera nightmare. And while this wet dream of a Pitt-Aniston reunion continues to permeate the Internet with wishful headlines and dead-end analyses into a defunct relationship, it's clear to a few people (as well to a source to literal PEOPLE) that Pitt and Aniston will not rekindle any kind of romance. The fact that the both of them are single is not fate, or the stars aligning. They're not Romeo and Juliet or Tristan and Isolde or Noah and Allie. They're not your fantasy — they're exes.
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