On Wednesday, Aniston made an appearance on "Good Morning America" to promote her role as a stripper (pretending to be a soccer mom) in the new film “We’re The Millers” and addressed the hype surrounding her personal life (read: marriage and babies), insisting she tries to “tune that noise out.” And when asked which question bugs her the most, she answered, “Somehow, trying to relay questions about the movie — if I was to have a child, how many kids do I want and then, do I want a boy or a girl?”
The fascination with the 44-year-old's uterus is tied to a particular storyline that's been recounted over and over in the media: It's the one where Pitt abandoned his marriage because he wanted children and Aniston didn’t (a claim she disputed in Vanity Fair shortly after her divorce).
Of course, Aniston and Pitt divorced eight years ago, in 2005. For context, back then "Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica" was a hit show on MTV, Bush was in office, and the Foo Fighters topped the radio charts. Since then, Pitt, 49 and Jolie, 38, have remained in a solid relationship and are raising six children together, while Aniston has had a string of high-profile relationships with John Mayer, Vince Vaughn, and model Paul Sculfor. Oh, and she's engaged to actor Justin Theroux, and has been in a relationship with him for a couple of years now.
Yet, the Brangelina love triangle lives on, as it has for almost a decade, gripping audiences (and keeping the tabloids in business) with its ever-evolving plotlines. "Jen wants Brad Pitt back!," "Angelina and Brad Fight Over Jen!," and "Baby bump wars—the race to give birth!" And when stories aren’t completely fabricated, they’re misconstrued. Recently, Aniston made an innocuous comment to Glamour magazine that she wishes she had gone to therapy in her 30s. The statement gave birth to explosive headlines stating that she had “dissed Brad Pitt” by implying she had a bad marriage.
What’s with the fascination? Why can't we report on one party without looping in the other two? When Renee Zellweger drops a dress size, we don’t claim she’s flaunting her “revenge body” for ex-husband Kenny Chesney. When Drew Barrymore gave birth to daughter Olive in 2012, no one cared how ex-husband Tom Green felt about it. And other than that iconic photo of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake wearing matching denim-sandwiches, and that song “Cry Me a River,” does anyone even remember that those two even dated?
Part of the obsession with the Aniston-Pitt-Jolie triangle could be thanks to the classic blonde vs. brunette war. It’s a classic trope — be it Chrissy Snow and Janet Wood on "Three’s Company," Kelly vs. Brenda on "Beverly Hills, 90210" or Carrie vs. Natasha on "Sex and the City," a good story needs an archetype for good and evil. Aniston is known for her one-dimensional, likable roles and squeaky-clean lifestyle (save for a smoking habit). Meanwhile, Jolie stars in action flicks, flies planes, rocks tattoos and used to wear a vial of blood around her neck.
The fixation may also be personal. Pitt and Jolie violated the basic terms of love, a topic the public takes very seriously (witness our obsession with "The Bachelor" franchise). People may follow their story because they’re subconsciously waiting for the other shoe to drop — and for Jolie (and Pitt) to suffer the consequences of adultery, no matter how long ago it was and how long they've since lasted. The couple’s happiness may not sit well with those left with a nagging, unresolved feeling that life and love can be cruel.
And finally, we could chalk it up to classic Mommy Wars. We live in a world where the birth rate is lower than ever, yet childless and unmarried women are made to feel guilty for setting their own biological clocks (or simply not paying attention to them at all) and deemed “selfish” if they decide to forgo having children. While Aniston has stated that she actually would like to have children, she’s not currently a mother and is seen by many as having failed at marriage and parenthood. Jolie on the other hand, is not only a mom to six kids, she's the founder of several children’s foundations, an advocates for children in the third world, and even serves as a U.N. special envoy for refugees.
So when Aniston finally does marry her current beau (and maybe even starts a family with him), will the world finally stop linking her to her ex-husband and the woman he left her for nearly a decade ago?