Book Chapter

From the woman who 'had it all' to the tragic, ageing spinster: The Shifting Star Persona of Jennifer Aniston



Berridge S (2016) From the woman who 'had it all' to the tragic, ageing spinster: The Shifting Star Persona of Jennifer Aniston. In: Jermyn D & Holmes S (eds.) Women, Celebrity and Cultures of Ageing: Freeze Frame. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 112-126.

First paragraph: In a montage episode of Friends (NBC, 1994–2004), ‘The One Where They All Turn 30’ (7.14), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) sits down to a birthday breakfast with her friends and 24-year-old boyfriend, surrounded by colourful balloons. Dressed in a plain white T-shirt and pyjama bottoms, with shoulder-length bobbed hair and wearing a child’s birthday crown, her youthful girlishness is highlighted. Yet, while the episode underlines Rachel’s youth, it simultaneously suggests that she is at an inappropriate life stage in relation to her age. Rachel’s narrative in the episode revolves around her anxieties about getting older without having achieved any of her self-imposed life goals – goals that include meeting a man, getting married and having children. Reinforcing the idea of Rachel as in a state of arrested development, she is currently living in Joey (Matt LeBlanc) and Chandler’s (Matthew Perry) former apartment, a space that connotes immaturity in the series more widely – connected as it is with bachelor and often childish lifestyles. In keeping with the generic conventions of the sitcom, Rachel’s response to turning 30 is portrayed as a comedic overreaction. Yet, the narrative ultimately culminates with Rachel splitting up with her boyfriend to concentrate instead on her realising her long-term aims. In doing so, the episode clearly articulates some of the central tenets of postfeminist discourses of ageing and ‘time crisis’, which measure success through the attainment of particular life goals such as marriage and motherhood (Negra, 2009).

Publication date31/12/2016
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publisher URL
Place of publicationBasingstoke

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Dr Susan Berridge

Dr Susan Berridge

Senior Lecturer, Communications, Media and Culture