Jennifer Aniston’s New Role Is Nothing Like ‘Friends’ or Anything Else She’s Done

Although Jennifer Aniston has by now more than proved her worth in both comedies and dramas, the default image people have of her besides Rachel in Friends tends to be the rom-com queen. A drama coming to the new Apple TV+ aims to change the conversation around her. 

Titled The Morning Show, the vehicle for Aniston and Reese Witherspoon features what InStyle calls Aniston’s “most complex role to date.” 

Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston | David Livingston/Getty Images

What is ‘The Morning Show’ about?

The drama series aims to tap into the hot button conversations about women’s treatment in the workplace, when the titular news program has to deal with a sexual harassment scandal. Aniston plays Alex Levy, one of the co-hosts of the show who struggles with a male co-host played by Steve Carell. 

Some may think the show was inspired by the Me Too movement that led to many days of reckoning for the once indomitable Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey and others. In fact, The Morning Show was pitched before the headlines multiplied as various powerful figures began falling like dominoes.  

“The show was always about the abuse of power, and women and sexism. We sold it in the summer, and then Harvey [Weinstein] happened in the fall,” Aniston told InStyle. Allegations against TV stalwarts Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose followed soon after, and “Reese and I were like…’The show is writing itself,” Aniston said. 

Witherspoon said to EW,  “I don’t think I’ve seen a time in my life where more people have lost their entire careers over misconduct. People who were seemingly untouchable. We had to start totally over and redevelop the show, but it actually turned out to be so much more potent and topical.”

That’s quite an evolution from the days when Witherspoon played Rachel’s sister spoiled sister Jill on Friends in 2000. 

Aniston has proved her dramatic chops before

While Aniston’s major claim to fame will always be Friends, she has proven her dramatic chops before. One movie that has gotten somewhat lost in the shuffle is the 2002 indie drama The Good Girl, where Aniston played an unhappily married store clerk who strikes up an affair with a much younger man played by Jake Gyllenhaal. 

Even at the time, Roger Ebert wrote, “Jennifer Aniston has at last decisively broken with her Friends image in an independent film of satiric fire and emotional turmoil. It will no longer be possible to consider her in the same way.” 

She also received a Golden Globe nomination for the film 2014 film Cake, about a woman struggling with chronic pain. And even her comic roles were not all rom-com fluff about whether she would sleep with a guy or not. She starred in Office Space, which became a cult hit, thanks partly to Aniston’s character complaining about “flare.”

Aniston has had a banner year

Between The Morning Show, the Netflix hit Murder Mystery with Adam Sandler and the 25th anniversary of Friends, Aniston is having a banner year. She looks back on Friends with great fondness and nostalgia, but also looks forward to broadening her experience, having celebrated her 50th birthday this year. She wants to break down barriers, not only in regard to women’s treatment in the workplace, but with the perception that once an actress hits 50, that’s the beginning of the end of her career. 

“Fifty was the first time I thought, ‘Well, that number,’ ” Aniston said. “I don’t know what it is because I don’t feel any different. Things aren’t shutting down in any way. I feel physically incredible. So it’s weird that it’s all of a sudden getting telegraphed in a way that’s like, ‘You look amazing for your age.’ I think we need to establish some etiquette around that dialogue and verbiage.”

The Morning Show will premiere Nov. 1 on Apple’s new streaming service, which will cost $5 a month.