Why Did Jennifer Aniston Return to TV for the First Time Since ‘Friends’?

When Jennifer Aniston transitioned from Friends to the movies, fans wondered if we could take her seriously as a film actress. Now that Aniston is transitioning back to TV, fans wonder if we can take her seriously again in such a different role. 

Aniston’s new venture, The Morning Show, is a risk on several fronts. Aniston aims to prove her mettle as one of the producers of a show that proved eerily prescient about the Me Too movement, and she’s doing so for a company that is new to producing the content that will stream on its devices: Apple. 

What made Jennifer Aniston come back to TV? 

Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

By now, it feels like Aniston has nothing to prove. She has been very successful on both the big and the small screens, scoring a hit earlier this year with the Adam Sandler comedy Murder Mystery. Some people in the industry would argue that since Murder Mystery was seen mostly at home on Netflix, she already returned to TV quite successfully. 

However, The Morning Show is a different animal. It’s a drama in which Aniston’s character, a host of a Good Morning America-like show must reckon with controversy after her longtime co-host, played by Steve Carell, is accused of sexual harassment.

The show is nothing if not of the moment, with several long-standing careers tarnished by scandal, including but hardly limited to Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, and Charlie Rose. Aniston has said the show was developed before Me Too gained momentum in late 2017, but the real-life controversies made it take on new life. 

“Acting and at the same time producing was intense for Jen,” a source told People of Aniston. “The role required filming late at night, and then they had meetings during the day. But she missed being part of a show. She is very proud of it.”

It’s a ‘Friends’ reunion of sorts

To wade back into TV, Aniston enlisted the help of another actress at first known for comedy roles who toughened up her image and became a respected producer. And it just so happens this actress was also on Friends: Reese Witherspoon.

Back in the day, Witherspoon played Rachel Green’s bratty sister on the NBC sitcom. This was back when Witherspoon was a known commodity but before she became the A-list actress she’s known as today. Witherspoon is also a producer, having been a guiding force behind the HBO series, Big Little Lies

“She and Reese have the same passion and got along great. Jen enjoys working with women she admires,” the source told People. Per EW, another executive producer of The Morning Show, Michael Ellenberg, brought the project to the actresses, and Aniston told him: “I’m not completely closed down to television because it’s been pretty good.”

Apple breaks into the streaming world

In the past, another company like HBO might have developed The Morning Show, while Apple would have been content for that show to stream on their Macs, iPads and iPhones. Now, Apple itself is producing the show, which will debut on its new streaming service Apple TV + Nov. 1. 

People are used to Apple products being very expensive, so when it was announced that Apple TV would only cost $5 a month, the price point surprised many people. That price may be because they don’t have a deep bench of content to draw from like Netflix and Disney+ do, but that was part of the appeal for Aniston and Witherspoon. 

“When we found out that we were among one of the first shows to be bought by Apple, Reese and I both had this pinch-me moment,” Aniston told InStyle. “The first women to help launch a network as actors and producers, having a beautiful piece of that pie that we really earned and deserved. We had a big toast to that.”