For years, Jennifer Aniston shot it down in each interview.
Sure, she understood that plenty of her celeb pals used Instagram to connect with their fans and promote their upcoming projects. But, frankly, she's Jennifer Aniston. And if she opens a movie or makes a return to the small screen (see: Apple TV+ series The Morning Show), people are going to watch.
As for the rest of it, well, it felt like a bit much, the actress admitting in October's InStyle that she worried about how social media played with people's sense of self-worth: "It's 'like me, don't like me, did I get liked?' There's all this comparing and despairing."
So we'll refrain from commenting on just how well-liked her October Instagram debut was and simply say, as far as first posts go, it was pretty much perfect. Really, a simple selfie would have likely garnered plenty of buzz and excitement, but Aniston (having spent a few weeks doing her research) went for it, giving fans a glimpse of a recent get together she'd had with her old Friends costars Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer.
Because, guys, she misses it too. Nostalgia for the venerable NBC hit is alive and well judging by the number of people eager to turn Aniston's foray onto the platform into a show-related pun. Cox, welcomed her friend to "the social media world" using her infamous line from the pilot. ("It sucks. You're going to love it.") Jennifer Garner enacted an entire scene using a LEGO anniversary set. Aniston pal Derek Blasberg dubbed the moment, "just kick-you-in-the-crotch, spit-on-your-neck fantastic." And pretty much everyone else reached for some variation on The One Where Jen Joined Instagram.
There's a reason the comedy still resonates with fans, who are able to stream it on the daily using Netflix and, starting next year, HBO Max. Save for a few cringe-y lines (and the utter absence of a Friend of color) the show holds up 25 years after it debuted. Plus, it's really freaking funny.
"It's a comfort-food show," co-creator Marta Kauffman told Rolling Stone in March. "These are trying times, and certain people want the comfort food rather than the difficult, mean-spirited kind of show. It's warm, it's cozy, [the characters] love each other. What's not to love about that?"
For, Aniston, it reminds her of one of the most enjoyable times of her career when she went to work every day with her best friends and cracked jokes for a living. ("I got in at 10 and was out by 5," she told InStyle.) It's sort of how regular people look back on college.
"In a way, being on that show was the ultimate trust exercise," she told the mag. "There was comfort in numbers there, so we all held each other up. I miss a lot about that time. Having a job that was absolute, pure joy. I miss getting to be with people I love massively and respect beyond words. So, yes, these days I'm super nostalgic."
So credit Aniston being in her feelings for the recent movement being made toward some sort of reunion. Three weeks after she first teased on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in October, "Listen, we would love for there to be something, but we don't know what that something is," plans are getting just a touch firmer with reports that an unscripted special featuring the whole cast, plus creators Kauffman and David Krane is in the works.
Though The Hollywood Reporter cautions a deal is far from being signed, with many schedules and personalties involved, it could make its way to their new home on HBO Max.
And if it does, well, perhaps Aniston was the impetus. "I made noises," she told Stephen Colbert a few days after her chat with DeGeneres. "Something is happening," she continued, refusing to elaborate further. "But we don't know what that something is."
Of course, the sextet could just get together for dinners at their various mansions, scattered across the L.A. area, which they do according to Aniston's opening Instagram salvo. Just not as often as any of them would like.
While the women get together on the regular, and trade jokes on an ongoing group text that we'd die to get a peek at, it's proven tough to get the male half of the group involved. "There's six friends, and I have been trying to put together a cast dinner for ten years," Cox admitted to David Letterman in 2014 when asked about a potential movie reunion. "It doesn't happen. I mean, I can get the girls to come, maybe Matthew Perry. Matt LeBlanc cancelled last time, Schwimmer lives [in New York City,] so it's just not going to happen."
In other words, it could be another decade-and-a-half until Aniston can get more prime Insta content. Though, since they broke the ice with that first meet-up, they all seem to be, well, there for each other more often. Cox and Kudrow teamed up to present Aniston an honor at the 2019 SAG-AFTRA Foundation's Patron of the Artists Awards and Monica and Chandler (I mean, Cox and Perry) had lunch together just the other week. "I KNOW!! Could I BE any happier?" she wrote on Instagram.
So perhaps that's why they keep dangling the dream that just maybe they'll all return to network TV. And not just as a group of castmates turned IRL friends, but as the lovable, giant New York City apartment-dwelling family we all remember from our youths. It's the only way to guarantee they'll all be in the same room.
Apparently it was a topic of conversation at their early October gathering. "We all happened to have a window of time so we all got together," Aniston revealed during an interview on The Howard Stern Show. "We laughed so hard." And amongst the telling of inside jokes and catching up on each other's lives, they reminisced a bit about the way things were: "We all miss it every day."
So it's not as if they all haven't tried to work out a way to get the gang back together on camera. During a 2014 AMA session, Kudrow told fans, getting "to spend that much time with those people again would be heaven!" And Aniston offered up her services in coming up with a new angle. "Courteney and Lisa and I talk about it. I fantasize about it," she has told InStyle. "It really was the greatest job I ever had. I don't know what it would look like today, but you never know. So many shows are being successfully rebooted."
Should the guys prove to be a stumbling block, she had a suggestion: "We just give it some time and then Lisa, Courteney, and I could reboot The Golden Girls and spend our last years together on wicker furniture."
Because the women have remained nearly as close as the days when they would spend their lunch breaks chatting over the Cobb salad remix they dubbed the "Jennifer salad". Having hit it off straightaway when filming began in the late nineties, a source told E! News, "They grew up together and went through this formidable life experience that was Friends." So much like you might meet up with coworkers from your first job, they make it a point to get happy hours on their calendar. "Geographically its not hard to be at Courteney's Sunday dinners or at a pool party at Jen's house," notes the source. "They all feel incredibly close and always will be."
It's just that no one is sure if that bond will translate back to the small screen. When you create lightening in a bottle, trying to get it to strike twice is incredibly perilous. As Aniston reasoned to Howard Stern, there's potential for more risk than reward: "If there's a reboot of the show, it won't be as good as what it was so why do it? It would ruin it."
Kaufman agrees, telling Rolling Stone that's her chief reason for not even sketching out what a new episode could look like. "One, the show is about a time in your life when your friends are your family. It's not that time anymore. All we'd be doing is putting those six actors back together, but the heart of the show would be gone," she explained. "Two, I don't know what good it does us. The show is doing just fine, people love it. [A reunion] could only disappoint. 'The One Where Everyone's Disappointed.'"
Besides, Joey lives in L.A. now and Chandler and Monica moved to Westchester, which might as well be across the country.
"That was a story about these group of people that are friends in their 30s who are finding themselves. I don't know if there's a way to redo it," Cox told People last year. "I just don't see it happening. Even though I would do anything to be in a room with all of those people acting and having a great time. But I don't see it happening."
And while pragmatically Aniston knows that her friend is right, she's not willing to let the dream fully die. Perhaps this upcoming televised reunion could be the springboard for something more? "The girls would do it, and the boys would do it, I'm sure," she declared to Ellen DeGeneres this past June. "Listen, anything can happen."
I mean, look who just joined Instagram.
(This story was originally published on October 18, 2019 at 3 a.m. PT.)