Why Is Jennifer Aniston Doing This To Me? (And Some Must-Watch Recommendations)

Deborah Sloan
6 min readOct 27, 2023


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On the same day my husband surprised me with a gift, he also mentioned that we had to deal with a backlog of television. Life had been getting in the way. Keeping abreast of the latest ‘must-watch’ was another full-time job. We’d finished all six parts of The Woman in the Wall. It was described as a gothic horror, a psychological thriller and a detective drama and I’d raved about it because it was impossible to genre-pin it. You either got it or you didn’t. The people that gave up on it were probably not my people. It was funny and terrifying, and sort of away-with-the-fairies yet based on real-life events. There was a beautiful actress in it who looked a bit rough but then her baby had been sold via a Magdalene laundry, and she had some type of sleep disorder so she had to slap herself to stay awake and she may or may not have killed a nun. It was a bit Flann O’Brien. The actress had also executive-produced it and I thought she was outstanding, and I remembered Anne Enright¹ talking about gender and the canon² in Ireland and saying, “Ireland is so busy being Irish and being pleased with itself for being lovely and lyrical and above all things Irish that no one paused to look at the astonishing gender imbalance and the huge amount of unconscious bias in the literary scene”. And that had nothing to do with The Woman in the Wall, because it was written by a man, but it was important to note that there were a lot of things going on in Ireland which made life very difficult for women.

We’d also ticked off two episodes of Boiling Point, but I’d suggested a break from it because everyone in it had problems, and it wasn’t long until the clocks went back, and I didn’t need any more despair. “I don’t have SAD,” I said to my husband. “Yes, you do,” he said as he handed me my gift of a Lumie Vitamin L³. It was best to tackle the winter blues and seasonal affective disorder as soon as possible. I should look for early signs and start using my light therapy if I felt lethargic, anxious, or irritable. I reckoned there wasn’t enough sun in restaurant kitchens and maybe that was why they were all so miserable and I’d been mesmerised by the actress⁴ who executive-produced Boiling Point and is married to Stephen Graham, and the scene she did in Episode 2 outside a toilet, because he is the one who usually gets all the credit, and she deserved to put one of those BAFTA masks on their mantlepiece soon.

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I was concerned about the ever-increasing pile of programmes we had started and never finished. I’d given up on Beef because the woman in that was completely neurotic and Yellowjackets because the women in it were cannibals and it had spawned magazine articles about the feminine urge to eat your friends which I didn’t think was particularly true. We weren’t sure where we were with Only Murders in the Building. It was all quite silly, and every episode was the same and I usually watched it whilst reading a book just to see Selena Gomez’s coats although I thought she was excellent, the way she managed those two old blokes whilst acting and executive-producing at the same time. Then we discovered we were 17 minutes into Episode 8 but couldn’t remember any of it. The Marvellous Mrs Maisel was still my favourite thing to watch, but I had to watch it by myself because my husband wasn’t that interested in a 1950s housewife who tries to make it as a stand-up comedian. I’d enjoyed Season 5 Episode 2 ‘It’s a Man, Man, Man, Man World’ when Midge starts a new job as a comedy writer, but the middle-aged men won’t use any of her jokes even though theirs are rubbish and hers are funny because well, she’s a woman. But then there was a flash-forward to the 1980s, and we discover that she has made it and owns a helicopter so a man somewhere must eventually have used one of her jokes.

“What about The Morning Show?” said my husband. I reckoned it had gone a bit lame - all those flashbacks to 2020, Juliana Margulies’ eyebrows stealing the show, that stupid trip into space, the Elon Musk who was played by Jon Hamm who would only ever be Don Draper. I was half-watching, slightly bored by the Hyperion-UBA deal when approximately 44 minutes into Episode 6, I had to quickly cover my eyes and peer through my fingers. “Why is Jennifer Aniston doing this to me?” I said. “Completely unnecessary,” said my husband who had lowered his iPad. I can’t really talk about it so here’s a link⁵ to what she was up to. You can go there in your own time. I don’t suggest re-enacting it. It was the morning after that got me. No one and I mean no one wakes up like that. “Can we watch it again?” I said to my husband the next evening, “just for research purposes”. It was even worse second time round. I decided she had an amazing spray tan and exquisite limbs, but it really wasn’t fair to have to endure that much bodily perfection in October. I was irritable now.

“Why is Jennifer making me cross?” I said to my husband. “Because you’re allowing her to,” he said. But it wasn’t about inadequacy or envy, it was disappointment. I didn’t know who she had done that scene for.

Then I listened to the historian, Mary Beard on a podcast[6] talking about the awful public things that had happened to her, like being called a tedious old hag and the reviewer, A.A. Gill saying she was “too ugly for telly”. “What I stand for,” she said, “is that you can be a woman and it can be what you say and what you write that matters, not what you look like”. She wanted women to be judged on their brain power not their looks. “Ageism really is the last gender frontier,” she said. “Old ladies could be on telly, and we could actually listen to them for what they have to say”. She talked about hearing 90-year-old Dame Stephanie Shirley on the radio. It was impossible to age her by her voice. She was articulate and interesting and worth the airtime. “Isn’t she clever?” Mary said to her husband. “What would we have said if we’d seen her?” she wondered. “How does the bodily image go with the intellectual image and how can we change that?” she said.

When she’d responded to Gill in a newspaper column, Mary had forced herself to look at the comments. The majority were supportive, from women just like her in their mid-fifties. “When he was being horrible to me,” she said, “he was also being horrible to them”. “What did Gill think a 55-year-old woman looked like?” she asked. “Well, she looked like me and she looked like them”. And then I thought of 54-year-old Jennifer Aniston and the choices she had made as executive producer to do with bodily image and how she’d made it all about looks and it should have been about brain power and how she doesn’t look like any of us.

“Women are very happy to admire men, but men find it very difficult to admire women in return,” said Anne Enright. She could have meant anywhere or everywhere, or she could have meant in the canon, in the literary scene. It didn’t matter. It was probably true. And I thought that ageism isn’t the last gender frontier, it’s intellectual disrespect. When we speak and write and act and executive-produce, wouldn’t it be great if men would say “Isn’t she clever?”, “Isn’t she clever?”, “Isn’t she clever?”, “Isn’t she clever?”. I think we’d be happy with that.

You can find all my writing and monthly newsletter at https://deborahsloan.substack.com/. It’s nice because I will pop directly into your inbox if you subscribe there.

[1] Anne Enright on Desert Island Discs (external link).

[2] What is the canon? (external link).

[3] Vitamin L (I’m not on commission) (external link).

[4] Hannah Walters (external link).

[5] Open with caution (external link).

[6] Mary Beard on Bookshelfie podcast (external link).



Deborah Sloan

I am no publishing here but am now on Substack at https://deborahsloan.substack.com. I write about leaving things in midlife.