Ever since Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston split up and Brad and Angelina Jolie got together, people — at least the type to care about this sort of thing — have fallen into one of two camps: Team Jen or Team Brangelina. The teams were fiercely loyal, and fuck the other team. It seemed the only way the score would ever be settled would be if Brad and Angelina broke up (Team Jen for the win), or if they died holding hands in a hospital bed (Team Brange).
When news broke on Tuesday that Angelina had filed for divorce, a roar reverberated through the Cosmopolitan.com office among the ranks of Team Jen. I heard gasps, then cheers, from co-workers who had been wanting vengeance for Jen since 2005. What a sweet, sweet moment of victory. America’s golden girl gets cheated on by her golden boy husband, and over a decade later, he’s thrown to the kerb by the other woman. Ain’t karma a bitch.
I suppose now is a good time to confess that I’ve loved Brad and Angelina since they got together. They were attractive and they had good chemistry and they seemed to genuinely enjoy each other. They made a beautiful family.
But I’ve also always been a fan of Jennifer Aniston. She seems fun to be around. I liked her and Brad as a couple — their California stoner vibes made their unimaginable stardom a little more approachable. I was sad when Brad and Jen broke up, and I’m sad now that Brad and Angie seem to be over.
The thing that’s always been wrong about picking sides in this love triangle is that the side you pick has little to do with the actual parties involved. You didn’t state your allegiance to Jen because she’d been betrayed — you saw in her a projection of your own insecurities (will you one day be cheated on?) or your beliefs about monogamy and infidelity, or any number of other things, like your having once dated a guy who was also missing a sensitivity chip. Take me: I wanted Brad and Angie’s relationship to last because their relationship reflects the way I’ve been trained to think about love — that when you find it, you can’t resist it; that it should be passionate and sexy and uninhibited — and seeing them gaze into each other’s eyes made me believe.
Jen, Brad, and Angie may have been complicit in keeping their love triangle alive, playing the media and the public to some degree. Jen spent years giving Brad Pitt sound bites, even if just to say she was over him, while Brangie played the role of mature adults who were too busy raising their children to respond. But who knows if they were really being that calculating? None of us knows anything about the private lives of these celebrities.
Whatever the circumstances that brought the end of the Jolie-Pitts’ marriage, what I know for sure is that this is not cause for delight. This moment is not justice for women who’ve been betrayed by infidelity. It’s not justice for Jennifer Aniston. How could it be? Jen has moved on and then some. She has remarried and had a long, fruitful career in Hollywood, and frankly, she didn’t ask to be part of this particular narrative, the one where Angelina and Brad are getting divorced and somehow she’s the mascot dancing on the sidelines.
Those Rachel Green memes are funny but they miss the point that these are real people. This is a break-up of a relationship that lasted for more than 11 years. It will impact not just Brad and Angie but their six children. And it certainly won’t impact you. But if you feel like it does, take a minute to think about why that is. A little self-reflection never hurt anyone, after all — especially if you do it while staring at old photos of Brangelina. What happened, you guys?
This article was originally published on Cosmopolitan.com.