On Tuesday morning, a celebrity news source whose reputation I can in no way vouch for reported a bit of information that is nonetheless too tantalizing not to repeat: Former Friends castmates Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer are, per an unnamed source, an item. As in, they’re together. As in, Ross and Rachel from Friends are (maybe) a couple in real life.
This news would, if true, be of world historical import. Ross and Rachel—the biggest will-they-or-won’t-they couple on one of the biggest television shows of all time—are now perhaps each other’s lobsters after all, as a zillion tweets have already declared. Anonymous online gossip queen Deux Moi is the first but surely not the last to say it’s fake, but I can’t help it, I want it to be real.
The report comes courtesy of a website called Closer, which bills itself as “one of the U.K.’s leading lifestyle sites.” When it comes to landing celebrity scoops, Closer (not to be confused with the stateside women’s magazine of the same name) is no TMZ, to be sure. But for what it’s worth, it’s not a bathroom stall, either: The site is owned by Bauer Media Group, an international publishing conglomerate that, until fairly recently, also owned U.S. gossip magazines like InTouch and Life & Style Weekly. (They were sold to American Media Inc. in 2018.)
Can you trust Closer, and more specifically, an anonymous source Closer is quoting? I have no idea. But for those of us who want to believe, I think it’s worth indulging the strongest arguments that, in my opinion, support the plausibility of this coupling.
First point: the Friends reunion. The Closer story says it was the special, which was shot in April and aired on HBO Max in May, that started all this. In this reunion, Aniston and Schwimmer shared the never-before publicly revealed secret that they’d had crushes on each other back in their Friends days, a detail that struck me at the time as at once completely manufactured for TV and completely something I wanted to believe anyway. According to the Closer story, seeing each other to film the special reignited that old flame. Here is a widely circulated photo of them from said special. Ever since, they’ve reportedly been texting. Schwimmer is said to have flown to see Aniston in Los Angeles, and—I think this last detail is a little more dubious if you peruse the cited Instagram posts but whatever—they’ve supposedly been flirting on social media. Oh and, as if that weren’t enough, apparently the rest of the Friends cast knows: The anonymous source told Closer, “Jen had to ask Courteney [Cox] and Lisa [Kudrow] to rein in their excitement after they got carried away and started talking of an engagement!” Ugh, shades of “The One Where Everybody Finds Out.”
Not only does the timeline of the reunion match up, there’s also an armchair-psychology reading to be done. These are two actors who seem invested in preserving their past selves, at least physically (as one recent Elle Australia piece put it, “the Friends cast has been refreshingly open about plastic surgery”). On the reunion special, the deep nostalgia that Schwimmer and Aniston feel for the Friends years, and their own bond back then, was clear. The impulse to settle into a relationship that feels like a time capsule to their early careers is perfectly understandable.
That brings us to another pair of exes: Bennifer. I am not saying that because Bennifer Part II seemed completely improbable and then turned out to be maybe true that this unrelated relationship must be real too. What I’m saying instead is: Look at the positive reception Bennifer’s gotten. The masses love throwback flings and second-chance , later-in-life love stories. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez have been this summer’s biggest source of “gossip oxytocin”: Goodwill toward both stars seems through the roof. Why wouldn’t Aniston and Schwimmer want some of that? Once again: Who knows if it’s a stunt, or if it’s real! But it’s hard to deny that reviving a vintage romance is a pretty great PR move.