Meghan & Harry, Brad & Jen: You Guys, 2020 Is Going to Be Just Fine
January: Traditionally, it’s the month of new beginnings, a slower pace and a greater priority on self-care. Instead, it’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, at least in the celebrity sphere. After all, we were barely a week into the new year—heck, a new decade—when the royal rug was pulled out from beneath us with the announcement that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were quitting the royal family, moving to Canada and taking Archie with them.
It’s going to be just fine, I told myself only half-believing.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy for them and think they made the best decision for themselves and their family and their current situation. (Come on, the way they were treated by the tabloids was Diana-esque and out of control.) And I'm fully aware that I’m speaking as if royal relationships are the only thing that matter circa 2020, which isn’t at all true. But as someone who has grown up watching the royals—and penning letters both directly and indirectly via People magazine’s mailbag column to Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Kensington Palace—I was sad. I was also confused about the future (still am!) and whether or not we’ll continue to have the joy that is Harry and Meghan and Archie in our lives. It’s going to be just fine, I repeated aloud.
All that uncertainty and lack of royal closure came to a halt for me via a surprising moment, courtesy of the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which took place this past Sunday in Los Angeles.
What happened? Well, Brad Pitt won a Best Supporting Actor Award for his excellence in Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood. Minutes later, Jennifer Aniston, Pitt’s ex who he left to marry Angelina Jolie, took the stage for a similar and equally well-deserved honor: Best Female Actor for her work in The Morning Show. (Bravo to both!) But that’s when the cameras captured it: a backstage reunion for one of the most famous former Hollywood couples of our generation. One of America's all-time favorite duos shared an embrace—and a look of deep friendship and love.
The internet exploded. And my own level of hope for 2020 quickly rebounded. (Again, I get it. My happiness shouldn't be dictated by celebs. But as someone who has always been an insanely massive Friends fan, how could I not be invested?!)
Following a day spent reeling from Prince Harry’s first speech post-royal break-up (where he acknowledged that he and Meghan truly “had no other option”), I couldn’t get over the unexpected endorphin rush—and subsequent influx of text messages from friends with similar feelings—brought on by a single pic, one filled with possibility, of Brad and Jen. It’s going to be just fine.
So why do I care and why should you care? With so much craziness in the world today (I can't even keep track of all the breaking news stories!) and so much to worry about (don’t even get me started on climate change), famous faces give us the chance to emotionally invest in some stability, in a happy ending. Life is pretty damn unpredictable which is why we look to celebrities to live out our fantasy lives, as close to perfection as can be achieved. We look to them for that ever-elusive happily ever after.
Such is the case with Harry and Meghan, right? We wanted so badly to believe that, after their fairy tale wedding in Windsor, they would live happily ever after at the palace, er, Frogmore Cottage...but life prevailed. Circumstances are requiring them to become private citizens and test the waters doing something else. Sure, it’s made our January 2020 harder, but they’ll adapt and we’ll adapt. We’ll grow into this new role together. It’s going to be just fine.
Ditto Brad and Jen. Needless to say, their relationship has been a steady stream of highs and lows. Still, for a brief glimmering moment backstage, they showed the world that it is possible to come out on the other side and be better. (And look incredible at the same time. They’re both in their 50s. My God.)
Now, where does that leave us? With just enough hope for the year ahead, perhaps? TBH, I have zero clue what's to come this year, let alone in the decade beyond. But I do know that after seeing Brad and Jen, and after reframing the initially-disappointing news about Meghan and Harry, I officially have a new outlook on 2020: It’s going to be chock-full of emotional baggage and I’m here for it. And while it’s borderline insane to put that much hope and happiness in the lives of a celebrity couple or family that we’ve adopted as our own, there’s solace in knowing that there are happy endings, even if they aren't what we initially envisioned. And if we just take a moment, it might all work out? Brad and Jen are proof that we’ve been here before.
With that, deep breaths: It’s going to be just fine.