See web-only content:
In the Friends pilot, Rachel Green (the character that Aniston made iconic) burst into Central Perk soaking wet and wearing a wedding dress befitting Little Bo Peep. She was a spoiled daddy's girl from Long Island with a shrill voice, over-the-top emotions, and a comic self-centeredness. Over the series' 10 seasons, Aniston developed Rachel into a kooky, ditzy, bumbling nutjob with a knack for slapstick, pratfalls, and silly faces—relatable and endearing, of course, but hardly an ingénue.
MORE ON FALL TV:
Kevin Fallon: 12 TV Shows You're Not Watching (But Should)
Aylin Zafar: 'Modern Family' Premiere: 3 Lessons in Letting Go
The Atlantic Glee Panel: 'Glee' Season Premiere: The More Things Change...
While the press gestates as to why she's so famous despite her failures, and a survey of blog opinion on the actress continues to be decidedly unfavorable, it's worth remembering she is a talented actress. In addition to her Friends acclaim, she won glowing reviews for her performance in 2002's The Good Girl, as a bored discount store clerk in a small town. Her most recent release The Switch—in which she plays a free spirit and channels a bit of Rachel Green—was her most well-received performance in years. It's certainly no coincidence that of Aniston's leading roles, these two roles were the most layered, odd, and left-of-center—and relied most on Aniston's skills as a character actress.
Her loopy performance on last night's Cougar Town was the comic highlight of the episode (critics enjoyed her too). These two larger than life roles allowed Aniston to revisit her physical comedy prowess, and showed were her true talent lies
It is unlikely that Aniston—who is undeniably a movie star now and will have no trouble finding more feature work—will return to TV in any regular capacity. But what if she were to turn her one-off guest appearances into a recurring role, in the vein of Jon Hamm on 30 Rock, or even Tom Selleck back in the Friends days? It's easy to see how a character actress as beautiful and talented as Jennifer Aniston could be confused for a Hollywood ingénue, but as last night's Cougar Town proved, playing these silly characters is really when Jen's at her best. And is exactly why she's such a star.
This article available online at: