Unmarried With Children: How Brangelina Represent New Domestic Norms

Retro fashion may be hot right now, but retro family models, not so much. Even Lucy and Ricky ended up calling it quits in 1960. But with perpetual flame Brad Pitt playing the stern patriarch of a 1950s family in Terrence Malick’s Palme d’Or-winning new film The Tree of Life, the irony begs the question: what does Brad know about being married with children?

As unmarried partners, Brangelina and their multi-cultural conglomerate of happy rainbow orphans are certainly a far cry from Malick’s representation of the nuclear family of the Return to Normalcy Era in Tree of Life. And although Pitt and Jolie’s courtship may be like catnip for the paparazzi (because every human being in that mansion is angelically beautiful), there’s another reason people love to know what’s going on with the Jolie-Pitt brood.

They are the rich-and-famous embodiment of the new norm, a successful, yet unorthodox, family model for the 21st century. Their relationship is something weirdly unsurprising for Millennials (as US Weekly often proclaims: Celebrities! They’re just like us!).

After two failed marriages – to Johnny Lee Miller, then Billy Bob Thornton – a few unfortunate tattoo decisionsembarrassing photos that circulated the Internet and the estrangement from her famous father, Angelina Jolie became a single mother with a great career and a philanthropic calling.

Brad Pitt escaped the grasp and “Mini Me-ness” of Gwyneth Paltrow, got his swirl on with Mike Tyson’s ex, took off his shirt many, many times, did his part to spawn the contemporary vampire craze and found himself stuck in a loveless, sexless, childless marriage to the girl that everyone was in love with.

Then unexpectedly, BOOM – it happened. Now six years in, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have enough kids to start a daycare, bucket-loads of cash and are increasingly infatuated with each other at every public appearance.

The Brangelina story is also eerily familiar (besides cash buckets) to many with married friends. The tale of two people who attempted and failed at emulating the traditional family model and stable (read: “predictable”) married relationship that everyone is supposed to want and have. Instead, what works is something off from the norm: a long distance engagement may have sounded strange a few years ago, but today it makes sense to prioritize a career before building a life together; relationships with a female breadwinner are commonplace; and unless you’re a Teen Mom star, having a child out of wedlock isn’t the worst thing you could do.  It’s pretty much your prerogative whatever you choose to do.

Sure it’s nice to get married. But if my man was giving me the loving that Brad is clearly giving his lady, I’d be okay with never getting married. After all, a sheet of paper isn’t exactly a binding agreement anymore. Just ask Angelina and Brad.

Do you know any couples like Brad and Angelina?

Would you feel comfortable with an unorthodox, unmarried partnership?

Valeria Villarroel Recent College Grad, New Employee, who's media-obsessed. Straddling the line between low-tech and new-tech. Writer. Personality. Fangirl. I love thinking about and debating brit-pop, media, politics, and social issues. I have a lot of things to say, and probably not enough words to say it. Find me on twitter @Maleria_withaV

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2 Responses to “Unmarried With Children: How Brangelina Represent New Domestic Norms”

  1. Yelper

    I’ve read a lot of dumb things, but presenting multi millionaire Hollywood movie stars as the new typical family, has to be at the very top of the idiocy heap.


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