Late Sunday evening, while the world was distracted by yet another Trump tweet, longtime celebrity couple favorite Chris Pratt and Anna Faris quietly announced that they were breaking up. "Anna and I are sad to announce we are legally separating. We tried hard for a long time, and we're really disappointed. Our son has two parents who love him very much and for his sake we want to keep this situation as private as possible moving forward," Pratt posted on his Facebook page.
The split was immediately met with horror and dismay from fans, as is usually the case when two extremely likable, attractive, charismatic, and famous people divorce. But in truth, we knew this was coming. We knew it because, let's face it, we caused it.
Pratt and Faris had been plagued by rumors of an impending split for years, particularly following Pratt's rapid ascent to stardom with his starring role in Guardians of the Galaxy. Although Faris is a virtuosic comedienne with an incredibly impressive career of her own — she has a starring role in the CBS sitcom Mom and just completed a role in The Emoji Movie — the media couldn't help but ask her, time and time and time again, whether she resented her husband for his recent success — which is a recipe for stirring resentment between partners if ever there was one.
Which is precisely why we shouldn't be scratching our heads and wondering why Anna Faris and Chris Pratt broke up. The answer is clear: it's our fault, for making two people an emblem for all that was right in the world, while simultaneously relentlessly trying to find the flaws in a marriage that might very well have been rock solid to begin with.
Pratt is widely considered the better-known half of the couple: he is currently one of the most universally beloved and successful movie stars in the world, and his net worth is an estimated $30 million. Yet that hasn't always been the case. In the early-to-mid aughts, Faris' success greatly overshadowed that of her husband. "I've had those moments, where I was like the guy holding the purse at events and people just looked right through me," Pratt told GQ in 2015.
Thanks to her roles in the Scary Movie franchise and (the frankly criminally underrated) The House Bunny, Faris constantly made appearances on young Hollywood "faces to watch" list and was praised by critics for her offbeat comic timing. Yet she failed to find roles in films that could do her talents justice, appearing in doofy girlfriend roles in crass, bloated box office flops like Observe and Report or The Dictator. Following the release of the former in 2009 (which was, coincidentally, the same year that she married Pratt), critics started referring to her less as a star on the rise and more as an underutilized performer whose prodigious abilities were consistently overlooked.
"More than any contemporary comedienne I can think of... Faris demonstrates this fearless anything-for-a-laugh quality," Slate critic Dana Stevens wrote in a review of Faris' 2011 bomb What's Your Number?. "It would be wonderful to see her in a movie that tested the limits of that audacity, rather than forcing her to tamp it down."
We embarked upon an entirely bipolar relationship with their relationship. While gushy listicles praised the couple for being "relationship goals," fans also quickly started poking holes in their marriage.
Around the same time that Faris was downgraded to the B-list, Pratt started steadily climbing the ladder, graduating from comedic bit parts in films like What's Your Number? to scene-stealing roles in Moneyball and NBC's Parks & Recreation. When he became an unlikely leading man in 2014-2015, following his starring roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World, critics couldn't have been quicker to have heaped praise on his old-Hollywood charisma, not to mention his newly buff physique.
In the meantime, we embarked upon an entirely bipolar relationship with their relationship. While gushy listicles praised the couple for being "relationship goals," fans also couldn't have been quicker to have started poking holes in their marriage, especially by comparing Pratt's career trajectory with that of his wife's. Never mind that Faris has been consistently garnering critical praise for her performances since the beginning of her career; never mind the fact that she is 40, an age when actresses' careers typically take a hit, because they start being considered exclusively for nagging wives in Adam Sandler movies and sassy spinster BFF roles on Freeform. Instead of using Faris as a primary example of how Hollywood ageism and sexism contributes to the marginalization of even the most unique talents, fans started envisioning A Star Is Born-type scenarios where Faris and Pratt's relationship was ruined by fame and envy.
Around 2015, when Pratt was filming the movie Passengers with Jennifer Lawrence, rumors started swirling that Pratt had been unfaithful to Faris with Lawrence. The media ate the rumors up, breathlessly reporting on them and splashing photos of Lawrence and Pratt on their press tour on magazine covers. While all parties vehemently denied the rumors, Faris was reportedly (and understandably) heartbroken by them, publicly addressing the infidelity rumors in 2016 on her podcast.
"I just remember feeling so hurt in a way that bothered me," she told actress Isla Fisher. "I didn’t want to think of myself as somebody who could be bothered by the tabloid sh*t... I take pride in how great my relationship is with Chris, but having said that, of course, in this crazy world where he’s off doing movies and I’m in L.A. raising our child, of course I’m going to feel vulnerable, like any normal human would. ... It made me feel incredibly insecure."
Marriages break up for any number of reasons, including but not limited to career struggles, the pressure of raising a child together, or the pressure to be ridiculously happy together when you are, after all, just two people trying to make it work. In Pratt and Faris' case, they had to deal with all three.
Now that Pratt and Faris have officially broken up, many fans on Twitter are taking that as proof that Pratt did indeed cheat with Lawrence. (The fact that they are mostly blaming Lawrence, not Pratt, for this alleged dalliance is a different issue altogether.) Yet marriages break up for any number of reasons, including but not limited to career struggles, the pressure of raising a child together, or the pressure to be ridiculously happy together when you are, after all, just two people trying to make it work. In Pratt and Faris' case, they had to deal with all three, as well as intense scrutiny from the media and their fans, who had elevated them to dream celebrity couple status while simultaneously constantly looking for any chinks in their armor.
We could use Pratt and Faris' split as an opportunity to write a bunch of tweets about how there's no such thing as love and how broken-hearted we are and how even the most solid celebrity relationships are doomed to fail, etc. We could also faux-respectfully dismiss the news reports as none of our business, and urge others to leave them alone during this difficult time. But that would be disingenuous. When we put another couple on a pedestal and simultaneously do everything in our power to try to knock them off, we shouldn't be surprised when they eventually lose their balance — and we assume some of the blame for that.