|Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) after the infamous drunk-dial|
One thing I did NOT love was the aspect of Friends that most people were obsessed with: the on-again, off-again relationship of the TV sitcom supercouple, Ross and Rachel.
I've spent some time looking at different romantic comedies and the cliches that are used and re-used in cookie-cutter scripts, and I finally pinpointed the reason why Ross and Rachel always bothered me as a couple: over ten years (seriously, ten years!) of a will-they-or-won't-they relationship, they managed to cover almost every single one of my least favorite rom-com cliches.
|"WE WERE ON A BREAK!" in five, four, three...|
But we can't have something as simple as a man asking out a woman in episode two, her saying yes, and seeing the two of them date over time and eventually fall in love, now can we? No, we must insert drama and other complications. In this case, this drama results in Rachel conveniently forgetting that Ross liked her and becoming completely oblivious while he mooned after her for an entire season, making her look stupid and unobservant and him look pathetic. When she re-learns that he has a crush on her, she decides that she likes him too, but whoops - he's moved onto someone else, and now, instead of a season of Ross whining, we're treated to six episodes of Rachel being jealous and bratty to his new girlfriend.
When Ross is pining for Rachel, he's a whiner. When Rachel is pining for Ross, she's a jealous brat. Why am I supposed to root for them to get together?
|Rachel hangs up the phone while Ross is talking to Julie|
Is there something about the months of May and September that make Ross and Rachel fall back in love? Or is there something wrong with my suspension of disbelief, as I simply don't buy that the same two people can fall in and out of love with each other that many times?
|They had a KID together. A KID. And still didn't get back together for two stinking years.|
To be fair, Friends was initially honest about these issues and showed why the characters were in the wrong. Monica criticized Ross for being jealous, and his inability to get over his jealousy cost him his relationship with Rachel. Phoebe (and Hugh Laurie, in a great guest appearance) criticized Rachel for being selfish and wanting to end Ross's wedding.
But then Ross says Rachel's name at the altar. And at the end of the series, Rachel chooses Ross over a great new career opportunity in Paris with no apparent job to fall back on.
In the end, it doesn't matter that Ross lost Rachel when he was jealous, or that Rachel realized it was wrong to break up his wedding. In the end, Ross wins Rachel over her career, and Rachel gets to be with Ross instead of watching him marry someone else. Getting them together in the end seems to retroactively reward them for their previous bad behavior, justifying their actions as okay because they were really in love the whole time!
|Ross is jealous. This is a natural state of his.|
This was not a good thing for the Friends writers, apparently. Ross and Rachel were meant to be the endgame couple no matter what. The only thing to nip the Ross/Emily relationship in the bud was to turn Emily into a jerk who made him stay away from Rachel and move out of his apartment.
|Rachel watches Ross and Emily (Helen Baxendale)|
|Ross in his tiny T-shirt.|
"Oh, wait a minute," you might be saying. "You're telling me that you weren't moved by the last scene where they got back together for real?"
Well, of course I was moved. I'm not made of stone, people. She got off the plane!
Yes, I "aww" and I tear up at their last scene together, as ridiculous as it is. To me, that's a testament to how much Schwimmer and Aniston sold every step of the relationship. No matter how contrived the writing was, they committed to those romantic moments. Sometimes they made me forget how much their relationship got on my nerves. But when I'm re-watching old Friends episodes and indulging in some nostalgia, I tend to fast-forward the dramatic Ross and Rachel scenes, because those are too many cliches for me to handle with one couple.
Chandler and Monica, on the other hand - that's where the magic was.
|They got together - and STAYED together - with very little bullshit! How refreshing.|
Lady T is an aspiring writer and comedian with two novels, a play, and a collection of comedy sketches in progress. She hopes to one day be published and finish one of her projects (not in that order). You can find more of her writing at The Funny Feminist, where she picks apart entertainment and reviews movies she hasn’t seen.