I, like thousands of people in the world, am a huge fan of the T.V. show Friends. Although I was very young when it ended, I’ve been able to enjoy it through reruns. With Joey and Chandler’s antics, Phoebe’s ridiculous songs, and Ross and Rachel’s ongoing relationship drama, I was hooked the first time I watched it.
Just a few years ago, the show was added to Netflix. When it was added, I decided to sit down and watch it. After all, it had been a while since I’d last seen it. As usual, I enjoyed it. However, I noticed something that I hadn’t about Ross and Rachel. Not only did their relationship problems get annoying at times, but they also verged on the point of emotionally abusive.
There were quite a few points during the show where I noticed this; however, I’ve narrowed it down to five points which really stood out to me:
Let’s start with the most controversial topic: whether or not they were on a break. Even if Ross believed “taking a break” meant breaking up, Rachel clearly meant they needed space, but wasn’t ready to end the relationship fully. So yes, like it or not, Ross cheated during the “break”.
2. They’ve ruined each other’s relationships
Ever notice how whenever Rachel realizes (or re-realizes) her feelings for Ross, it usually happens when he’s in another relationship? And then she goes out of her way to ruin the relationship? When he got together with Julie, she caused their breakup in the second season episode “The One With the List” by leaving a voicemail while Julie was at Ross’s apartment. In season three, she convinces Bonnie to shave her head in an attempt to win Ross back. And we can’t forget the season four special “The One With Ross’s Wedding”, when she ruins Ross and Emily’s wedding by simply appearing in the congregation. But Ross isn’t innocent either. In season three, he gets jealous about Mark and Rachel’s relationship, and attempted to ruin Rachel’s chances at getting a job at Bloomingdales. Later, in a season nine episode, Rachel meets a guy at a bar, and gives him her phone number. When the guy calls later, Ross picks up. In an act of jealousy, he decides not to pass the message along to Rachel.
In the season five finale, Ross and Rachel drunkenly elope in Las Vegas. Most of season six is spent trying to undo this mistake. Eventually, Ross has no choice but to get divorced for the third time. Not wanting to be known for having three failed marriages, he hides the divorce papers, and lies to Rachel, saying he’s signed them. Eventually, he gets caught, and is forced to sign them, but we’ll never forget how Ross lied about something so important to protect himself.
4. Controlling behavior
In “The One With the Male Nanny”, as the title suggests, Rachel hires a male nanny to look after Emma. Ross is annoyed by her decision, and is even more annoyed by how sensitive the nanny is. He tries to convince Rachel to fire him, before doing it himself. This episode annoyed me, not just because of the reason above, but it also shows the gender enforcing side of Ross for the second time in the show.
5. Guilt trip
And finally, we get to the iconic series finale. In the episodes leading up to it, Rachel lands a job at Louis Vuitton– in Paris. As it’s the ultimate dream job for anyone who loves fashion, she packs up, taking Emma with her. However, Ross is unhappy about this decision. In the finale, he races to the airport, in an attempt to tell Rachel he loves her. Although initially going through with her move as planned, Rachel eventually gets off the plane, as she realizes she loves Ross too.
Although I was happy they got back together the first time I watched this, the most recent time I watched it, I realized what a sh*tty move Ross had made. For starters, this was Rachel’s dream job, and he had basically guilted her into giving it up for him. A cliched phrase also comes into mind when I think of this episode. “If you love something, let it go.” And it’s true. If Ross truly loved Rachel, he would allow her to go through with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, instead of making her stay in New York, with a job she wasn’t happy enough with.
While, to most people, Ross and Rachel may just seem like an imperfect couple, if you look further, their actions often get worse than that. Even if you still love them together after reading this, please remember they are far from perfect– or healthy– and should not be idolized as such.