Those who follow my Facebook timeline know how crazy I am about the legendary sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S. (Can I write FRIENDS from now on because putting a ‘. ‘after every letter is not easy for a lazy bum like me?) The perfect testimonial for that is my daughter who could recognize all the lead characters of the show and even pronounce their names more or less correctly before she turned 2.
There are so many things that I can and will write about FRIENDS. Right now, I am kind of doing an “inky-pinky-ponky” selection from all the FRIENDS-related topics I have in mind. And I have selected the ever-famous “We were on a break” conundrum which millions of fans fight about even today 15 years since the last episode.
I’ll cut to the chase and make my stand clear right away – it is bullshit that you have a major fight with your partner, sleep with someone hardly a couple of hours after that and then try to justify yourself by saying “We were on a break”.
While no reason is really needed to support that stand, I will nonetheless go into some other things about the whole “Ross & Rachel” drama that most people love, but I have always hated personally. Just consider this a vent to my pent-up frustration about this for years. (That should tell you I really am crazy.) All the characters in the show are portrayed as ordinary human beings who have their flaws along with good. But Rachel has been comparatively a notch higher than most others in her ability to get her way even if it upsets someone else. The way she, unintentionally maybe, steals Monica’s thunder on every big day of hers and then makes Monica feel guilty about it is a very trivial, but consistent example. But even more irritating are instances like how she knew Monica had the name “Emma” in her mind from the time she was 14 for a baby girl she would someday have, but still acted all weepy after making Monica say it until she was gracious enough to let her have it. Or the time when she chose to go out on a date with Van Damme after playing “wingman” for Monica who had a huge crush on him. The way she played with Joey’s feelings (a guy who was truly in love with her for who she was) is yet another. I could list out so many such instances.
Having said how selfish Rachel could be, she was definitely the better half when it came to her relationship with Ross. While every character is shown to have some level of insecurity in his/her relationships, Ross is one guy who is terribly insecure when it comes to any woman he is involved with. Blame it on the wife-turned-lesbian fiasco. But with all the goodness he was shown to have in many ways, he was just a very difficult boyfriend. That is something shown consistently in all his relationships on the show. With Rachel though, that was one level higher.
He does not make a proper move in letting her know his feelings for her, then when she accidentally tells him how she feels, he yells at her for trying to ruin what he has with Julie, later that night he kisses her, the next day he has cold feet in deciding to be with Rachel and ends up giving stupid reasons in a horrible list that she finds out. After all this they still get together and he has his dream come true. (I still don’t know why they kept saying he was in love with her for 10 years when he fell in love, got married and divorced in those 10 years and met Rachel again only after all this. Teenage crush blown out of proportion!) But we realize how shallow he is the moment Rachel stops being a waitress who had all the time in the world for him and looks out for a real job that can finally give her a career that she always wanted, but never had. When Mark, a guy who helps Rachel find a new job and becomes a colleague, enters the storyline, all the precious unconditional love becomes a joke. It is all downhill from there, thanks to Ross who displays the emotional maturity of a 3-year-old.
I practically hate the Ross-Rachel storyline during these seasons for two reasons. As I already said, this was the first ever time Rachel had a real job, something to prove her accomplishment to the world. From cutting up her father’s credit cards into pieces to taking up waitressing to pay her bills, it was a struggle for her. And then she gets a well-deserved break doing something that she actually loves. Being a newbie, she has to give her all to the job to make sure that she survives there. Unlike everyone else who faced the newbie phase years before, she is alone in this phase at almost 28 years of age. Not being able to understand how hard she needed to work, not supporting her through the scary initial phase, not looking back at his own first days at a new job as a youngster is proof enough that what he wanted was not a strong, independent equal, but a girlfriend who was always available to pamper him and spoil him. There is in fact a scene where she tries to explain why she was working her ass off at something that was entirely hers and how she needed his support for that. But although he nods along, he shows later in the scene how doesn’t understand her at all.
On top of this, he keeps bringing up his insecurity and fear that she is secretly attracted to Mark, embarrassing her multiple times at her workplace and making her explain how she loves only him. And in the final fight when after all the talk from Rachel about how she had to giver her job her all considering how she was still a “fresher”, he asks yet again – “Is this about Mark?” Rachel’s exasperated response to that is just about every sensible viewer’s response at this point – “I cannot have the same fight over and over again!” And that is the point where she says “Maybe we should take a break… from us.”
He sulks at a bar and decides to call Rachel only after being pushed by Chandler and Joey. And the moment he hears Mark’s voice at her apartment he proves yet again that trust in his partner is not his biggest strength and presumes she is going to sleep with him. That was probably the only lame reason he needed to sleep with some woman, thus proving himself to be the biggest schmuck on the show. This was just the starting though.
After trying to hide what he did and apologizing and crying while trying to convince Rachel to take him back when she did find out the truth – after causing months of stress and even insinuating that she would cheat on him and then doing the same thing himself – he changes gears. The moment he realizes Rachel is not going to forgive him for betraying her trust, he plays the weepy victim card and treats her like shit for putting him through misery. The apologies and cries to take him back switch to an arrogant “We were on a break!” There is an episode post their break-up which shows the difficulty of the other four in handling the situation and how they finally ask both of them to make things work for the sake of the group. The way he whines and cribs about being all alone and wanting his friends with him when they tell him they have plans with Rachel for the weekend makes you want to slap him. He does not care about the fact that she is alone too every time they are with him. He whines to Susan and even makes her believe that they ended things because Rachel fell for Mark. This is one episode where I kind of hated all of them for not realizing that Rachel was the one who needed more of their support for the way she was left betrayed and devastated by the man she loved. But their pity on their oldest friend for his misery, forgetting how it was his fault in the first place, and their discussion of how someone should stay back to take care of him, thus ditching Rachel, made them all prigs pretty much.
He doesn’t end there. When he feels he might have a second chance with Rachel, he does not mind dumping another girl in the middle of the night and also expects Rachel to take equal responsibility for their break-up, using the “We were on a break” bullshit again. That line keeps coming up once in a while throughout the series, including the last episode where after so much of Bollywood drama, they finally move from their ‘on and off’ status to a proper relationship again. Not once is he shown to realize or admit that what he did was wrong and how it wasn’t her fault.
Oh! And by the way, while he had multiple relationships and even a marriage after they parted ways, every time anyone wants to date her or when Joey and Rachel hit it off – he has to sulk or overreact with the line “Because it’s Rachel!” Loosely translated to “I can date, I can get married. But she can’t, because someday I might screw up with every other woman and then we might end up together again. Because she’s my safety line.”
So Ross, you might have your goodness in so many aspects. But get this – YOU WERE NOT ON A BREAK! And for that and for all the times you have been an insecure, controlling, whiny cry-baby with women – you really are a jerk.