Back in the early 90s, it seemed that everything was about 6 friends living in New York, who spent all their time drinking coffee in the Central Perk ‘struggling’ through their everyday lives as they moved through their 20s and 30s. Jobs, kids, relationships.
One relationship, in particular, was the focus for a large amount of the 10 seasons that Friends were on the air; that of geeky palaeontologist Ross Geller and fashionista Rachel Green.
For the first season and a half they were the epitome of ‘will they, won’t they?’ and then they became a couple and you could hear the ‘awws’ and ‘cheers’ as they shared their first kiss.
It was romantic! He was soaked from the rain, she was wearing her Central Perk waitress uniform, and it seemed like everything was perfect, that this was their ‘happily ever after’.
Of course, this didn’t last, because Ross is jealous, possessive, obsessive and just generally a five-year-old child in an adult’s body.
Yes, Rachel is a little bit fickle, but by the time she’s been living with Monica and supporting herself for two and a half seasons she has started to find out who she is. She’s growing up and growing beyond Ross’s behaviour.
The whole “we were on a break” thing, is ridiculous and shows Ross for the pathetic child he truly is. It’s unsurprising that he is a participant in more ‘long term’ relationships than anyone else in the show, including several marriages.
He is completely oblivious, it seems, to his ridiculous behaviour, even going so far as to invade a date that his first ex-wife Carol is having with her wife Susan. He refuses to acknowledge that the fact he slept with someone else less than 24-hours after Rachel said that they needed to take a break from each other was worse than a mistake. He was driven by pointless jealousy of someone that helped the girlfriend he said he loved to get a job that she really wanted and had been trying to get since her parents cut her off financially.
We know that they end up together, that they have a child together and they both have several unsuccessful relationships (including a marriage between them that Ross lies about). However, the journey that they take to get there is not one that leads to the fairytale happily ever after. Ross is manipulative, immature, and a bit of a jerk.
During the show’s 10 season run, Ross gets married 3 times and has a total of 16 girlfriends/sexual partners. Rachel is married once (to Ross) and has 13 relationships, over half of which ended up being relatively long-term relationships (that said, it’s only 10 years!).
Anyone other than Ross would have been better for Rachel, including the sweetly dim Joey.
Ultimately, they have a baby together (Emma), and in the spin-off series, Joey, it’s revealed that the couple ended up married. But in order for this to happen, Rachel had to give up her dream of moving to Paris and having an even more successful career in fashion…
Ross and Rachel are a common thread throughout the entire Friends run, but this doesn’t mean that they are each other’s happily ever after, just that circumstance pushes them together and it was a neat ending, for everyone!
Though, if I am being honest, they were and are, for me, the emptiest couple in the show and that particular thread remains my least favourite of the entire 10 seasons.