My fiancée is not as big of a “Friends” fan as I am. Meaning, she’ll watch a few episodes with me if I have it on the TV in the background while I’m vacuuming or dusting (read: if I have it on in the background during sex), but she is by no means a diehard fan. Now, that sounds great, because as a diehard “Friends” fan, I have someone to explain all my “Friends” opinions too, since she has few of her own. It sucks for her, but it’s wonderful for me, which is the underlying basis of every healthy, loving relationship.
I get to explain that Ross has loved Rachel since high school, that Monica used to be fat and lost all that weight because of a comment Chandler made at Thanksgiving, and any other minute detail that I think is super significant that she doesn’t really give a shit about. We’ll occasionally debate over what character we each are (I’m Rachel—according to me, because we share a love for overalls and wrecking ex-boyfriend’s weddings, and according to my fiancée, because she is a spoiled brat).
None of this casual, easy banter we had going over the series could have prepared me for what was to come.
We were watching one of the most pivotal episodes of all time, which is season three, episode fifteen: “The One Where Ross And Rachel Take A Break.” After a fight because Ross brought a picnic to her office when she said she was too busy to celebrate their anniversary, Rachel tells Ross she wants to take a break from their relationship, and he goes to a bar and immediately sleeps with another woman. Everyone knows what happens after that: the biggest onscreen fight ever ensures, where Rachel accuses Ross of cheating on her, and Ross defends himself by saying that he thought they were broken up at the time, in which case it isn’t really cheating.
It’s clear who is correct here: no one. No one is correct. The entire situation was a giant shitstorm. That’s the problem with “taking a break” as opposed to just breaking up. The rules have to be clearly defined or else you end up hungover with the hot copy place girl in your bed. Ross never even responds to Rachel when she says she wants to take a break, so it’s very unclear as to what the situation actually is, or whether they were just having a massive fight and weren’t on an official break at all.
But everyone who watches it still has a side. You either fall in the realm of Team Rachel, or Team Ross, and that says so much about who a person truly is. My fiancée acknowledged the night we watched the episode, much to my dismay, that she sympathizes with Ross. What the hell, right?
Ross orchestrated the misery of the entire situation on himself. If he hadn’t been so clingy and insecure, Rachel wouldn’t have gotten so frustrated with him in the first place and said the fatal phrase “let’s go on a break” at all. When Ross comes to her office with all the picnic gear and interrupts Rachel in the middle of her workplace, I can start to feel my teeth grinding. When you love someone and that person finally gets a new job they love, and your reaction to that is to come in like a teenaged moron and jeopardize that success and stress them out even more because you’re being jealous and possessive, that makes me insane. I’m also on her side in the next episode, when she breaks up with him for good after finding out he slept with someone else. The night an altercation like that occurs, if you truly care about the person in question, you don’t go fuck that hot girl from the copy place. I don’t care if you’re broken up officially, or on a break like these two were. You do not do that. Fucking hot copy place girls later on down the line is fine if the fight sticks, two days later doesn’t even bother me, but not the night the break happens. If you don’t give a fuck about the other person, that’s different. Have at it. But Ross loves Rachel, and that makes it unforgivable.
My loving ball and chain, on the other hand, argues that if Rachel had been more attentive and compassionate to Ross’s past issues and how his jealousy stemmed from being hurt before, the relationship would’ve survived. According to her, Ross was just acting like anyone who is crazily and romantically in love, and terrified that he was losing the love of his life. It’s true that his first wife turned out to be a lesbian who did cheat on him, and that fact contributes to his later insecurity. I admit to that truthfulness, but I don’t think that excuses his psycho behavior, or the fact that he goes out and bangs another chick the night of his breakup with (and anniversary, technically) Rachel.
Needless to say, once it was discovered that the two of us were on such opposite fences when it came to the situation, a massive fight ensued. It was the kind of fight where we had to pause in the middle to get some snacks to sustain ourselves, and then continued arguing for several more hours. According to her, if you truly love someone and believe you’re meant to be with them forever, you forgive them for fucking other people the night you announce you want to take a break. According to me, if she ever tries pulling that shit, she’ll find herself sleeping on the front porch, very single.
I don’t think we’ll ever come to a consensus about this. We ended up having to agree to disagree on the issue. But, it is good to know that if I ever pull a Ross and fuck the hot girl from the copy place on the night we have a fight, I can argue that if she thinks Ross is forgivable in that situation, then so am I. I think we all know who the real winner of this argument is, now, don’t we?
Image via YouTube / NBC