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When a closer walks into the room, you take notice. Zack Morris’s dad walked softly and carried a big cell phone while Gordon Gekko simply knocks everyone back with the stench of his hair gel. Every closer has their tool of the trade – their trademark. Leonard Green, the father of Friends staple Rachel Green, is no different.
I rarely catch Friends on television anymore as it’s become a staple “toss on in the background on Netflix while we scroll our phones” show. But while getting ready for a wedding on Saturday, I turned on the guide-less hotel television and stopped on the first familiar show I came across. The show was, in fact, Friends, and the episode was “The One with the Two Parties.” It’s Rachel’s birthday and Monica et al. decide to throw a party where “complications ensue when Rachel’s estranged parents show up at the surprise party that the gang planned for her.” Netflix’s words, not mine.
Before we get into the episode, revel in the glory that is Dr. Green’s biography on the Friends wiki page to prepare yourself for what’s to come.
Depicted as being a very unpleasant and also rather amoral individual, he is an overbearing perfectionist who demands that anything his children do reap instant, flawless results.
Dr. Green is a traditional Jewish stereotype: the overbearing, oft-critical doctor. Dr. Green is also a hypocrite – a smoking cardiologist, he scared a young Rachel with smoker’s lungs yet kept puffing away, perhaps leading to his heart attack.
His first appearance on the show occurs during “The One with the Two Parties.” The moment they hear a knock at the door, you know it’s on.
Look at that shit-eating grin. That’s the look of a man who calls his shot and never misses. His hair is perfectly windblown from what I assume to be the Miata he drove in. His scoopneck shirt is years ahead of its time, and while it does put off a “Where’s Waldo?” vibe, it also pairs perfectly with his tan that screams, “Yeah, I like to get a little nauti from time to time.” And by “time to time,” I mean he fucking lives on his damn boat. He’s wearing a Nautica jacket with a collar that reaches up to his ears, a staple of the sailing community. His timepiece probably costs more than your car, and while you can’t see the shoes he’s wearing, you have to assume their a fine leather loafer made out of the skin of an exotic animal. Pair everything with a pair of relaxed fit white pleated pants, and all of the sudden you’re in the Green Zone and there’s no getting out.
Upon busting in and being introduced to Phoebe, Chandler, and Joey, Dr. Green drops a powerful, “I’m never going to remember all of that.” He promptly walks to the bar cart and starts pouring himself a glass of Johnny Walker Black without asking, “Mind if I pour myself a drink?” Closers take what’s there’s, and Dr. Green has never seen a bottle of scotch that didn’t have his name written all over it.
He obviously drinks it neat because all ice does is take away the bite that the scotch provides, and Dr. Green knows that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
When Joey attempts to help him bring his jacket to Rachel’s bed (because that’s where people stored their coats at parties in the 90s), he mocks Joey by saying, “Alright, that sounds like a two-person job.” Joey, possibly the most lovable character through the entire series, isn’t even safe from Dr. Green’s jabs. Leonard knows that the easiest way to assert your dominance upon someone is by completely mocking them, which he does to Joey without hesitation.
They quickly hustle Dr. Green out of Monica’s apartment and across the hall to Chandler’s apartment where they have a makeshift party set up to keep him separated from Rachel’s mom, who showed up moments before. The fact that his sheer presence makes other party-goers shudder just shows the dominance this man displays on a daily basis.
Oh, and now that his jacket is off, he’s displaying a quarter-zip sweater because everyone knows the quarter-zip is the “power suit” of the weekend.
As the episode progresses, it gets to the point where Rachel enters Chandler and Joey’s apartment for the second of two surprise parties. Upon entering, she sees Dr. Green who stands in the center of the room with his trademark shit-eating grin. A grin that instills fear into his enemies, as evidenced by the look on Joey’s face.
It’s no coincidence that Dr. Green is surrounded by women at this party. The scent of cigarettes and scotch linger on his quarter-zip to create an intoxicating scent of man.
The only person in the room who can rival him is a man in the corner of the kitchen who looks like Joey from Blossom. But even his power hair, black suit, and matching black t-shirt are no rival for Dr. Green. Knockoff Blossom Joey also stares directly at the ass of Rachel Green while she hugs her father, and while it was never shown on camera, Dr. Green would later drag KBJ into the bathroom by his ear and tell him to “stay away from his fucking daughter.”
While the classic song “Shoe Box” by The Barenaked Ladies plays in the background, Ross sits down next to Dr. Green to engage in some light-hearted conversation. This was a mistake by Ross for several reasons. First, Dr. Green is parked in one of the two recliners in the center of the room. The alpha that he is, he knows that even though he’s a guest in someone else’s apartment, any seat his heart desires will be his. Ross, noted beta male, sits down next to him in an equally large recliner. This is like a gazelle trying to attack the same prey as a lion. Dr. Green refuses to even make eye contact with Ross, which is both respectable and necessary in this scenario.
Secondly, Ross attempts to engage in shop talk. A cardiologist by trade, Dr. Green is not having it. After all, Ross teaches about childish dinosaurs for a living and Dr. Leonard Green operates on lungs. Ross makes an even larger mistake by asking how everything in the “vascular surgery game” is going. But Dr. Green knows that business is not a game, but a sport. With a dead stare and a disgusted look on his face, Dr. Green tells him, “It’s not a game, Ross – a woman died on my table today.”
Ross is officially against the ropes, but that comes with the territory when you get in the ring with Dr. Green. Leonard stands up to get a drink only to have Ross stand up with him, offering to get the drink for him himself. Yes, there’s another party occurring that Dr. Green shouldn’t know about, but Dr. Green has Ross eating out of the palm of his hand regardless. He clarifies that the drink must be “neat, as in no rocks,” while pointing at Ross with the same finger he used to kill a woman just earlier that day.
Dr. Green exits the party to find the cigarettes that he left in his jacket (which is in Rachel’s room). This leads to one of the best displays Dr. Green has to offer. His complete disregard for Ross shows through when Ross tells him that he’ll get the cigarettes, only to 1. Never thank Ross and 2. Tell Ross, “And get my glasses too.” He’s a brash New Yorker who owes nothing to anyone, especially the guy who’s obviously sticking it to his daughter.
Ross again exits the adjacent party and meets Dr. Green in the hall wearing Dr. Green’s glasses with one of Dr. Green’s cigarettes in his mouth.
No one, and I mean no one, should wear another man’s glasses under any circumstance – especially if they’re the glasses of a cigarette-smoking cardiologist who would rather be sailing than drinking scotch at his daughter’s birthday.
Dr. Green is unimpressed with Ross having one of his cigarette’s in his mouth, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone because Dr. Green is unimpressed with the entire world because no one will ever be on his level. All he wants to do is smoke cigarettes inside of a crowded party because nothing shows that you own a party quite like blowing smoke down their throats.
His role in the episode, unfortunately, diminishes from this point on. But not without gems sprinkled in throughout the second half of the episode. He complains to Rachel about her mother spending $1,200 on Bonzi trees which is essentially just a humble-brag about being able to afford $1,200 worth of Bonzi trees. They juxtapose this conversation with Rachel’s mom telling her that “all he cares about is his stupid boat,” which are the truest words ever spoken on Friends. You can tell by his tan.
The entire episode is just one long crescendo in the orchestra of Dr. Green when he delivers the line to Phoebe that everyone had been waiting for.
“I have to be heading toward my chateau.”
And with that, he exits the scene and episode until his next appearance in “The One With The Race Car Bed.” But we’ll get to that one later. .
Images via Netflix