Thanks to the magic of Netflix, the entire 10 season run of Friends is available at the push of a button. Now, if you have that handy Netflix subscription, you can watch any or all episodes at any time of the day or night. Of course, since I already had all 10 seasons on DVD, I technically had that ability for years. But who has time to deal with individual discs? Streaming the show is much more convenient.
At the heart of the series is the Ross/Rachel relationship. They were an official couple for exactly one year on the show, but the audience was constantly asking will they/won’t they? Despite Ross marrying Emily and in spite of any crush that Joey had on Rachel, it was inevitable that they would end up together, right? After all, he’s her lobster.
But things didn’t go so well the first time around. Everything was great while Ross wore the pants in the relationship. He was the smart paleontologist while Rachel was the waitress at Central Perk, trying to figure out what it meant to be on her own for the first time in her life. It all changed when Rachel began her career, leaving Ross jealous and confused when he was no longer the center of Rachel’s world. This led to a fight, which led to misunderstandings, which led to Ross sleeping with the Copy Girl, the final nail in the coffin of Ross and Rachel as a couple.
For the remaining seven seasons, Ross’ mantra became, “We were on a break!” He repeated this line over and over until even his friends were tired of hearing it. After making my way through the series on Netflix I have to ask, were they on a break?
The alleged break had been building up for several episodes in the third season. As I mentioned above, Ross was jealous, not only of all the time Rachel spent at work, but of the co-worker who had initially helped Rachel to get her new job with Bloomingdale’s. Ross couldn’t let go of his jealousy and kept picking the same fight, even when it had nothing to do with whatever conversation they were having. Ross allowed his own insecurities take center stage while his trust in his girlfriend disappeared completely. When the fight became too big for the relationship to withstand, Rachel suggested a break. “A break from us,” she said with a small sense of finality.
Ross then joined Joey and Chandler at a bar. Ross told the guys that, instead of having an anniversary, they were breaking up instead. They were there trying to flirt with the Copy Girl, but they spent time trying to convince their friend that he was being ridiculous. Meanwhile, Mark (the co-worker) just happened to call Rachel, figured out she was upset, and invited himself over to further put a wedge in her relationship with Ross. Ross comes to his senses and calls Rachel to reconcile. Rachel is relieved at his call, but soon panics when Ross hears Mark’s voice in the background. Ross assumes the worst and the break up is back on.
From Ross’ point of view, Rachel had immediately turned to the guy that he had been jealous off for months. Rachel may not have seen Mark in a romantic light, but she knew that he was a sincere point of contention for her boyfriend. If, as she would later exclaim, they were not on a break, she should have refused to allow Mark to even be there. Thus, a depressed and angry Ross drank too much and took the Copy Girl home with him.
Now, I would never condone jumping into bed with a woman on a drunken whim, but I have to side with Ross. They were on a break. And it was Rachel’s idea. And she solidified the break by having Mark at her apartment a short time after suggesting the break.
Again, I am in no way saying that Dr. Gellar was right to sleep with Copy Girl. In fact, I think it was very, very wrong of him to take Copy Girl home with him that night. I am merely saying that, defined by the state of the relationship at the time, Ross and Rachel were on a break. People may argue that “a break” does not automatically mean “break up.” But in the heat of the moment, Rachel did not elaborate on what she meant by “a break.” When Ross later called, for all he knew, she had already fallen into the arms of another man. For him, the “break” most likely meant “break up.” Also, Hugh Laurie, playing a random airplane passenger sitting next to Rachel as she flew to London to break up Ross’ wedding to Emily, stated that Ross and Rachel were clearly on a break. And if Dr. House says they were on a break, who are we, as a society, to argue?
Agree? Disagree? This is, of course, open to debate. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.