Here’s the stone-cold truth: I’m a Friends expert. I’ve seen every episode at least 99 times. I can quote every episode, and I can apply a Friends scenario to help with almost every life situation. But the one issue I have with the show—and that I know many fans share—involves Ross and Rachel.
When the show first started, I was all about the nerdy guy Ross from high school getting together with his “lobster,” the popular cheerleader Rachel. I still cringe over that stupid list Ross made when deciding between “Rachum” and Julie (like there ever really was a decision to be made!). And I still cry whenever I see the flashback prom video that finally propelled Ross and Rachel together.
Now, I get it. Ross and Rachel got together in season 2, and the show went on for 10 years, so “…and they lived happily ever after” was not going to cut it. There had to be perpetual ~drama~ to keep us hooked. Director James Burrow explained, when the Friends cast reunited in January, “It’s the same as Sam and Diane (from Cheers). They flirted for a lot longer, but you have to shake it up … If you don’t fight, and if you don’t get angry, you have no place to go.”
But the whole “we were on a break” bullshit that split them up in season 3 and kept them from fully getting back together until the last 5 minutes of the entire series has always irked fans.
They were NOT on a break!
Yes, the words were said in the heat of the moment, but the actions of actually taking a break had not yet been fulfilled. The truth is that Ross effed up big time. If this was going to a jury, I’m convinced I would win as I present to you my evidence that will once and for all settle this national dividing line.
1. There’s always a cooling off period.
Yes, there was a lot of tension between Ross and Rachel leading up to their “break.” He was feeling insecure that she had a fancy new job with a very good-looking boss who clearly had a crush on her. It was their anniversary, and Rachel could barely give Ross the time of day. Can we just chalk it up to a bad night? Rachel was tired and stressed because who wouldn’t be driven to drink by the needy, clingy, annoying way Ross handled things? So, she told him she wanted to “take a break from us.” He left in a huff, she didn’t know what she was saying. It’s just pure common sense to take a break for the night, and then, the next day, confirm that’s actually sticking.
TL;DR: Taking a break for the night does not mean having sex with someone else. It means relax in a bubble bath with a glass of wine and your thoughts!
2. There’s no way Ross would have thrown in the towel so quickly.
So, you’re telling me he was just going to accept that they were on a break? He wasn’t going to go home and write her a love note or make her a mix tape (this was the ’90s, after all!) or sit outside waiting for Rachel to leave for work the next morning and pounce on her to make things right? This is a guy who pined over Rachel since high school—and who had only slept with one other woman besides Rachel. Suddenly he needs to get blinding drunk and sow his wild penis?
3. Maybe that’s just how Rachel fights?
Sometimes fighting with your significant other—especially if you’ve been having the same fight over and over—can just leave you so exhausted and depleted that at a certain point you’re just on autopilot, not even realizing what you’re saying anymore. And I think it was just Rachel’s style to shut down. When she said “let’s take a break…from us,” it was obvious that she meant from the fight. Not the relationship. But, Ross reacted emotionally too, spinning on his heels and leaving without any further explanation. WTF?! Again, they were together long enough that Ross should have realized after he cooled down that Rachel was just emotionally spent and needed a night to decompress.
4. Ross wouldn’t have had to cover up his trail if they were actually on a break.
This is what has bugged me more than anything for almost 20 years now. If Ross was so sure they were on a break and so positive that he was a single guy with no girlfriend to worry about hurting, then why did he go to such lengths to cover the trail? If they were on this alleged break then it shouldn’t matter that “the hot girl from the Xerox place” seduced him. He should have opened the door to greet Rachel that morning with his arms proudly around his one night stand. You know, the one who was going to ruin his love life for the next 10 years!