May 12, 2018
10 annoying things I noticed across 10 seasons of Friends
Watching 10 seasons of Friends makes you realize some things: Ross was a jerk, a minor character had the saddest fate, and no one seemed to own a bra.
Even though I was too young to remember Friends in its initial 1994-2004 run, I grew up watching the reruns, so I knew the episodes pretty well. At least I thought I did, until I binge watched all ten seasons when the show became available on Netflix.
I finished “The Last One” at 3 am, and when I shut down my laptop and finally went to sleep, I realized that there are a lot of things off about Friends I didn’t notice the first time around. And I’m not talking about obvious stuff like how it’s impossible that Monica was able to afford that spacious two bedroom apartment in the Village even with her supposed rent control or how it’s ironic that Ross and Rachel were billed as the series’ top couple when they were only together for two out of the ten seasons. I’m talking about stuff you don’t notice until you sit down and watch all 236 episodes all in a row. Buckle up, kids. I’m going to point out some stuff that will blow your mind.
10. No one seemed to own a bra
We were sitting in our friend’s living room, slowly making our way through season 1. My friend Danielle had been living under a rock for the last twenty years, so it was fascinating to watch the reactions of a person watching the show for the first time. We were watching “The One With the Monkey” (Season 1, Episode 10) and enjoying it until Danielle turned around and asked, “Did no one wear a bra in this show?”
Then we looked back at the screen, and sure enough, you could tell how cold that studio was just by looking at Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel’s chests. And this wasn’t just limited to season 1 and the wackiness of 1994. In almost every single episode, you can totally see someone’s nipples at least once.
This is a family friendly-ish website so I took the liberty of censoring them in these screencaps, but they’re there, trust me.
I can’t really figure out an explanation why the NBC censors allowed this to slide for ten years. Was this just a ’90s thing that was acceptable for the time? Were networks execs hoping that a little titiliation would keep the ratings high? Did Jennifer, Courteney, and Lisa blow all their money and somehow never have any left over for a Wonderbra? These are the questions that keep me up at night.
9. Paolo really wasn’t that good-looking
I remember watching Friends the first time around and thinking that Ross needed to chill out about Rachel dating this Italian Stallion. But then rewatching the show, I found myself agreeing with Ross: what exactly did Rachel see in Paolo? Because, uh, there really wasn’t much to look at.
I know, I know. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that, and I know that in different time periods certain aesthetics are more pleasing than others. For some reason in the early ’90s, men with long hair who dressed in oversized baggy
potato sacks slacks were in vogue, and this explains why long-haired, pleated pants-wearing Paolo was considered to be hot despite the fact that he looks like he stumbled out of a burlap factory. But I just can’t believe that Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, and any woman who was within a five-mile radius thought Paolo (played by Cosimo Fusco) was quote-unquote “yummy”. I mean, the guy isn’t ugly, but everyone was acting like he was the second coming of James Dean and Marlon Brando rolled into one.
Maybe this was just a case of informed attractiveness or maybe Paolo just got lost in the parade of conventionally thin and beautiful people who were already on the show. Either way, I was glad when Paolo’s story arc finally ended and I didn’t have to pretend I thought he was as attractive as the gang did.
8. Ross was such a dick (Part 1)
Look, Ross. I get it: your wife, the woman you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with, turned out to be a lesbian and she decided to raise her baby with her new life partner/eventual wife instead of you. It’s an awkward, painful situation. But do you have to be dick about it? ‘Cause it kinda makes you look homophobic.
Ross couldn’t stop fixating on the fact that his wife was a lesbian to his friends, but when he was in public, he had a hard time admitting his wife’s sexuality to strangers, even though she had no problem with it. In “The One With Two Parts” (S1:E16), all three attended Lamaze class together and Ross tried to explain Susan as “Carol’s friend.” Carol clarified, saying that they were “life partners,” but Ross interrupted to claim that they were just very good friends.
Ross got slightly better after the birth of his son where he and Susan seemed to find some common ground, but that all went out the window in “The One With the Lesbian Wedding” (S2:E11) where he actually complained about Susan and Carol’s upcoming nuptials, saying, “They already live together, why do they need to get married?”
Shut up, Ross. You got married to a woman you barely knew for two months and then while drunk in Vegas. I think the two lesbians in a happy, committed relationship can have a wedding too.
7. Rachel was such a bitch to Julie
Speaking of jerks, Rachel almost gives Ross a run for his money with her treatment of Julie in Season 2. Julie, if you don’t remember, was Ross’s college girlfriend whom he reconnected with when he went to China for a business trip. Julie was sweet, nice, and overall a likable character. Except she had one major flaw: “she’s not Rachel.” Being in the way of the Ross/Rachel-ship we all wanted was the only problem with her that anyone on or off the show could every find.
Rachel, who just realized she was in love with Ross, never missed a chance to try to sabotage Julie or her perfect good relationship with Ross. She made snide comments about Julie under her breath all the time, tried to prevent Julie and Ross from having sex in “The One With Phoebe’s Husband” (S2:E4), and got mad at Monica for shopping at Bloomingdale’s with Julie. Even when Ross was insanely jealous of Paolo, he didn’t stoop to this underhanded kind of stuff.
Julie even sensed Rachel’s hatred and tried to extend an olive branch to her in “The One with the Breast Milk” (S2:E2). I thought things would get better between them after Rachel admitted that Julie made Ross happy, but then once Julie left the room, Rachel pouted.
Thankfully for Julie, she met the Ross knockoff Russ and presumably had a happy life with him where she didn’t have to pretend she didn’t hear Russ’s almost-girlfriend call her a bitch every five seconds, and probably never had to worry about whether she and Russ were on a break.
6. Ross was such a dick (Part 2)
You thought Ross being a dick was only going to be a season 1 thing? Buckle up, kids, and let’s go to season 3 where Rachel quit her waitressing job and got into her dream job of fashion merchandising. You’d think Ross would be happy that his girlfriend no longer screws up coffee orders for a living, but Ross couldn’t support Rachel’s dream because of the fact that a handsome, charming man named Mark helped Rachel get the job.
Ross was convinced that Mark was trying to sleep with Rachel, despite the fact that Mark had a girlfriend and Rachel wasn’t interested. Ross sent flowers, stuffed animals, oversized greeting cards, and a goddamned barbershop quartet to Rachel’s office just to remind her and Mark that she was in relationship.
It was Ross’s irrational jealousy that caused their relationship to implode, but eventually the two moved past that and dated other people, accidentally got married, had a kid, etc. Seven years later, when Rachel was fired from her job at Ralph Lauren and bumped into an old acquaintance who offered her a job opportunity at Louis Vuitton, Ross was happy and supportive of Rachel until he realized that old friend was Mark and promptly tried to stop her from taking the job.
Seven years later. Seven years later, when he and Rachel were no longer in a romantic relationship and he wasn’t even interested in a romantic relationship with her, Ross was still jealous of Mark and tried to sabotage Rachel’s career over it. What a dick.
5. They were on a break, but Ross still messed up
Ah, the controversial episodes “The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break” and “The One The Morning After” (S3:E15 and S3:E16). Were Ross and Rachel on a break? Did he really cheat on her? Should she have been so mad at him? What even is a break? This topic has been debated many times throughout the ages, but I believe I have the absolute final answer on the situation.
You see, “the break” was a break up so Ross did not cheat, no matter what Rachel claimed afterwards. She admitted to Monica that she and Ross “kinda broke up” in “The One The Morning After,” so she or any other characters can’t say that Ross sleeping with Chloe the Copy Girl was infidelity. Yeah, it was a little sketchy how quickly he hopped into bed with someone else, but it still technically wasn’t cheating. However, Ross did make the mistake of lying about it and trying to hide the other woman when Rachel came over to make up.
This is pretty ironic considering that the reason for their break up was that Ross was afraid Rachel was going to cheat on him with Mark.
Anyway, this whole mess could have been avoided if Rachel and Ross actually managed to define what a “break” was before they went their separate ways for the night–was it a break up or just downgrading their relationship to something less serious? Could they see other people or was this just a time to take a breather and reflect on the relationship? Well, we got seven seasons’ worth of cheap jokes out of this situation and those two crazy kids did end up together, so I guess it all works out.
4. The Rachel/Joey relationship was awkward
Amongst my group of friends, none of us never really bought into the Rachel/Joey ship. I could believe that Joey and Rachel had an unrequited crushes on each other, but when it came down to watching them kiss on screen and go on dates, it fell flat. It’s strange because on paper, Joey and Rachel do seem like an ideal couple. Someone even went through the trouble of listing all the reasons why: they’re compatible in terms of intelligence and temperament, they don’t have a complicated history like Rachel does with Ross, and they got along well as roommates. However, it was still just so weird to see them together, especially since at this point Rachel and Ross had a child together. Even if Joey and Rachel stayed together, how were they going to fit Ross in their relationship?
Maybe it was because we had already been watching the Ross/Rachel dynamic go on for eight years so it was strange to uproot that in favor of a new pairing. Maybe it was because Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc didn’t have the right chemistry together. Maybe it was because fans, the writers, and even the actors thought Joey was going to end up with Phoebe. I mean, those two flirted a lot more than Joey ever did with Rachel and allegedly Lisa Kudrow and Matt Le Blanc wanted their characters to get together.
Thankfully the subplot for their relationship was quickly wrapped up.
3. Ross was such a dick (Part 3)
In season 9, Ross and Rachel had their baby Emma, and in “The One With the Male Nanny” (S9:E6), they, well, got a male nanny. Sandy (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) was kind and sensitive so naturally Ross’s first question to him in the interview was, “Are you gay?” Ross just couldn’t comprehend that there are guys out there who are fine with taking traditionally feminine roles so he spent most of the episode making snarky comments and complaining about Sandy’s sensitivity. Eventually, he demanded that they fire Sandy because he was so uncomfortable with a male nanny. Let me repeat that: Ross wanted to fire his nanny simply because the nanny was a guy instead of a woman.
Lucky for Ross, Sandy was an absolute saint and was completely understanding of Ross’s discomfort and even got Ross to admit that the reason he was so uncomfortable was because of Ross’s upbringing. He even made Ross cry! I would have been happier if Ross was crying because Sandy beat him up so bad, but I will take this too.
2. David the Scientist Guy is probably the saddest character ever
David the Scientist Guy (Hank Azaria) was introduced in season 1 as a love interest for Phoebe. The two were passionately in love, and unfortunately, their romance ended when David was forced to choose between pursuing theoretical research in Minsk or his relationship. Ultimately, Phoebe encouraged him to go to Minsk even though it broke her heart in the process.
Then David came back for good in season 9 after his research turned out to be a massive failure, ruining his reputation and caused him to lose a toe to frostbite. But hey, at least he and Phoebe could get back together and resume their wonder, grand love affair, right? Oh wait, except she was still in love with her at-the-time ex-boyfriend Mike (Paul Rudd). Even though David sensed this, he decided to put a ring on it and propose to Phoebe in “The One in Barbados Part 1” (S9:E23).
Except then Mike interrupted their dinner to pop the question first.
So David watched the woman he had been in love with for seven years accept another man’s proposal, and to top it off, Phoebe admitted that if he had asked first, she probably would have said yes. David left Barbados, lonely and filled with regret. I just get so sad thinking about how terrible David’s fate turned out and I want justice for this sweet, awkward, lovable guy. If that Friends movie ever happens, I want just at least one throwaway line that mentions that David is now successful and happily married and maybe doing voiceover work on The Simpsons.
1. Ross was a (creepy) dick (Part 4)
Wow, Ross racked up some dickish behaviors in ten years, didn’t he? I mean, he’s not the only character who was a jerk but the thing that irks me is that Ross was supposed to be this neurotic and goofy but overall kindhearted “good guy,” and yet he pulled a lot of underhanded, manipulative stunts.
The most egregious offense was in season 10, when Rachel got a job offer in Paris and Ross didn’t want her to go. So what does he do? Talk to Rachel and tell her that he’s going to miss her and doesn’t want to lose custody of his daughter? Ask Rachel to see if she can get another job offer in New York? Nope, that’s too rational for Ross! Instead, he decides to secretly talk to Rachel’s boss at Ralph Lauren and convince the company to give Rachel her job back without her knowing. “Oh, and then we have see if she wants to come back,” he tells her former boss.
Thankfully, Ross gave up his manipulative efforts by the end of the episode and declared his love for Rachel like a normal person in the series finale. Lucky for him, Rachel never found out all the crap he pulled in an attempt to keep her in the country so the two could run off blissfully into the sunset.
Unless one of them declares another break.
So what about you? What annoying things did you notice in Friends?