When iconic TV couples come to mind, Ross and Rachel from Friends are typically one of the first that people think of. Despite the entertaining “will they or won’t they” relationship that they pulled off for ten seasons, Ross and Rachel are actually a terrible couple and should have never ended up together in the end.
First of all, from the very beginning of the series, Ross begins to pine after Rachel without even really knowing her. Yes, they have known each other since they were in high school, but people can change a lot during this time and frankly, Rachel was kind of rude to him in the flashback scenes. Ross projects the fantasy that he’s always had of Rachel onto her and expects her to realize that he’s in love with her without even saying anything. As Rachel said, he only had a year and they only hung out every night, so I guess there was never a time to say anything, right?
After Ross comes back from China, he (miraculously) finds a girlfriend and tries to move on from the idea that he and Rachel will ever be together. However, the minute he finds out that Rachel has feelings for him, he immediately jumps back on the Rachel train and leaves Julie, his new girlfriend, in the dust despite their compatibility. To make matters worse, Ross then creates a pros and cons list between the two of them to decide which one he wants to be with. I’m sorry, but if Ross really wanted to be with Rachel all along, then to him it should have been a no brainer who he wanted to choose. Then, even though she, rightfully so, was furious with Ross about the list, Rachel takes him back all because he almost took her to the prom when her date didn’t show up. Just because you did one nice thing ten years ago does not make up for the fact that you’re an asshole, Ross.
Ross and Rachel continue to prove the fact that they were never meant to be together as they progress into a committed relationship. In all honesty, they really don’t have a lot in common besides the fact that they have mutual friends and enjoy the physical nature of their relationship.
To me, it seems like Ross constantly looks down on Rachel because she is “just a waitress” and he has a fancy PhD. Even when Rachel begins making career moves and doing something that she’s actually passionate about, Ross can’t be supportive of her because he’s too worried that she’s going to fall in love with Mark, her new co-worker. Even Ross knew that a relationship between Rachel and Mark made more sense than a relationship between him and Rachel.
After weeks of showing possessive and toxic behaviour, Rachel finally decides to maybe (emphasis on maybe) take a break to see where their relationship should go from there. Ross then takes it upon himself to sleep with another woman despite being in love with Rachel since he was in high school. And while I don’t think that they were technically on a break, even if they were, why are you sleeping with someone else hours after your breakup occurred? And not even coming clean with the fact that you did, leaving Rachel to find out from someone else? Ross, what the actual hell.
From there, the two continue to have some sort of connection between them even though they’re not together anymore. They try to pursue their relationship again, but Rachel can’t get over the fact that Ross cheated on her. Every person is entitled to live their life the way that they want to, but if Rachel really wanted to move on from the past and be with Ross, she should have been more diligent in doing so and truly forgiven him. Rachel is thinking more about what their relationship used to be like and not taking it for its face value and looking at the fact that Ross deeply hurt her.
Within a year of breaking up, Ross is already engaged to another woman which, inevitably, ends in disaster. He never truly moves on from his feelings for Rachel and proves this when he says her name at the altar. Though this made for a great television scene, Ross continues to act on his impulses which got him into the mess that was his wedding with Emily. He only ever decides to marry Emily because she was the one that brought it up to him and it seemed like the best way to solve their long-distance relationship. Ross can’t make any decision for himself and doesn’t care about who he hurts in the process, continuing to act selfishly in the way that he treats the women he allegedly loves and cares about.
Following the embarrassment that was Ross and Emily’s wedding, we don’t really see much more from Ross and Rachel until they get married in Vegas. Again, Ross proves that he is a poor choice of a partner as he can’t even come forward with the truth that he and Rachel are actually still married even though he told her it was all taken care of. HELLO – this is extremely crucial information to just forgo, and anyone knows that trust and communication are the key to any successful relationship. So, Ross really just threw that out of the window.
I think it’s also important to note that Ross and Rachel are never really seen pursuing serious relationships with other people throughout the entire series. They both continue to cling on to the past and can just never let go of the fact that they have so much history between them. Just because you have a dramatic past with someone doesn’t mean that you’re destined to be with this person.
Throughout the rest of the series, Ross begins to date women like his students or the ex-girlfriends of Joey, and Rachel begins to date men like Ross’s student’s father and even Joey himself. It’s no wonder these two were never able to move on from one another – their lives were so intertwined and no matter which one of them started dating someone else, it always seemed like one of them was getting hurt by it. I don’t think either of them truly wanted to see the other move on and be happy with their lives and in the end, it only made sense for them to be together because there was nobody else around.
And finally, probably the scenario that aggravates me the most is the whole Rachel almost moving away to Paris fiasco. After only working in the fashion industry for seven years, Rachel gets the opportunity of a lifetime to work at Louis Vuitton in Paris. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Rachel worked her ass off to make the career moves that she did and really threw it all away to be with Ross, even though they didn’t even establish what the future between them would look like. And Ross doesn’t even realize that he wants to be with Rachel until the last possible moment and resorts to chasing her in the airport to tell her that he doesn’t want her to go. Again, Ross is acting on his impulsive behaviour and doesn’t even think through about whether or not he really wants to be with Rachel at the end of it all, given their past issues or how much this opportunity may mean to her. And I bet the whole “we were on a break” debate is still something that they would argue about to this day.
Now, I understand that the writers of Friends were probably just trying to create the story that they thought the audience wanted to see. Maybe it was the time during which the show was set or what the writers thought would create the best ratings, but I’d like to think that if Friends were set during the present day, the finale would have played out a lot differently. My ideal ending? Rachel would have said peace out to Ross and stayed put on that plane.