I’ve been rewatching a little Friends recently.
Well, by “a little,” I mean I started watched a random episode early in Season 3 and am now more than halfway through Season 8. It is, for all intents and purposes, a fun and comfortable show to watch: unchallenging, with generally likeable characters, funny misadventures, and lots of hugs and friendship.
But I cannot stand Ross Geller.
Ross is a nice guy. And not in a genuinely nice way. In a creepy, possessive, get-out-of-my-life way. His on-again, off-again relationship with Rachel is uncomfortable to watch. His behavior is unacceptable, yet we are either meant to laugh at his ridiculousness or even root for the couple to get back together. No thanks.
Here’s a look at just a few things that make Ross somewhat less than loveable.
Always pining, never acting
In the very first episode, Ross comments to Rachel that he had a crush on her in highschool. Despite the fact that they have nothing in common (except Monica, I suppose), he says that he might ask her out, and she agrees. And then he never does. He pines, and he watches, and he waits, and he does nothing. As soon as he finds out that she likes him, he’s ready to ditch his replacement-Rachel girlfriend, but he never bothers to find that out himself, or make it clear that he likes her. Sitcom-esque, certainly, but not a good start.
We were on a break
Regardless of how he spins it, Ross is a cheater. He was apparently in love with Rachel, but he slept with the copy girl within hours of them having a fight (which was arguably his own fault, due to his jealousy). Rachel never did anything that should make him jealous, but Ross leapt on the chance to cheat as soon as he got the chance. Throughout the next 7 and a half years, he never once admits that what he did might have been wrong or hurtful to Rachel. He does not apologize for what he did. And he does it at other times too. He kisses Rachel while dating Julie. He again kisses Rachel while dating Bonnie. We’re supposed to see it as romantic, because he cares about Rachel so much, but he goes throughout the whole show without ever feeling any remorse or even being called out by anyone but Rachel on his behavior.
He is jealous and possessive
The entire “we were on a break” fight happened because Rachel was finally getting her career on track. She scores a dream job, and she is dedicated to making it a success. She works late, and certainly does not approve of her boyfriend appearing in the office and not only making her look unprofessional but setting her desk on fire. In return, Ross becomes convinced that she is falling for her good looking coworker, and is unable to accept Rachel’s career ambitions or be happy about her newfound success.
And this controlling nature is found in other areas of his life. When Rachel is pregnant, he insists that as his baby goes anywhere she goes, he should have a say in her life. That she should not date, because she’s carrying his baby. He freaks out when he finds out about Monica and Chandler, because she’s his sister. He never trusts anyone or lets them figure out their own lives. And he never apologizes for his behavior or even considers it a mistake.
He always assumes Rachel wants to get back together
Any time Rachel wants to talk to him privately, he assumes that she wants to get back together. Usually, he decides he does not want a relationship, but he is willing to concede and give her one night of sex. I can’t think of a single time when he’s thought this and Rachel has actually wanted to get back together.
At the beginning of Season 6, Ross and Rachel get married in Vegas. They immediately regret it and decide to annul it. And then Ross does not do it. He secretly stays married to Rachel because he “doesn’t want three divorces.” Rachel’s feelings are not taken to account. She doesn’t get a choice. By lying to her, he basically forces her to stay married to him… his end goal remains unclear, except for sitcom humor perhaps. It’s ridiculous, and it’s more than a little bit creepy.
He doesn’t understand what “appropriate” means
He dates a student. One of his own students. He then gets so jealous of the idea of her going on Spring Break, like a normal student, that he decides he has to tag along with her. He repeatedly lies to Mona while she’s dating him, because being honest is apparently irrelevant. He then breaks into her house after they’ve broken up to retrieve a lost shirt, and hides behind the couch when she returns.
And among all this, my biggest problem with Ross is that he is incapable of acknowledging, or even of recognizing, that he’s in the wrong or has behaved poorly. Throughout the entire show, he is convinced that he is the good guy, the underappreciated one, the one who deserves happiness to be given to him in the end.
So when Rachel finally abandons her big career break in Paris and gets off the plane to be with him? I’m not exactly cheering.