Vanity Fair has a great collection of videos where professionals analyze pop culture whether its crime scene tech analyzing Dexter or a former CIA agent talking about spy movies. One of their latest videos are relationship therapists Laura Heck and Zach Brittle break down Ross and Rachel’s relationship on Friends.
In the broad strokes of their behavior, the therapists are correct, but you also get the sense that these therapists are only watching through the lens of a handful of particular episodes that allow them to give Ross far more credit than he’s due.
If you’ve seen Friends as much as I have (read: too many times), you know that Ross is kind of the show’s villain. He’s positioned at a sweet guy, but as you peel back the layers you see that he’s a toxic human being. He’s jealous, he’s possessive, and he’s even abusive. The problem with this video is it skips right over “The One Where No One’s Ready” where Ross verbally abuses Rachel for trying to find the right outfit, and the way he “wins” her back is he’s willing to drink some fat as an act of contrition. But Ross never really matures, and the show is at its best when it just makes Ross an utter buffoon like with his leather pants, whitening his teeth, or his spray tan.
But to make him a romantic interest fails, and to treat him like an equal partner to Rachel misses all the times he’s been a toxic person who has harmed other people and acted irresponsibly and even unethically (like when he dated a student).
To the credit of the therapists, they’re trying to connect this to how real people behave and what they would advise in similar circumstances, but if you look at the totality of Friends, Ross is ultimately indefensible (we haven’t even talked about his revulsion at the thought of a male nanny because it’s not “masculine”), and he’s a garbage person who should die alone. Take that, fictional character.
Check out the video and see if you agree: