Pick your favorite character from “Friends.” It is, without a doubt, one of five characters. Maybe it’s Rachel, the lovable shopaholic, or Phoebe, who brought the world together by bringing us “Smelly Cat.” If you’re an OCD freak like me, you love Monica. Or maybe your favorite character is one of the guys — either goofball Chandler or the well-intentioned class clown Joey are acceptable picks for favorite Friend. The one character that no one in their right mind would pick as a favorite though is Ross.
There’s only one way to describe Ross: annoying. He won’t shut up about his dinosaurs, he spends ten seasons pining after Rachel who is so clearly out of his league, and his hair holds the grease of 10,000 orders of McDonald’s french fries. In short, Ross is the worst, and we all know it. One writer from the Dallas News picked up on this and claims that our universal hatred of Ross has caused the downfall of Western civilization.
You can read the entire take-down here, but the argument is that out of all of the “Friends” characters, Ross is the one we should have all rallied behind. He’s intelligent, he has real interests, he has a career he loves, and he’s who we should all strive to be. He’s the only character that’s not in it for slapstick humor, and by all accounts, he should be the show’s hero. However, this isn’t the case. After ten years of berating Ross, wearing him down, and driving him insane, the writing of “Friends” has destroyed all of the values that we need to have as a society, and instead, made us all think that we should be funny shopaholics without career ambitions and make our own intelligent friends the brunt of all of our jokes.
David Hopkins, the writer behind this blasphemy, advocates for nerds everywhere, urging readers to pick up a book, stop blowing our money on name-brand clothes, and raise up the smart people, instead of putting them down. David, I have just one thing to say to you: we don’t hate Ross because he’s smart. We hate Ross because his personality is garbage.
“Friends” isn’t a show about intellectual capacity. For that, we all tune into “The Big Bang Theory.” “Friends” is a show about social interactions, and for someone whose social skills are so horribly stunted, of course Ross lingers on the outside of the core group of “Friends.” The social “Friends” succeed at their friendships while Ross goes home to play with his dinosaurs and pines after the girl who should never have gotten off the plane.
Ross is oftentimes antagonistic and demeaning, which in a show called “Friends” and not “Intellectuals,” is less than welcome. He sets himself above all of the other Friends, believing himself to be their intellectual superior, which may not really be the case. Chandler (while I still don’t actually know what he does) excels in his career, and eventually makes the decision to follow his passion. We see Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, and Joey all start at the bottom of their career ladders and slowly, over time, acquire skills and fight their way to the top. Rachel goes from a coffee shop waitress to holding her dream job in fashion at Ralph Lauren, while Monica goes from wearing fake boobs as part of her diner uniform to being a head chef, all of which are amazing career accomplishments which should definitely be celebrated.
While all of the other “Friends” progress in their careers, in friendship, and in love, Ross stays stagnant. This is ultimately one of the biggest problems with Ross and why he doesn’t quite fit into the narrative of the show. “Friends” exists as a story about life, appealing to twenty-somethings everywhere. Many of the millions of viewers of this show weren’t people who hold PhDs and are complacent in their careers. They were (and still are) twenty-somethings that are just struggling to get by and still have all of their hopes, dreams, and career ambitions ahead of them, not behind. “Friends” was ultimately so successful because the characters made us feel like we weren’t alone, and that we weren’t the only ones struggling. Where was Ross’s dilemma in the series? Without giving him struggles and things to hope for, Ross was made a character who we ultimately couldn’t relate to as viewers.
At the end of the day, Ross wasn’t slighted because of his intelligence; he was slighted because we couldn’t connect with his character. This may be partly the fault of the writers for not giving Ross as much conflict as the other characters, but Ross didn’t single-handedly cause the downfall of society. With more women entering the workforce and America recovering from the Great Recession, I would argue that America is just as focused on their careers as ever before. However, no matter what the focus of our life is, what we can all agree on is that we need to lean on our friends in order to make it. While there’s a time and a place for the friends that have it all together, the friends that are just as messed up and confused as us are the ones that we really need in order to make it through life. There’s a place in all of our lives and our hearts for a Ross, but he won’t be the one to hold our hair back while we throw up a pitcher of margaritas or understand when we get fired yet again. The friends that are flawed, that are imperfect, that are broken — those are the friendships that are the most beautiful and integral to our lives, and the ones that I’m glad “Friends” decided to show..
[via Dallas News]
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