Thanksgiving is a time to take stock of our lives, and give thanks for what we have, so why is Vice Media trying to reopen old wounds by stirring up divisions in the Ross and Rachel “We were on a break” argument by declaring that they solved the issue once and for all— “Were They on a Break? We Settled the Biggest Plot Controversies of ‘Friends’”
There is so much wrong with their methodology, but Vice basically went to a Friends pop-up bar in Chicago and asked a bunch of (ok, 22, if we’re being exact) 20-somethings questions about Friends and passed it off as finally solving the dilemma. Am I making assumptions here based on the photographs of the respondents in the article? Sure…but am I wrong? No.
I know Friends has lived on in re-runs, and now streaming basically constantly since it went off the air 14 years ago, but with all due respect to anyone under the age of 34, you most likely did not watch the show in real-time as it aired. Why does this matter? Well, normally it wouldn’t but Vice has tried to definitively answer the “On a break” question by asking people whose understanding of social mores and dating are not based on a contemporary reading of the situation—in short, they’re putting their 21st century opinion on a 20th century problem. That doesn’t fly!
For those of you who aren’t intimately familiar with what I’m talking about, here’s a clip:
So this is the situation in a nutshell. It’s early 1997—cell phones aren’t a thing, neither is texting. All the majority of us have are landlines and answering machines. This is a relationship that is a year old—so, clearly committed. Ross refuses to accept that Rachel has to work at her job, so he shows up unannounced and surprises/embarrasses her in front of her co-workers. She is not appreciative of his efforts (why would she be?), and later they fight. In the heat of the moment, Rachel says “maybe we should take a break,” talking about putting a pause on their relationship, and Ross storms out before they can talk about it. She cools off. He cools off, and calls her later, but hears her male co-worker in the background at her apartment, and hangs up on her before she can explain. Then he sleeps with another woman, because “we were on a break.”
There are two camps here, but only one is correct—Rachel’s. This is not the conclusion Vice had, so you can add this to the long list of things they are wrong about.
Had Ross not stormed out, or hung up, he might have a leg to stand on here, but grown-up relationships don’t make decisions based on something said in the heat of the moment with no follow-up conversations.
Should Rachel have said what she said? Of course not, but nobody’s perfect and the fact of the matter is—she was the one who got embarrassed at work, and was the one open to conversations. Ross stormed out. Twice.
If he had wanted to keep the relationship, he needed to keep it in his pants for one damn night, until he could talk to Rachel calmly. He didn’t, and he slept with another woman to basically punish Rachel for having a career and friends he didn’t like who were outside of their cliquey circle.
So were they on a break? No.
Is Vice wrong? Yes.
Does Ross suck? Yes…and I’m sure that’s something we can all agree on.