Maybe it’s because I’ve taken a bit too long since the last episode (Rachel is only just starting her job), but I found the “Friends™ rhythm” a little hard to get back into.
EVERYTHING is a joke. ALL reactions are exaggerated. There ARE unnatural gaps for laughter.
It doesn’t seem quite as real as it has done. Monica is getting off with a Hispanic poet from the Diner, who is a ridiculous character, and Joey is auditioning for a musical even though he can’t dance.
Perhaps it’s my own mind protecting itself? Fighting against the array of Friends™ coincidences that have assailed me in the last few years. And that’s not just Joey singing a song from Oliver!™ (which my fiancé has just put on).
“The One Where I Can’t Remember The Friend That Kissed My Sister”
One of the joys of living with my parents again has been reconnecting with my little sister.
I went downstairs to put my shoes on before work, only to find her sitting up with a man. I didn’t know if they’d only just got up or been up all night, but thought nothing of it (I’m not one to judge) until my sister said:
“Do you not remember Chandler?”
I was aghast to realise it was an older, slightly chubbier, version of my old friend Chandler, who I hadn’t seen for several years. OK, I’ll admit I’ve changed the name here for legal reasons. If he was actually called Chandler I think I would have to throw in the towel on Real Live Friends altogether.
Late for work I had no choice but to exchange quick pleasantries then awkwardly dash out the door.
When I returned later in the day it was confirmed, my Real Live Friend is now dating my sister. Just ONE episode after Chandler kissed Joey’s sister. Help me, I’m scared…
Why couldn’t I have a NICE irrational fear like Rachel being scared of Turtles?
Instead I get crazy fears like worrying that Friends™ has started dictating my life, or that I’ll go skydiving and half way through realise I’m accidentally falling up forever.
Turtles scare Rachel. But, maybe, Ross should scare Rachel?
His fear of Mark cuckolding him has jumped up a notch so he sends Rachel a load of over the top romantic gestures. She, rightly, calls him out on it. He’s got nothing to worry about! They’ve been steady for almost a year! And, in any case, Mark has started dating someone else in the office. (Even if, for some reason, she’s wearing the same outfit as Rachel…)
This is the first time we’ve seen Ross act proper crazy, but it’s easy at this point to explain away his behaviour as a mix of comic exaggeration and justified trust issues. When he aggressively barges in on Mark kissing his office squeeze his craziness is played for laughs, and to ramp up the tension with Rachel. But if you take what he actually hears from the hall isn’t it fair to assume Mark was kissing Rachel?
I don’t want be a sort of “Ross apologist”; his character has been criticised a lot recently as “problematic”, along with the shows homophobia, and lack of ethnic diversity (both of which I’ve mentioned previously). Although it was a long time ago I have SEEN the show before and do remember how nuts he gets regarding Rachel. But I’m in a unique position here to track his behaviour and to examine in detail where (or whether) it becomes problematic.
For now, his trust issues are pretty understandable, especially with his actions being spurred on by the poor advice of the other male characters. And, hey, at least he’s not Gunther? That’s a thought… maybe part of Gunthers function within the show is to make Ross look more reasonable? As I said last time, the show wouldn’t work at all without the central characters remaining likeable.
I think Friends™ is at its best when highlighting the flaws of the central characters. At its heart it’s a show about making mistakes and learning from them. After all, is that not what being in your twenties is about? Whether the way Ross behaves is problematic or not, when he’s acting like a jealous fool the show is not vindicating his behaviour.
We are invited to laugh at him and through that see his folly.
Real Live Sitcom Moment:
My Real Live Friend has just had his appendix out and that came with a healthy dose of sedatives.
Mirroring my own fear of becoming stuck in Friends™, he described to me a hallucination during the operation where he became convinced he existed in a videogame he’s making based on the reality TV show the Crystal Maze™.
Thanks to the copious amount of anaesthetic in his system this lasted for quite some time after he awoke, which resulted in him refusing to let go of the nurses hand whilst repeatedly asking him where Richard O’Brien and Richard Ayoade were.