Who Should Rachel Have Ended Up With: Ross or Joey?
If you like this entry, feel free to check out my Kickstarter campaign for a board game I invented called Viticulture. If enough people pledge, I might be able to be convinced that Ross and Rachel are right for each other. 🙂
During yesterday’s sanction on avid commentors, I got more comments off the blog about Ross vs. Joey than on the blog! So I’ve decided to make it the topic of today’s post. For the sake of this argument, please suspend reality and assume that Friends is really, really important.
I’d also ask that you give Joey a chance. Sure, the show was written to emotionally drive us towards (spoiler alert!) the inevitable Ross and Rachel reunion, but does that make it right? Or were we falsely manipulated?
I would contend that we were. The writers of the show made us feel like Ross and Rachel should be together thanks to a string of dramatic moments, breakups and reunions. But really, let’s look at what’s behind those moments:
Ross pines for Rachel. Early on, Ross pines for Rachel a lot. Rachel is out of his league. So naturally, as viewers we root for the underdog. But just because someone pines for someone else doesn’t mean that they deserve them. That’s why stalkers are weird.
Rachel chooses Ross (early on) for no reason other than the fact that he likes her. There’s a beautiful moment on Friends when Rachel watches a video from high school prom night when Ross, on a moment’s notice, gets dressed to be Rachel’s date because hers has ditched her. The date shows up at the last minute, Rachel prances away, and Ross looks dejected. Back in real time, Rachel sees the gesture and kisses Ross. It’s awesome. But think about it–did Rachel develop feelings for Ross at that moment? Before that she never batted an eye at him. Suddenly she sees that he cares, and so she likes him. It’s human nature to like those who like us. But real relationships go way deeper than that.
Ross chooses Rachel for no other reason than she’s hot. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. Show me the qualities that Ross sees in Rachel. Ross, although a bit particular, is good at heart. He cares about the people around him. He sacrifices for them. He’s also extremely intelligent. Rachel, on the other hand, is extremely self-centered, selfish, and kind of a doof (that’s a new word meaning “dumb goof”). She grows up a bit, especially when she has the baby, but what does Ross see in Rachel? Why doesn’t he see beyond the hotness to her selfishness? Quite frankly, she doesn’t deserve him.
They’re never happy together. This is a biggie, and one that the show cleverly manuvers around. You see, as viewers we like drama. Until Jim and Pam came along, we didn’t know that we could be so happy watching a couple simply be…happy. There is not a single episode of Friends when Ross and Rachel are together that they are not fighting or lying to one another. And more often than not, they’re breaking up, trying to get back together, or admitting they have feelings but doing nothing about it yet. If Ross and Rachel are meant to be, shouldn’t they have sustained something real and wonderful for at least a few episodes?
I simply don’t see compelling evidence that Ross and Rachel were “meant to be.” Now for the second part of my argument: Why Rachel and Joey are a much better pair.
Their personalities are a much better fit. Using my word from above, they’re both kind of doofs. Rachel is a waitress for several seasons; Joey is a struggling actor. Rachel eventually (and somehow miraculously–what, exactly, are her qualifications) gets a grown-up job at Ralph Lauren, and Joey eventually becomes a marginally successful actor. They evolve. But at heart they’re still doofs, and we love them for it. Also, they are both quite confident sexually (at least we are told). Strictly in terms of who they are, they make a great couple.
Joey is good for Rachel; Rachel is good for Joey. At a certain point, Rachel has matured past Joey’s man-boy lifestyle, so she has something to teach Joey about love, relationships, and personal development. Joey, in turn, adds levity, humor, and compassion to Rachel’s sharp, selfish persona. They have real ways that they can grow with and challenge each other.
They are happy together. Rachel and Ross just fought all the time. Rachel and Joey actually get along! Why is this so overlooked?! Joey even proposes to Rachel at some point (or he gets ready to propose? I can’t remember) simply so she can have someone by her side to raise the baby.
Granted, I’ll contend that after writing about Ross and Rachel for 10 seasons, the writers had to let Ross and Rachel end up together. But I’m saying that they shouldn’t have spoonfed that love story when there was a much better one to be told. If Rachel and Joey were real people, they would unquestionably be the better fit.
What do you think? Obviously I’m open to your thoughts. And if you just want to cast a vote and walk away, please do so in the poll below.