So, awhile ago, it was announced that the entire series of the popular TV show, Friends, was coming to Netflix. I was, needless to say, stoked. I’d not gotten into the series until I was in high school – when it was already in its last couple seasons. So I hadn’t actually seen a lot of the earlier seasons. I’ve been rewatching the series from the beginning, experiencing some storylines for the first time.
And in that time (I’m on season 9), I’ve come to one undeniable conclusion: Ross Geller is one of the worst fictional characters to exist on television. He may only be rivaled by Ted Mosby in the scale of horribleness.
How horrible is Ross Geller? Let me count the ways.
1. He Nice Guys all over Rachel and gets upset with her for being a human being.
In the first season, he spends his time pining over Rachel, annoying the others by talking about how much he likes her, and crapping all over the men she dates. He’s never truly honest with her about his feelings and instead judges her for her choices that have nothing to do with him.
2. WE WERE ON A BREAK.
During the famous and continually referenced “we were on a break!” moments, Ross uses another women to comfort his own lonely feelings and blames Rachel for making him feel that way, even though he could have easily chosen to be a responsible human being and respect the women he’s around.
3. He acts like his ex-wife’s lesbianism is something she did to spite him.
Carol, Ross’ first wife, gets really short shrift throughout the entire arc of the series. It’s okay for him to be hurt that she cheated on him and that they divorced. None of that is a problem. But he continues to act like her realization of her sexuality was a referendum on his manliness, which it is not.
4. He’s a horrible father to Ben (his first born, with Carol) and seems to totally forget about him once he has a daughter with Rachel.
Negotiations and labor laws around child acting aside, Ross almost never mentions Ben except when it’s a chance for him to take offense at someone’s slight toward his fatherhood. And in episodes that do feature Ben, he spends his time trying to make sure Ben is a Manly Man. In one storyline, for example, Ross seems mortally wounded at the thought of his son carrying around a Barbie doll.
5. He’s ridiculously jealous and acts like women owe him for deigning to be in their presence.
Every single relationship Ross has – every date, every approach to a woman somewhere, anything – is about what it can do for him. He needs to move on from Rachel, so he just goes, “oh, you’ll do” to pretty much any woman he meets. It’s pathetic.
6. He’s whiny. So whiny.
Shut up already, Ross Geller.
7. He consistently reminds his sister of how fat (and therefore undesirable) she used to be.
The show has a problem with the ongoing “Monica used to be fat!” jokes anyway, but Ross is by far the worst perpetrator of them. He jokes about how she’d threaten to sit on him, about how of course she never had a date because FAT. Any time he wants to win an argument, he brings up her weight.
8. He refuses to grant Rachel an annulment on their drunken Vegas marriage because he thinks he can trick her into being with him.
Ross and Rachel get drunk and get married in Las Vegas at the end of one season. And throughout the beginning of the next season of the show, Ross tells Rachel he got the marriage annulled without actually taking action to do so, because he thinks if they just stay married, she’ll realize how much she loves him and they’ll just … be okay.
9. Chandler and Monica didn’t want to tell him about their relationship because they were afraid he’d freak out – and they were right.
This alone should be a bright red flag – if you’re afraid to tell someone about something that makes you happy because you think they’ll freak out all over it and make you feel bad … Well, you’ve got a pretty terrible friend in your life.
10. He takes a woman’s body merely existing as an invitation to have sex with her.
This is BY FAR THE WORST. In one episode, Monica is out of town and Rachel has the apartment to herself. So Rachel decides to walk around naked and forgets to close the curtains. Ross sees her from his apartment across the street and literally thinks to himself, “She must want me to come up there and have sex with her! She knows I can see her!”
You know who thinks women being naked is an invitation to have sex with them? CREEPY PEOPLE THAT’S WHO.
I don’t write this merely to make fun of Ross Gellar and point out his flaws, but to demonstrate how easily misogynistic ideas get embedded into our popular culture. For all the popularity of Friends, it promoted some pretty awful ideas about gender, often without any critique. We need to be aware of these things and able to call them out when we see them.