I realise this is about a decade late, but I think it should be fairly clear to everyone that Ross and Rachel were on a break.
So first there’s the Fight. Rachel says ‘We should take a break from us.’ Actually I’m paraphrasing. Here’s how it goes:
Ugh maybe we should just take a break.
Fine, let’s take a break, let’s cool off, let’s go get some frozen yogurt.
No. I mean a break from us.
Following this conversation, Ross goes out with Joey and Chandler and says that he and Rachel have broken up. Again, here’s the exchange:
What are you doing here? I thought tonight was your big aniversary dinner.
Yeah, slight change of plans. We’re going to break up instead.
Then there’s The Morning After. Rachel comes out of her bedroom and tells Monica that Ross and she (Rachel) broke up the previous evening. This is what they actually say:
How did the big dinner go last night?
We kind of never made it to dinner.
No, we kind of broke up instead.
Now that’s pretty clear. Rachel thinks at this point that she is not Ross’s girlfriend.
This viewpoint is reinforced by the voice message she leaves on Ross’s answering machine when she says ‘I don’t want to get back together over a machine’ and then again in a conversation with Ross himself a couple of hours later where she asks if she can be his girlfriend again. The exact line is: ‘So what do you say; can I be your girlfriend again?’
‘Again.’ Clearly for a time she agreed that their relationship was dissolved and she was requesting permission to reconstitute it. Like juice.
That metaphor got away from me there.
So even though all this happened, when Ross had a one-night stand in the interceding few hours, that was cheating.
Sure, going out and banging the first person who’s willing isn’t the best reaction to relationship breakdown. And sure, it is still an issue needing some resolution, but Rachel’s unwillingness to resolve it speaks more to her lack of investment in the relationship than to Ross’s wrongdoing within its framework.
Notwithstanding all this, somehow the program’s writers or producers or both allowed the Rachel character to gain the moral high ground for the next eight and a half seasons. Apparently all men are bastards and all women are wronged by them.
It’s all just a bit lame really.
But not surprising. Sexist messages are rife on Friends. Homophobia is also endemic. A lot of the ideas it puts forward about romantic relationships are decidedly unhelpful.
Somehow it is still one of my favourite shows.
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