I know that the popular thing now is to hate Ross Geller. And I get it: he’s whiny, possessive, insensitive, and every single one of the negative attributes that have tacked onto him like he’s a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-jackass. But honestly? That’s not the reason he’s my least favorite character on Friends.
Now, it’s no surprise that, as the show went on, the Six – and, even though I don’t necessarily want to admit it, also somewhat includes Phoebe – went from being somewhat relatable (I use this term loosely) to insane, one-dimensional caricatures that were known simply by catchphrases instead of, you know, personalities. That’s what happens when writers don’t really allow their characters to grow; you can only do so many episodes before you start to lose story ideas and resort to mining the dregs.
Ross got the worst of it, though. Even though I hated his decision-making during Season Three’s breakup with Rachel, I at least could understand where he was coming from, being a recent (almost two years) divorcee myself. His marriage to Carol had dissolved a very short time prior to him beginning to date Rachel, and he had never really addressed his feelings of inadequacy. He didn’t really have the time to process it; he was thrust into parenthood alongside Carol and Susan, the woman Carol left him for. So to see a threat to his lifelong dream of a relationship with Rachel, I totally get him being very paranoid about it and then retaliating when he thought she was cheating on him with Mark. And I was amazed that there were consequences to his actions. I 100% appreciated the writers’ willingness to be like, “Hey, guess what? This may be a sitcom, but Ja Boy done just fucked up, and he’s gonna have to deal with it.”
While it did ease a bit with Emily during Season Four, when we got to the middle of Season Five? Yeah, that’s when things really start to go downhill with Ross’ character. It just kept worsening, and the same bravery that the writers showed in Season Three was completely gone: where are the ramifications to him acting like a dick? He keeps his friends, manages to get a better job than he had before and somehow doesn’t get fired for banging one of his much younger students, gets Rachel pregnant, dates the wonderful Mona, and then ends up with Rachel in the end anyway? Like … no. No. I already have to deal with people like Trump winning the presidency and getting away with things that would literally cause anyone else to be exiled, so when I watch a show, I don’t want to see the shit person win. I also don’t wanna see an actually good person and character get ruined by lazy writing, but that’s what we got with Ross.