It’s been almost 13 years since Rachel Green got off the plane and declared her love for Ross Geller in the final ever episode of Friends. And it’s safe to say that it was a very big moment for fans of the hit TV show: after all, the “will they won’t they” storyline of Ross and Rachel had always been the show’s biggest love story.
But, to the satisfaction of many a frustrated fan, one Twitter user has pointed out that Rachel and Joey could – and importantly, should – have been the happy ending of our feminist Friends dreams.
Want to know why?
Let’s recap on the Ross-Rachel thing. Way back in the very first season, we learn that Ross (David Schwimmer) is in love with Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). Or, to put it more accurately, that he’s secretly been lusting after his little sister’s best friend for years and never done anything about it. You might say that he’s more than a little bit obsessed, actually.
When she introduces him to a boyfriend, Paolo, Ross makes a point of mocking his Italian rival’s accent/hair/fashion sense – and purposefully forgets his name on more than one occasion. When the possibility of an actual relationship with Rachel presents itself, the paleontologist later makes an ill-advised list of her flaws (including her being a waitress and not a fellow scientist) to decide if she’s a worthy girlfriend or not.
When they eventually do get together, Ross proves to be a horrible, horrible boyfriend. Think about it: he bullies and berates Rachel over her burgeoning career and gets overwhelmingly jealous about her platonic friendship with a male colleague – to the point where she feels so unbelievably stifled that she needs to take a break from their relationship. Ross, just hours later, sleeps with “the hot girl from the copy place” and attempts to hide his one-night stand from Rachel the next morning.
She finds out, however, putting an end to their relationship forever.
Instead, Ross continues to actively pursue Rachel – even saying her name at the altar during his wedding to someone else. He hides messages from men who call her when they’re living together. He’s endlessly threatened by the men she dates. He sabotages her career. And when Rachel drunkenly marries him in Las Vegas, he refuses to file for divorce and attempts to hide their marital status from her.
Rachel becomes pregnant after a one-night stand with her obsessive ex – and it’s at this point that another of her close male friends, Joey (Matt le Blanc) realises that he has feelings for “my pregnant friend”. He is heartbroken when she tells him that she does not feel the same, but happily resumes their friendship without pressuring her to change her mind.
Later, though, Rachel does change her mind. She wants to be with Joey, and tells him so – but their relationship is brief and ill-fated. Partly because Ross refuses to accept it, obviously, but mostly because fans weren’t shipping Rachel and Joey one bit.
And Twitter user @kaneandgriffin says Joey should have been The One. With very good reason.
Writing to defend Joey and Rachel’s relationship from the naysayers, @kaneandgriffin’s thread expertly points out that their relationship was healthy, happy and meant to be. Joey sees her as a real person, with her own heart and mind. He values her friendship above all else – and knows that he doesn't “deserve” anything beyond that, no matter what his feelings for her may be.
On the other hand, Ross is a possessive and manipulative creep, intent on holding Rachel back and preventing her from achieving her full potential. He’s the self-titled “Nice Guy” who sees Rachel as the reward for his good behaviour – and he genuinely believes that she owes him a relationship solely because he was attracted to her.
“Ross never saw Rachel as a friend, but Joey did,” begins @kaneandgriffin.
“From the moment the Friends first meet Rachel, Ross immediately sees her as a romantic prospect. He's never gotten over his crush on her. But Joey's relationship with Rachel is platonic almost right away. They have a genuine friendship.
“He frequently gives her dating advice. (Sometimes questionable AF, but, you know. Well-intentioned.) He sets her up on dates with men he thinks she'll like. He lets her crash the set when he's filming and flirt with soap actors… [and] he makes her laugh.”
14/ Joey has a lot of problems but his supportive, protective relationship with the women friends is one of his best qualities.— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
15/ He genuinely loves them and wants them all to be happy and there's no jealousy in it at all.— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
@kaneandgriffin goes on to point out that it’s Joey, out of all the characters, who reminds Ross that he doesn’t own Rachel.
24/ Joey is the person who most often tells Ross "dude she's not interested" when she's clearly not. The one who notices what RACHEL wants.— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
More importantly, though, Joey’s feelings for Rachel stem from real friendship, not a teen fantasy of ‘winning’ the girl.
27/ Joey's feelings for Rachel were born out of genuine friendship. They were roommates. SHE WAS PREGNANT.— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
28/ We honestly don't talk enough about how big a deal it is that Joey, the "shallow" one, falls in love with Rachel while she's pregnant.— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
29/ It happens the way realistically healthy relationships do: they just start spending a lot more time together.— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
30/ He has to LEARN to see Rachel as a romantic prospect because she's always been a friend first. Which was NEVER true for Ross.— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
31/ It's not until he takes her on a fake date (because she's pregnant and misses going on fancy dates) when it actually clicks.— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
32/ And when he tells Rachel how he feels and she turns him down, contrast that with "WE WERE ON A BREAK"— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
33/ He never blames her and he doesn't let it impact the rest of the group. The friendship stays intact. ROSS GELLER WHAT'S GOOD— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
It’s a lengthy thread, but a compelling argument we are well on board with; Rachel deserved to end up with someone who recognised why her career was so important to her (someone like, say, Joey, who helped her to get her first big fashion industry break). She shouldn’t have got off the plane that was whisking her away to her dream job in Paris. In fact, she shouldn’t have seen Ross’ attempts to make her stay in the USA as romantic at all.
58/ AM I SUPPOSED TO THINK IT'S ROMANTIC THAT ROSS WENT BEHIND RACHEL'S BACK TO HER BOSS TO MAKE HIM TAKE HER BACK BECAUSE I FUCKING DON'T— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
59/ AM I SUPPOSED TO THINK IT'S A SIGN OF LOVE THAT HE ONLY WANTS A RACHEL WHO IS ECONOMICALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY SUBORDINATE TO HIM— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
60/ HARD FUCKING PASS, TYVM, SHE SHOULD HAVE GONE TO PARIS AND TAKEN SEVERAL LOVERS AND REALIZED THAT SHE OUTGREW ROSS DECADES AGO— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
As if this weren’t compelling enough, @kaneandgriffin goes on to prove that Joey and Rachel actively make each other better people.
73/ Charlie is nothing like any other woman Joey has ever dated. Falling for Rachel literally teaches Joey that he wants something more.— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
74/ Joey learns to love having a baby around, stops being a bad-date punchline and tries to be worthy of a way higher-class lady.— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
75/ And he's good for Rachel, too. Circa-Joey's-roommate Rachel is my favorite iteration of all the Rachels.— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
76/ SERIOUSLY THINK ABOUT HOW GREAT SHE IS. Short hair, playing the drums, eating spaghetti off the floor, watching "Cujo." What an angel.— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
77/ Rachel has been uptight all her life and Joey teaches her how to chill the fuck out. He brings out a sillier side of her.— Skaiplana (@kaneandgriffin) August 8, 2017
When Rachel and Joey butt heads, they resolve things calmly and respectfully through kind and gentle conversation. He treats her like an equal. He never patronises her. And he never makes her feel intellectually inferior – something which Ross does repeatedly.
Case in point?
The evidence is damning: despite his claim that his dismissing of her job was just about having things in common, it’s clear Ross sees Rachel as “just a waitress” for the entirety of Friends.
“Crucially, this is NOT because Rachel isn't smart,” points out @kaneandgriffin. “It's because ROSS doesn't think she's smart. No matter how high she advances.”
The Twitter user finishes firmly: “The bottom line is, the Rachel that Ross fell in love with was a teenage fantasy he never outgrew… [but] Joey fell in love with a bright, funny, competent single mother he'd been friends with for seven years and knew inside-out already.”
The writers could have ditched genre stereotypes and had Rachel tell Ross, in no uncertain terms, that he’s a toxic influence on her life and she is so over him. Then she could have moved to Paris and pursued her dreams – either with or without Joey (aka the man intent on helping her to shine as brightly as she possibly can).
It would have been the feminist story we all – especially Aniston’s character – deserved.
Still not convinced? Read the entirety of @kaneandgriffin’s epic argument here. Just be sure to make a cup of tea first – this thread is over 70 tweets long.