Ross Geller, he’s one of the most hilarious and loveable characters on Friends, yet also manages to be the most irritating and problematic. This of course means he falls right into the problematic fave category. For all his greatness, fundamentally he is a typical “nice guy” and shows all the traits that come with that including, feeling hard done by when rejected and blaming women for his rejection, having questionable ideas on gender roles and feeling as though women owe him something. In the episode “The One With the Male Nanny” he showed disbelief that a man could be a babysitter by implying that it is a woman’s job and responds to Rachel’s disdain with “that’s like a woman being a….” thankfully he gives up on this statement, but it’s apparent he believes women cannot do certain occupations – as well as this he makes snarky comments and jokes about the characters masculinity, perpetuating the idea that if a man does a seemingly “female” job it degrades him. Rachel’s response to this summed up mine and I’m sure many other women’s thoughts towards this old fashioned ideal. Sadly, this is not the only time in the show where he has come out with out-of-date and sexist views, during the episode where he debates whether or not to ask Rachel out, he decides that he is more entitled to her than Paolo because he’s her friend (yep, that old gem), his apparent “claim” on Rachel is one of the most inherently sexist things that occurred in the show because it implies that she is an object that can be owned in a way. I mean heaven forbid she date a man that she actually wishes to, rather had go out with Ross because he believes they should and they have a history.
Throughout the shows run there are episodes where he comes out with some right corkers, for example in “The One with Unagi” he accuses Rachel and Phoebe of not being aware of their surroundings because they are too wrapped up in what’s going on inside their heads, so therefore cannot defend themselves; an idea about women I liked to presume died out in the 1950s, but clearly is still alive and kicking. Even when he says these things though it is hard to well and truly hate him – especially as later on in the episode he gets “attacked” by the other two characters and brought down a peg or two, much to my amusement. My lack of dislike towards him proves him to be more than a strong contender for the being the king of my problematic fave’s – as I am pretty easily annoyed and turned off by characters when watching TV.
The reason I think, as to why it is just so hard to hate on him is rooted in his characteristics, as I feel, at the heart of it all he cares deeply for the other characters and throughout the show is shown to the audience to be a genuinely good person, for example when he comes to save the gang after Phoebe’s taxi ran out of fuel, even though him and Rachel could barely look at each other. Thus making him a good yet ignorant human being.
It is important to bear in mind though that the show itself brought the term “friend zone” into popular culture (something I like to pretend didn’t happen) and making it a mainstream ideal in society – so clearly there was an element of underlying sexism within the show as a whole, it just so happens to be reflected the most through his character. Therefore, on a bass line level and as much as it pains me to acknowledge it – Friends is quite a problematic show as a whole. The distinct lack of POC characters featured on it, with the exception of the character Charlie (the ones that are, are kept in small menial roles like a shop assistant that is seen for a fleeting moment), is a big issue and something I like to believe that if the show was made now would not exist. Fundamentally there is no way a group of young adults living in New York City would have an exclusively white sphere of relationships, it just isn’t realistic and not true. This, paired with the low-level sexism that runs throughout it to me is a big reason behind the ignorant comments that leave Ross’s mouth – because unfortunately at that time they were still prevalent in the media and were not seen as being especially wrong and demeaning towards women.
Despite all his faults, the idiotic comments he makes, and the fact that quite often he is a giant arsehole, I just can’t not like Ross and there’s no getting away from the fact that some of my all time favourite Friends moments include him. His repeated mishaps with tans, teeth whitening and leather trousers made me warm to him as a character and his try-hard nature led me to viewing him as a loveable idiot. Therefore I have decided to count to 10 in my head (Mississippilessly I may add) and try to focus on how happy Friends as a whole makes me instead whenever he spews forth a problematic opinion.