Friday, February 3, 2017

28 Day Friends Challenge, Day 3: Favorite Male Main Character

This one is a bit harder for me to do than with Phoebe because she was so consistently awesome, and the guys change so much through the series that it's difficult to pick the one I like the whole time. So I'm going to go ahead and pick two, splitting the series in half.

Via Hello Giggles
For the first four seasons, Ross was by far my favorite male character. Joey was a moron - an amusing one, of course, but still, idiocy is not the way to my heart - and Chandler was so damaged and incapable of connecting with anyone meaningfully that it was refreshing to see Ross, an intellectual trying to get his life back together after a divorce, sharing the screen with them. His romantic foibles were amusing, and he, like Phoebe, had a life and diverse interests outside of the main group. He was also the sweetest of the three guys, despite his damage. It is actually this realistic behavior based on this damage that endeared me to him, especially now as I am going through a divorce. It's difficult to separate your past from your present, so I understand why he was as suspicious of Rachel's relationship with Mark as he was. That's how real people react to things. I mean, it was shitty that he cheated on her - that whole "we were on a break" thing was so fucking irritating - but otherwise, I get it. Whenever B even somewhat shows a characteristic that Three had, I automatically go into skeptical mode, even if my reaction is based on what I call head-drama (assumptions that come from what I think might be happening). He's been so beautifully patient with me, and we've had some of our best talks just clearing the air.

Then Season Five happened. Like, okay, Season Five is one of my favorites, mainly due to the Monica and Chandler storyline, but the writers completely dropped the ball with Ross. Ross' relationship with Emily was the best thing that could have happened to him; he was moving on with his life, like adults fucking do, and she was perfect for him. She inspired him, motivated him, and you could just tell that he adored her. But then she turned harpy. Now, okay, him saying Rachel's name was not the best way to start a marriage, and yes, had I been in her shoes, I would have been suspicious because the two did date two years prior. But her reaction was just so fabricated. He had never given her a reason to distrust her, and his behavior in the 72 days he knew her had never indicated that he still had feelings for Rachel. At all. But drama. Or something. I don't care. It was awful. I maintain that Ross and Rachel should have never gotten together because they had literally nothing in common, but that's a discussion for another time.

The dissolution of his marriage to Emily was definitely the impetus of the character's decline, but damn, did that decline turn him into a giant whiny asshole. And the writers' treatment of him was just a symptom of the greater problem of Friends: everyone turned into a caricature, focusing on one single element about each character that 100% defined them. Gone was nuance and reality (which is debatable in this show, seeing as Monica and Rachel lived in a huge NYC apartment on a chef's and server's/retail worker's salaries, but whatever). For the rest of the series, we get Ross, the ridiculously neurotic whiner. No, thank you.

And when Season Five Ross became my most-detested character, along came Chandler.
Via The Odyssey Online
Throughout the first half of the series, he was just so ... Chandler. I didn't necessarily care that he was scared of relationships; seeing your parents split like they did would have fucked anyone up. But he really seemed to be a terrible friend: he stole Joey's girlfriend Kathy, constantly mocked his friends, complained about everything, dated Janice because he had nothing better to do (and actually seemed to get a sick sort of pleasure out of stringing her along). This list could go on forever.

But kind of like how Ross losing Emily sent him into a spiral, Chandler getting with Monica actually matured him. Granted, it does go into that annoying stereotype of "it just takes the right woman to fix a man," but this is Friends we're talking about. Minus the lesbian wedding from Season Two, the show has not really been a bastion for feminism or progressive thought. I loved seeing him go from commitment-phobe to starting a family with his wife. Honestly, one of my favorite scenes was when Monica was upset that Phoebe picked Rachel over her as a possible girlfriend and she had him give this speech about her being a "put-together lady."
"You're not easy-going, but you're passionate, and that's good. And when you get upset about the little things, I think that I'm pretty good about making you feel better about that. And that's good, too. So, they can say that you're high maintenance, but it's okay, because I like ... maintaining you."
I still smile at that line. Seriously, they are just perfect together.

And kind of like Phoebe, he doesn't get the caricature treatment as badly as the others do, but I do feel like they didn't really know what to do with him once he grew up. The worst they did was give him terrible jokes to tell, and Matthew Perry did the best he could with the material.

Basically, Chandler and Ross switched places with me, and whose fault was that? Oh, yeah. The writers.

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