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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.
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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.