How dare Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer deny they are in a relationship

At €1m an epsiode, ‘Ross’ and ‘Rachel’ should be obliged to say they’re more than Friends

Back in 2004, when I was just a wide-eyed boy of 29, I wrote in my diary: “Hopes for the far future of 2021: 1) the human race fixes climate change and achieves world peace; 2) Ross and Rachel from the Friends are together again.”

I'm thrilled to report that 50 per cent of my dreams have come true. And so, as the world burns, I gaze tenderly on the Friends poster in my room and flick through Twitter reports of sightings of "Ross" and "Rachel" in each other's company. Ross and Rachel are fictional characters from a sitcom from the turn of the century but from which, like death and taxes, the human race has been unable to escape.

No harm. Friends featured representatives from all six of the kinds of people known by psychoanalysis – psychoanalysis didn’t then know anyone who wasn’t white, straight and American – and no one from my generation doesn’t know what Friend they are thanks to online questionnaires set by employers and psychology departments.

Ross and Rachel have the kind of toxic on-and-off-again relationship that doesn't in the real world speak to enduring happiness but that olden-days telly viewers loved because of flawed parenting and lead in the water

There was Joey, a priapic simpleton forever asking into people’s wellbeing; Monica, an obsessively tidy cook whose standards drop until she weds … Chandler, a verbose passive-aggressive crank who nowadays comments beneath articles like this one to say, “Why is this news?”; Ross, an angry, entitled, much-divorced dinosaur man; Rachel, an interestingly-spiky-haircut woman; and Phoebe, the best of the Friends, an outside-the-box-thinking chanteuse and anarchist. (I am a “Phoebe”, though I had a “Rachel” haircut for a while.)

Over the course of the series Ross and Rachel have the kind of toxic on-and-off-again relationship that doesn’t in the real world speak to enduring happiness but that olden-days telly viewers loved because of flawed parenting and lead in the water.

Recently the Friends, all six of them, were reunited at the behest of the beloved British buffoon James Corden for a nostalgia-soaked television show that has put them back in the centre of our decaying, forever-looping postmodern culture. It is since then that eagle-eyed voyeurs have spotted "Ross" and "Rachel" together once more.

Let me clarify that the actors David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston, the host bodies of the entities known as "Ross" and "Rachel", and two people who look suspiciously like "Ross" and "Rachel", deny that they are in a relationship. They say that just because two people hang around together from time to time doesn't mean that two completely fictional beings from a historical sitcom have an enduring romantic relationship designed to warm our cold hearts and ease our troubled souls.

Television creators are dream-makers, and when they insist on having autonomous existences independent of characters they played decades ago, they are, in a very real sense, treading on our dreams

There’s an implied judgment from Schwennifer here that I do not care for. Television creators are dream-makers, and when they insist on having autonomous existences independent of characters they played decades ago, they are, in a very real sense, treading on our dreams.

Seriously, each of them was eventually paid $1 million per episode of Friends, and they should be contractually obliged to pretend to be in love because of climate change and the pandemic and the fact I’m having a hard week. I mean, my editor even invented the portmanteau name “Schwennifer”, and it’s way better than my one (“Rass”). She’s going to be so sad if Schwennifer don’t get with the programme and pretend to be Ross and Rachel until we’re all dead. I mean, it won’t be that long if the IPCC report is anything to go by.

Anyway, here are some other things from olden-days TV shows I hope are still happening: Kiefer Sutherland frantically torturing people; the freelance rates for Carrie Bradshaw’s sex column; the A-Team repeatedly preventing Howling Mad Murdock from getting the mental-health assistance he needs; the version of the second World War found in Dad’s Army; Smurfs.

Read More

Recommended