‘Friends’ Fans Are Still Annoyed By Joey and Rachel’s Romance

There’s a common phrase is the television industry known as “jumping the shark.” The reference comes from the classic 1970s sitcom Happy Days. During season 5, Fonzie jumps over a shark while wearing water skis. The negative phrase is used for shows that use ridiculous gimmicks to entice dwindling audiences but wind up alienating them instead.

The show Friends was on for ten long years and during that time, they had plenty of memorable, iconic moments that make it one of the most beloved televisions series of all time. But even the most hardcore Friends fans admit that the romance between Joey and Rachel feels a bit like jumping the shark.

Was the storyline a massive failure, or did Joey and Rachel’s hookup serve a greater purpose? Read on to find out.

Joey and Rachel
Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green | NBCU Photo Bank

The timing of the Joey and Rachel relationship confused fans

There’s no question that Ross and Rachel had a less-than-ideal relationship. From the whole “We were on a break!” fiasco to Ross neglecting to tell her that they were actually married, things between the pair might have never worked out, and that’s OK. Still, it felt more than a little weird to introduce an unlikely relationship between Rachel and Joey while she happened to be pregnant with Ross’ baby.

Even if the two were happy to co-parent separately (which Ross had plenty of experience with), it’s weird to imagine Rachel suddenly discovering secret love feelings for Joey while simultaneously processing the life change of becoming a mother AND doing so with her ex-boyfriend. It’s not like the event was impossible—but it was very, very unlikely.

Joey and Rachel
Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green | NBCU Photo Bank

The storyline felt too easy

Another reason fans were mad about the Joey/Rachel romance was that it felt like laziness on behalf of the writers. In a show with three male main characters, they chose the only option they possible could besides Ross to fall in love with Rachel even though they had been friends for years. (They could have used Chandler, of course, but then fans would have been even angrier).

And were we all supposed to believe that these feelings just developed out of nowhere at the most inopportune time? If Joey loved Rachel, he had eight long years to figure that out. What’s more likely is that Joey was finally ready to grow up and settle down but doing so with his live-in friend felt too predictable.

Ross, Joey, and Rachel
Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller | J. Delvalle/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Joey and Rachel’s relationship disappeared quickly

While it’s never been confirmed that it was because of backlash, the truth is that Joey and Rachel’s actual relationship only lasted one week (Rachel says this in a later episode). Yes, their attraction was building for a while before that, but when it came down to actually becoming a couple, the romance fizzled before it got off the ground.

After Joey and Rachel broke up, the ill-fated relationship rarely gets mentioned ever again. In Season 10, Rachel and Joey magically become good friends again and both are just fine with that.

Joey and Rachel
Matt Le Blanc as Joey, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel | Danny Feld/NBCU Photo Bank

Jennifer Aniston wasn’t a fan of the storyline

One of the people who knew Rachel best was the woman who played her—Jennifer Aniston. The actress admitted that she couldn’t understand a relationship between Joey and Rachel because they were just good friends, and nothing more. She didn’t think the pair would date if the show was real. Matt LeBlanc, the actor who played Joey, was also against it.

Even more than a decade later, the coupling of Joey and Rachel is still one of the most despised in television history.