‘Friends’: The 1 Story Arc That Had the Entire Cast, Especially Matt LeBlanc, Complaining to the Creators
Friends was and continues to be one of the most popular TV sitcoms of all time. Viewers back in the 90s, and even new fans who have discovered the show more recently on streaming sites, came to love the 6 titular “Friends” so much that they became really invested in their fictional lives.
One love story that every single Friends fan has always stanned is Ross and Rachel. Theirs is the ultimate on-again-off-again relationship, and viewers all over the world desperately hoped through the 10 seasons that Friends was on the air that these two lovebirds would end up together.
However, in the later seasons of the show, a bizarre story arc threw a wrench in the Ross-and-Rachel love affair, and all of the cast members were really upset about it.
Ross and Rachel belong together
Every Friends fan is familiar with the Ross-and-Rachel love story, but we’ll recap it for those who haven’t watched the sitcom since the 90s.
Rachel was still in high school when Ross first met her; she was his younger sister, Monica’s (also one of the 6 starring characters) best friend. Ross develops a huge crush on Rachel immediately, but Rachel, at the time, isn’t interested in her best friend’s nerdy older brother. Rachel comes from a wealthy family and went off after high school to get engaged to a rich orthodontist, losing touch with Monica.
In the pilot episode of the show, Rachel comes back into Monica and Ross’s lives like a hurricane after deciding to become a runaway bride and ditching her husband-to-be at the altar. Rachel decides that she wants to live independently rather than depend on her father (and prospective husbands’) wealth, and she and Monica become roommates. She quickly is welcomed into their group of ‘friends’, which includes Ross.
Ross’s feelings for Rachel reignite immediately, and they end up dating in season two. This starts off 10 seasons of one of the most tumultuous TV love stories of all time (they were on a break!), and Ross and Rachel break up, get back together, and even have a baby together at one point.
The weird story arc that interrupted Ross and Rachel’s love story
The titular ‘friends’ include Ross, Rachel, and Monica, plus Ross’s college friend (and Monica’s eventual husband) Chandler and two relatively newcomers to the gang, Phoebe and Joey.
Joey is known for providing comedic relief in an already hilarious show. He’s flirtatious with about every woman he encounters, but he, as well as Phoebe, never have any serious romantic feelings for anyone else in the friend group – that is, until season 8.
Towards the end of season 8 and all the way into season 10 (yes, this weirdness lasted for two seasons), Joey becomes entangled in a messy romantic relationship with none other than his friend Rachel. Joey and Rachel became roommates in season 6, after Monica and Chandler move in together and decide they don’t want to live with a roommate.
They seem to grow closer and closer as friends, and even continue living together after Rachel gives birth to Ross’ baby. However, toward the end of season 8, they both realize they have feelings for each other.
In season 9, they even accidentally get engaged (it’s a long story), which obviously angers Ross.
Cast members were unhappy about the Rachel and Joey story arc
The cast of Friends were all understandably upset about this random love affair between Rachel and Joey. The actor who was the most upset was Matt LeBlanc, who plays Joey.
He is quoted in Vanity Fair as saying: “It felt wildly inappropriate. That’s how close we all were to the character. I was like, “That’s Rachel. She was supposed to be with Ross. Wait a minute.” Everybody got super-defensive about the whole thing. We went to David and Marta as a group and said, ‘We’re really concerned about this. It doesn’t feel right. We have a problem with it.'”
Totally understandable, considering Rachel and Joey’s long-lasting platonic relationship up to that point, and the fact that Joey is one of Ross’ best friends. Alas, Joey and Rachel end up breaking up, and Rachel, as it was meant to be all along, ends up with Ross by the series finale.
“Once it actually started, it was heartbreaking because it couldn’t go anywhere. It was always going to be Ross and Rachel,” creator David Crane once shared. Poor Joey!