We LOVE Friends, if you couldn’t tell. It seems like this perfect ’90s sitcom has a little something for everyone in its wildly varied characters, who are just trying to make it through their twenties like the rest of us are/did/will. Sure, they have issues that most of us don’t go through, but that’s why it’s TV. We can relate to them where it counts, when it comes to careers, friendship, love, and life in general. And the importance of finding a place with a perfect cup of coffee and couch that is miraculously always available for our waiting butts.
But because there always has to be someone who has a problem with all the perfection, there’s a guy on the Internet who takes an issue with apparently-too-smart-for-the-other-characters Ross Geller hanging out with them on a regular basis.
David Hopkins, who wrote a piece for Medium titled “How a TV Sitcom Triggered the Downfall of Western Civilization,” seems to think the ending of Friends — and specifically, the character arc of Ross Geller, Ph.D. — was the beginning of the end of some kind of precious blip in history where people were praised for being smart as opposed to mocked.
“Maybe intellectuals have always been persecuted and shoved in lockers, but something in my gut tells me we’re at a low point — where social media interaction has replaced genuine debate and political discourse,” says Hopkins in the piece. “Where politicians are judged by whether we’d want to have a beer with them, where scientific consensus is rejected, where scientific research is underfunded, where journalism is drowning in celebrity gossip.”
Hopkins goes on to say there are few “Rosses” left in this world, and even the Ross on the show went insane — and not due to the pressures of life, but basically because of his dumb friends. You know, the ones who were stars on TV shows (Joey), built a fashion career from scratch (Rachel), were hugely successful chefs (Monica), etc. Those dumb friends.
“I see Kim Kardashian’s ass at the top of CNN.com, and I am scared,” Hopkins adds. Like part of a (very intelligent, business-savvy) woman’s body is akin to, you know, Freddy Krueger.
I’m not sure if Hopkins watched the same show we watched, but though his friends did tease Ross, they all teased each other about everything. And although Ross was obviously smart, he wasn’t a genius — Monica notes he scored a 1250 on his SATs, which is great, but it’s not like it’s enough to guarantee Ross a spot at an Ivy League school or anything.
Ross also did/said some silly things during the show, starting at the beginning. Like when his first wife, Carol, had to REALLY spell out her sexual orientation for him to get it? In like, the very first episode?
Ross also sort of called his almost-second-wife Emily “Rachel” as he was literally marrying her and the rest of the “not-so-dumb-now-huh?” friends were like DUDE…WHAT!?
And of course, we can’t forget when he went to get a spray tan and came out looking like a chicken breast that’d only been grilled on one side.
And did it ever occur to Hopkins that maybe Ross’ non-paleontologist (a career path he chose on a dare, by the way) friends gave his life balance, and kept his head on straight? Like, he’d probably never have any fun if he spent all his free time in a museum or classroom.
So as much as we love Ross let’s be real: Although he may have been more educated that the rest of the gang, he definitely wasn’t better than or even smarter than them — not even Joey, whose intelligence is totally underrated even if it’s inclusive of more street- than book-smarts.
We do like that Hopkins is encouraging us to think outside the box and appreciate people for their intelligence. But Friends, and even Ross, didn’t not do that — in fact, he was the character who taught us even the smartest people can act pretty dumb, because they’re human, and even those who might not seem the brightest bulbs in the box can save the day many a time.