“So no one told you life was gonna be this way./ Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s D.O.A./ It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear/ When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year…”
You’re singing it in your head, I know.
Friends: the perfect show for twenty-somethings. That theme song always makes me think I’m not alone! I’ve had crap jobs, no money and a roller coaster of relationships too! Of course, most people have, and that’s why the writers wrote the show that way. Still, I can watch it over and over again. I never get sick of it, and I always laugh.
One of the reasons I love it so much is that I can relate to the characters so well. Especially Rachel.
Of course I notice superficial reasons we’re similar. I love shopping and fashion, I watch guilty pleasure tv shows and obsess over their stars, I suck at football and I would probably be embarrassed if my running partner ran like Phoebe.
But those aren’t the reasons I really identify with her. Instead it’s the higher organization of her life. Mine is similar to her’s in some ways: our hopes for the future, the reality of jobs and the realization of how great life actually is. And we share some characteristics I’d like even more of: courage, independence and strength.
I find myself reaching for a Friends episode when I’m sad or too tired to think because Rachel’s story can lift me up when I’m feeling down about my own life.
So here they are — three of the many reasons she makes me smile:
Rachel is not always in a relationship. Sure, she has plenty of love interests, but she’s not afraid to be single either. Her break-ups are generally strong and clean, and she quickly recovers from her minor lapses in judgement.
Her occasional singleness is not because she doesn’t want to be in a relationship — she even tells Ross “it’s not about no guys, it’s about the right guy.” She is sometimes single because she is smart. She knows when she shouldn’t be with someone (see Barry, Paolo, Tag), and she’s not afraid to break it off when it’s wrong. No desperation there.
She also knows who is worth waiting for. See Ross 😉
Rachel works. Despite her privileged upbringing, when it’s time for Rachel to make her own money, she works. In the beginning she struggles with it. She takes a crappy job at the coffee shop, but she does it.
As the series continues, Rachel works her way in to fashion. Her work, her passion, is important to her, but it isn’t all blue skies and puppies. She has ups and downs: her coworkers cut her out, she gets fired, she gets hired, she falls in lust with her assistant and her boss offers her a job in Paris.
Not easy personally or professionally.
Rachel loves her life. I am confident that Rachel’s life is much better than what she planned pre-Pilot episode.
In the fourth episode, The One with George Stephanopoulus, Rachel gets her first (tiny) paycheck and runs in to her engaged, pregnant and successful friends. She finally freaks out when the credit card company calls to ask about the unusual lack of activity on her card:
“They wanna know if I’m okay. Okay. They wanna know if I’m okay. Okay. Let’s see. Well… Let’s see. The FICA guys took all my money, everyone I know is either getting married or getting pregnant or getting promoted. And I’m getting coffee! And it’s not even for me! So if that sounds like I’m okay, okay, then you can tell them I’m okay. Okay?!”
But, like Monica tells her, Rachel is doing “this amazing independent thing.” And after a night of spying on George Stephanopoulus and bonding with friends, the credit card company calls again. This time, however, she tells them about her “magic beans,” hangs up the phone and tells herself “I’m going to be fine.”
And of course, the last episode when Rachel and Ross finally get back together for good. She finishes the series with a beautiful daughter and the man she loves. Happily ever after, yes? It’s at least more happy than the life she had planned (“The One with What Could Have Been” anyone?).
The whole point of this post is that Friends is amazing.
Just kidding. The point is that reality, much like Friends, has peaks and valleys. It’s easy to be sad when life isn’t what you hoped, but you can rest assured that things can and will get better.
And if you’ve read my other posts, you know I am a firm believer that life often ends up better than you planned. And Rachel is just proof of that 😉
So what do you think? Am I crazy or do you sometimes like to pretend you’re one of the group too? Maybe don’t answer that.