Everyone Loves A Good Character Arc: Rachel vs. Monica

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This may come as no big surprise to you, but I am big fan of the tv show “Friends.” I remember waiting for and watching new episodes every Thursday night (back when weeknight tv show schedules were a big deal). When it was on Netflix, I watched all 10 seasons all the way through at least twice. I know it is the most basic millennial obsession, but it’s both entertaining and comforting to me (and a lot of other fans). My husband and I often talk about how if “Friends” were on television for the first time right now – instead of back in the 90s – that we don’t think it would be as widely accepted as it is. Certainly there are story lines, topics, catchphrases, and even whole characters that are problematic in our current society. That being said, I don’t like the show any less! I appreciate it for what it was and for the timeframe in society that it represents.

Today I want to share my thoughts on two of the main characters: Rachel Greene and Monica Gellar. We have a saying in my house that we use anytime we are watching a movie or a tv show and a main character has some sort of change of heart. One of us inevitably blurts out, “everyone loves a good character arc!” I am not exactly sure where it came from, but it’s true. It simply makes for a more entertaining story and a more endearing character when they go through some kind of transformation.

The argument I want to present today is that Monica’s character doesn’t actually arc at all. She is still the same neurotic control freak in the last episode that she is in the first episode. Compare that to Rachel’s character arc – where she goes from runaway bride trust fund baby in the first episode to a fully leaned in mom and career women in the last episode – there really is no competition for who the true heroine is. I don’t mean this to say that we as women should be competing against each other, I just mean that we have here two very clear examples of someone who is growing and someone who isn’t. My hope for you is that you are always growing!

I believe it is simply unrealistic that someone who treats people the way Monica does would end up with the husband, the family, and the life she gets in the end. I say this from a place of truth, because I 100% admit that I have some very Monica-like tendencies. I used to think that life was to be managed, scheduled, organized, and won. But I have experienced first hand that when you put those kind of unrealistic expectations on life and those around you, you are setting everyone up for failure. Your relationships will not be sustainable. You have to leave room for humanity.

Another reason I believe Rachel is a heroine is her friendships with ALL the friends. If you look back, she has truly meaningful relationships with the entire group. She is able to maintain a positive standing in the group as a whole and with each individual group member. She is even able to maintain a good friendship with Joey – after being roommates and trying to date for a blip. Friendships are hard and friendship groups are even harder. I think we can all learn from Rachel that the only way to true, lasting friendships is to put in the time and work.

One thing I do think that both Rachel and Monica do very well is being authentic. Whether they are feeling happy, sad, confident, or insecure – you know it. Both women do a great job of honoring themselves and the stage of life that they are in. They may have had a full on fight with each other over Jean Claude Van Damme, but they at least they remember to be kind to themselves. I also think it’s very possible to transition between the two women (or even all the characters). I think that’s what makes the show so relatable. We can see a little of ourselves in each of the characters. Depending on the day I could be cleaning like Monica, shopping like Rachel, or playing like Phoebe!

In closing dear friends, I wish the most amazing character arc in your lives! I wish that you remember you are not limited to one archetype. I wish that you embrace your stages and your emotions. I wish that you have a good support system. I wish that you find your lobster! ❤

So tell me, do you agree with my analysis of Rachel vs. Monica? Who is your favorite character? Do you even like “Friends”? Let me know in the comments below!

Hugs to all,

Olivia

One thought on “Everyone Loves A Good Character Arc: Rachel vs. Monica

  1. Karen Fickel says:

    I’ve seen the first couple of season. I always thought Monica was funny, but always liked Rachel the best…mainly b/c I thought the relationship between she and Ross was so cute.

    Liked by 1 person

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