I am going to do a series on posts on each of the six main leads in the sitcom Friends where I will do a character case study on them. First I am going to look at the character whose crucial choice put the events of the story in motion: Rachel Green played by Jennifer Aniston. Mild spoilers for the first to ninth seasons and heavy spoilers for the last season.
The story starts when Rachel runs away from her own wedding and looks for Monica, a friend she’s fallen out with but she views her with respect because Monica has a largely settled life without assistance from her parents or a spouse. Rachel’s choice indicates that she wants to grow out of her protective shell and she’s ready to face lows if it means that she will have the hope of making out in the real world on her own. The choice makes it clear that her arc is going to be very heavily featured.
Rachel is an example of a trope being done right. The trope of a pampered girl who makes it on her own in the world had been done before Friends but the show’s writers do a great job of blending in her journey with her character. What I mean to say is that we find new aspects of her character while she faces trauma. Her exploits financially and overall in her lifestyle isn’t a graph going up. Her graph is unstable till the very end. There are many beats to her journey like becoming independent, getting a job, romantic failures and so on. Her character is so relatable because many aspects of her journey are shared by others. Her sisters and her mother serve as devices to give us a glimpse of Rachel’s life if she had never left Barry at their wedding.
Rachel’s choice in series finale irks many fans. She has to choose between staying in the States with Ross and her daughter or move to France to fulfill her career aspirations. Many fans don’t like that she chose to be with Ross to pursue a relationship with him. I find this a great character moment as it brings you full circle back to the pilot when Rachel has to choose what to do with her life. Rachel’s life has been about choices and while it may have irked others, what matters is that she is happy ad proud of the choices that she makes.
In the end, I would like to say that she is a great protagonist because at her very heart, she is a beacon of hope for everyone struggling to make an impact on the world.