Well, there came a time in the Friends’ lives when their jobs weren’t such jokes, they weren’t quite so broke, and their love lives weren’t necessarily DOA. And that, my friends and readers, is when they started having babies.
And, actually, Ross and Rachel’s baby came as somewhat of surprise, perhaps resonating with other viewers out there in ’90s TV land coming of age, looking ahead to the teen years, or facing the realities of adult life, and accepting that indeed there might not be a point at which everything was all neatly figured out and wrapped up in a tidy package.
But for situational comedy as tidy and fun-loving (and trendy!) as it came, we tuned in on Thursday nights to NBC and watched the epic (and often quite frustrating in a Shakespearean comedy sort of way) love story unfold: Ross and Rachel. Rachel and Ross.
They and we always just sort of thought they’d end up together in the end. (Spoiler alert: They did! But only at the very end.)
A night of random reconnection amid the on-and-off-ness that was their relationship led to a pregnancy, which led to a baby girl, which (I’m convinced) led to Emma being the most popular name right now…
I grew up watching the show, have re-watched it many a time, most recently on the ’flix in binges, and now I’m a mom myself, and it’s even funnier to look back on 20 things Rachel Green did that good moms would just never do.
Capturing the most uncomfortable of what-if moments for parents and potential parents worldwide, Ross and Rachel managed, en route to their first quasi “date night” / celebratory Friends birthday dinner as parents, to lock themselves out of Ross’s apartment — WHILE INFANT EMMA WAS STILL INSIDE.
Perfectly portraying the anxiety that new moms can feel when leaving their babies for the first time, in gloriously cartoonish sitcom fashion, this is what ends up happening.
Poor Rachel is left so spooked that they end up not being able to leave Emma alone, instead enlisting Ross’s mom, Judy, to come along and tend to the baby.
A few really good nuggets poking fun at what it can feel like to be an inexperienced mom can be found in the episode where the Friends (and Ross’s mother, and a slew of random extras we aren’t familiar with and will never see again, by the way) throw Rachel a baby shower.
The most classic example to be found here is that Rachel doesn’t understand why she would need a specific diaper pale. It’s revealed through a cartoonish exchange with her mother — in front of a gaggle of gasping party guests — that she might have actually not known any better than to leave the baby on the changer while she ran the poopy diaper out to the pail. Gasp!
“That’s a breastpump, dear!” says her very entertained and holier than thou mother at her baby shower.
By the way, why would someone gift breastpump parts at a shower? Were those not always covered for free by medical insurance as standard? But I diverge…
The way it’s set up, it’s as if Rachel has no idea at all about what will happen after the baby comes, including the way that many new moms express milk for a multitude of reasons — the electric pump.
I’ve always loved the way the show dealt with modern mom issues in such an outlandish and silly fashion, making it all accessible and relatable, if very, very silly.
Ah, the pressure of the very first birthday party. I personally feel that social media and Pinterest and the like have only made it worse, making new moms feel like there is a vast bank of perfection they must somehow live up to with their décor, them, and more…
In any case, it felt like a Big Deal (yes, I meant to capitalize that) for Rachel back then, too, and she was very displeased about the whole cake situation.
She actually left the small gathering in the guys’ apartment for Emma’s 1st birthday in order to make the trek to the bakery and try to sort the whole thing out. Essentially, she missed most of the party.
So, I have to dance around this a little, as Friends was oh so good at doing regarding these topics (and I was none the wiser as a nine-year-old viewer!), but basically, through some sort of silly sitcom mix-up, the cake that Rachel ordered for her little girl Emma’s first birthday was NOT shaped like a precious little bunny…
She is not thrilled.
But she makes the best of it. Ross reshapes it, dividing, well, it… to make it look more like the cutesy woodland critter she desired. And so, the party went on… even if the bakery was one that baked, well, bolder cakes than Rachel had thought.
I feel bad for Joey. He had his beloved penguin pall, dressed up in wintery wear. But when Emma took a liking to it, it was set up to be like HE was the bad guy for wanting it back.
Ah, the Joey-centered plotlines… While not necessarily the most riveting or intelligent of the show, they do help to confirm my theory that the reason everyone in the world loves the show is that we can see a bit of ourselves in each and every character. For Joey? Why, he’s our inner child, of course.
Maybe Rachel was a good mom, actually, in campaigning for baby Emma to keep the toy… and helped Joey to grow up a little too?
Whoever wrote the pregnancy episodes, or contributed to them, was pregnant before. Of this, I am fairly certain.
While they were cartoonish and exaggerated, as any good sitcom is (they have like 20 minutes to tell like three entire stories! Whoa.), they touched on some classic preggars stuff.
Like, remember when Rachel was approaching the idea of dating while pregnant? Yeah, those attempts at going out with new fellas did not go great. And in yet ANOTHER moment of reconnection with Ross, she explains that nah, she’s gonna head on up and eat an entire paper bag of candy bars instead.
So… things get a little awkward. In an episode that is very heavy on plotlines involving Joey (red flag signaling it won’t be the best show ever?) and Rachel, the two struggle to deal with the awkwardness that lingers after Joey has confessed his true (and recently discovered) feelings for Rachel, and she has, to put it quite bluntly, turned him down.
How will they talk again? How will things ever be the same?
Rachel talks to the friends in the group, and it makes sense to her that she should try discussing something else, something she needs help with. The outlandish thing that comes out of her mouth when Joey enters the door? That her boss is trying to “steal” her baby.
It’s Monica and Chandler’s wedding at last. The friends look stunning in subtle romantic florals, and it is a special occasion, indeed.
But in the lead-up to the big event, Phoebs has discovered a positive pregnancy test in the apartment bathroom, and with Rachel not ready to confess that it was hers, it must be assumed that the test was taken by none other than bride Monica!
But when the girls of the group get a chance to sit together at the wedding reception, Rachel does something that is a major pregnancy no-no — as well as a total giveaway: She keeps accidentally sipping the champagne that servers bring around, and then realizing her mistake and spitting it back out.
It’s nearing the end of Rachel’s pregnancy, and they still don’t have, like, ANYTHING that they need. And so Ross and Rachel head to the local posh baby boutique and buy all the things, including, of course, some dinosaur items, which really impresses the flirtatious saleswoman who is quite interested upon hearing that Ross and Rachel are not currently an item.
The goods are delivered later, and Ross’s apartment is quickly filled to the brim with all the necessities, which the mother and father for some reason did not even consider gathering together until pretty late in the game. At least the shopping spree fixed it, sort of.
Toward the very, very end of the whole show, Rachel has been offered a job overseas, and she plans to pursue her fashion dreams and go ahead and take it. Yep, she will fly across the pond to take a new job in the final episodes. It is mentioned that there are generous arrangements her work would cover to allow father to visit daughter, but… still. I can’t imagine the realities of growing up with two parents in two separate countries.
As we know, in the end, Ross and Rachel reconcile and stay in N.Y. And finally — FINALLY — the whole Ross and Rachel drama comes to an end.
Rachel is like super annoyed as she sits in that hospital room waiting and waiting as more and more women come and go, experiencing labors much speedier than hers.
Is this frustrating to anyone else? Specifically, I’m thinking of the fact that she’s experiencing a slowed or stalled labor and yet is just lying there in the hospital bed. Oh, TV labors and births… You are just about the silliest thing ever!
It’s like she’s just chillin’, being frustrated and yet not keeping on her feet or doing much of anything at all in order to try to encourage her labor to progress.
Then, my friends and dear readers, there is the immediate afterward. The baby girl has been born. None other than JANIS has come in visit with new mom Rachel, and has her all worked up and worried that she and Ross plan to raise the baby together although not actually currently a couple, there will be less-than-ideal circumstances down the road for poor Rach.
Janis has the Friends fashionista all worried that he’ll get married to someone else and start a “real” family — and then where will she be?
Maybe this is part of why the emotional postpartum Rachel says yes to what she THINKS is a proposal from none other than Joey.
Then, the baby is home, and boy oh boy does reality set in. It all sort of captures that feeling of being a brand-new parent and just not really knowing what in the world you are doing, despite however much reading and research you may have done…
Rachel is just so pumped to be with her new little baby Emma that she does the unthinkable (to the old-school cartoonish cliché of the grandmas in the crowd)… She WAKES A SLEEPING BABY. Gasp!
And yep, that baby is then crying and crying for hours on end, and it’s up to Monica to create the soothing motion and sound that makes it stop.
Again, who out there has not heard that old cliched phrase? Never wake a sleeping baby!
Well, aside from leaving Monica to do the shushing and swooping and rocking, it was actually mom Rachel herself who did the whole taking the newborn out of the bassinet mid-snooze thing. She just didn’t know yet, I suppose, over there in silly (and hilarious) sitcom land that if a baby is healthily and happily resting, that is a good thing — something not to be messed with. Something to be savored. A time to rest, or… take a shower, or… eat something for the first time that day…
Friends, I noticed during my bazillionth re-watching of the beloved show, is really good at that sitcom trick of bringing the really easy humor RIGHT at that moment where you’re like OMG no they didn’t… now I’m just gonna go ahead and cry!
And a classic (if late) example of this is when Ross and Rachel are living together, with Rachel very much so pregnant, and Ross is home for the evening and really, really has to go to the bathroom. Rachel seizes the moment to bring up the question of the complications of their living and relationship situation, being exes and having a baby together and living together — just to tease ross as he urgently does a potty dance.
It is a nice notion, indeed, to think that naming a new child would be a beautiful shared process between the mother and father… that they would come together in unison to choose something that meant something, honored something, and just felt right.
But instead, Ross and Rachel can’t stand each other’s choices. They quarrel over the whole subject at the coffee shop on that classic couch that I sorta wish I had in my house right now (or maybe a less-used version, anyway).
In fact, they haven’t even come to a decision when labor starts, or when the baby is born.
The friends enter Rachel’s recovery room at the hospital to meet the new baby girl she has (finally) given birth to. She does not yet have a name.
Poor Monica mentions that she has a name for a potential (hopeful) future girl, but she does not want to say it…
Her instinct was right! When she speaks aloud the name “Emma,” Rachel all but swoons, and it’s clear what has to go down at that point.
Monica gives her approval: Rachel can steal her baby girl name (which of course went on to be the number one baby girl name in recent years…)
“Look alive, Judy!”
That is one of my favorite quotes from the whole entire show, and it’s from that time that Rachel struggles to leave her little bundle for the very first time. (And as a mom to two, believe me, I get it!)
Also, it so perfectly portrays that whole situation. You are happy you have your mother-in-law there to watch after the baby — but also, do you really trust her to do an adequate job? Maybe not at first, anyway…
As the friends sit for a late-evening birthday dinner for Phoebe, Rachel is distracted by Ross’s mom, Judy, sitting at the bar of the restaurant, who has failed to notice that Emma’s sock has fallen off.
You have got to love that baby shower episode, in which poor Rachel seems completely unaware and oblivious about all things, well, baby.
She thanks the random extras playing her female friends outside of the core group for the gifts and the lovely basket that they are packed into, and is corrected that, well, dear, that is actually a bassinet.
The way it’s presented, she has no clue about any of it, from pump parts to bassinets to how to change a baby to the diaper pail situation and beyond — all as a setup to make it understandable that she would actually be tempted to agree to have her mother move in postpartum to help her handle it all.
Ross reassures her: You got this.
Sources: YouTube.com, Netflix.