Today on Twitter, there was a top story spawned from @thetedfox‘s serious question about the F*R*I*E*N*D*S Season 4 DVD cover:
“Why is Rachel the only one 👀?”
A bunch of the responses were what you’d expect: “Because Chandler is spooning her.” “She’s the only one who’s woke.” “She just realized she can’t afford that apartment.” And a few made me chuckle, then go, ‘Well, THAT would have been good…’ (“They were dead the whole time.” “The show was an allegory about social justice.”)
So, in the spirit of LOVING to be reminded of things I wondered 10+ years ago, along with nostalgia and an abiding love for that show, I’ve come up with a few theories of my own.
Why Rachel is the only one 👀:
- Season 4 is the season Rachel would be turning 27, which is a hella weird age. I know that’s when I started worrying about “adulting” well enough & started to palpably FEEL not-22. My hangovers got worse. All my friends were having kids and getting married. (And me and my Doctorate and impending Masters and one dog and no “real job” yet and no significant other were incredibly confused.)
- And the other weird part of turning 27: that’s, apparently, when you’ll join The 27 Club and die, or worry that you aren’t talented enough to be worth Death’s time. Rachel, keenly aware of the frangibility of the era, knew she either had to make something of herself or all would be lost. (Ooh, imagine the darkness if she would have committed suicide.)
- Piggybacking on this theme: She’s the third in line, eyes open. Her third eye is open.
- Rachel finally decides to live for herself. She starts the season on a strong [read: a lil bit crazy] note, sabotaging Ross’s relationship with once-and-formerly-bald Bonnie. She spent the previous seasons as a pushover, not using her full potential or having much purpose.
- This season began filming shortly after the cast’s very-public holdout for salary increases. After seasons 1 & 2, David Schwimmer and Jenifer Aniston received pay increases for their roles as star-crossed lovers Ross and Rachel while their castmates received no pay boosts. Aniston was seen as pivotal in securing those Benjamins for everyone… maybe that was a nod to her foresight regarding the show’s success.
- This was the time that Jennifer Aniston’s star began to rise. Women were requesting ‘The Rachel‘ in salons across the country, and she hadn’t even started dating Brad Pitt yet. “Capitalize on what’s hot,” said business school professors and DVD distributors everywhere.
- Open and/or uncovered eyes are symbols of truth, while closed or covered ones mean the opposite. A few months back, I re-watched a few episodes on Netflix & was actually more a fan of Rachel than I had originally been. She hit bottom the hardest right from the jump after abandoning her comfortable life in season one. And, yeah, she was vain and selfish at times, but she really did a lot of building. Meanwhile, this easily in the series, her fellow FRIENDS still had quite a bit of un-making, truth-learning, and self-actualization to accomplish.
- All of that, coupled with the fact that SHE’S ALSO THE ONLY ONE NOT WEARING CLOTHES, leads me to believe this is her turning point. No clothes, no identity, vulnerability. Like, she’s crossed the line from a contracted to an expanded consciousness (per the Scale of Consciousness) – she puts herself out there, makes a fool of herself (high school cheerleader outfits, anyone?), gets demoted and turned down, but keeps trying and learning and improving.
- She felt Chandler >bing<. Ok, that’s a cheap one, a restatement of an already-existing theory. I just like that phrasing.
Now, let’s talk about why she’s the only one reclining on the Season 5 cover. Found your peace, didjya Green??
Well, this was a fun exercise. Thanks, Ted Fox, wherever you are 900 miles from Fenway.