An amusing read, just a fact check: the pilot song was Shiny Happy People, which still feels like a dire reflection of culture but not necessarily in an outright fatalistic way. Speaking of the influence of Friends on culture, it feels fitting that while REM, Alanis Morisette and the Cranberries were considered the sound of the 90s during the formulation of the series and thus why Shiny Happy People was originally selected as the Friends theme song. The selection of the Rembrandts instead caused a different wave, one that allowed for the bouncy optimistic sound of The Barenaked Ladies, Counting Crows, Deep Blue Something and similar to dominate late 90s and pave the way for Sugar Ray and Smashmouth, likely birthing the phenomenon of Pop Punk that eventually became known as emo.
My partner also points out the joey quote was taken out of context — he was referring to how depressed Ross has been since his wife left him for a woman, not how boring ross is supposed to be. But I completely agree that when people in the show are like “oh man ross is so boring” he’s usually saying something I’d be really interested in hearing more about. It’s also good to point out that he’s the only member of the group that has not at any point indicated havin to be concerned about money, so there’s a decent amount of acknowledgement in the subtext that Ross’s intellectualism has been profitable for him and provided him a level of security the others struggle to achieve.