Ross needs better friends.
How a TV Sitcom Triggered the Downfall of Western Civilization
David Hopkins

That was actually a haunting thought, when I watched Friends. Ross seems like an intelligent person, but somehow he lacks the intelligence or the bravery to be honest with himself and realise that his actions don’t measure up to his intelligence — one might say he is insecure and therefore prone to act in reflex to his surroundings, seeming to have been conditioned to somehow ‘stupid’ reactions: Why is he chasing after Rachel to begin with? Why can’t he get over it? Should his intelligence not empower him to act accordingly, to find people who share his interests? Instead and in spite of his supposed intelligence, he just is chasing what society (not his own will) presents to him as desirable.

Ross is a sad and somehow tragic character. But unlike the characters of Greek tragedies who are torn between the human law and the law of gods, cf. Antigone, or lack the slightest chance of escaping their tragic situation, cf. Oedipus, unlike those victims* of their inescapable lot, it is Ross, who brings this ‘tragedy’ upon himself. He is assigned the role of the clown, the laughable, the invalid — and by the writers’ mercy and grace he still gets the girl in the end. Maybe that is meant as a gesture of reconciliation towards the nerds and geeks, towards a group of outcasts of ‘western civilization’ (i.e., US society): play the role you are assigned and maybe you will be rewarded in the end.

Well, here is my advice to the ‘nerds’: Use your intelligence not to excel in the role you were given. Use it to analyse your actions, your situation. Question that role, question the rules and the game. If you find yourself in a position where you can’t win, hold on to your integrity and change the game. Above all, find people who respect and cherish you, find friends and enjoy life as it is.

*) Victims, yes, and despaired, and yet not helpless. In the midst of tragedy they manage to keep their integrity, to either stand up for what they believe in (Antigone) or bear the consequences of their actions (Oedipus) even if they cannot really be blamed for it. Ross is none of that. (No, this is not a case of ‘blame the victim,’ since Ross is the victim of his own actions at most. I do blame the writers, though, for not writing a more interesting, less annoying and stereotypical character.)