This Fun Friday, it’s time to look at two shows we love, even if they don’t age well. While most old TV shows tend to age poorly due to the way they treat women, minorities, health care, and other things we all tend to have evolved about, there are two shows that really deserve a special look. And within those two shows there are two characters who, while lovable at the time, now seem like some of the most toxic people you’d ever meet. Or are they?
So, no one told you life was gonna be this way. That’s the opening salvo from one of the defining Generation X TV shows. In fact it could be the only defining Generation X TV show. Six pretty people in their early 20s get together in their giant apartments or always-available coffee-shop sofa and complain about how bad their pretty, privileged lives are. That’s the way the world saw Generation X back in 1994.
Friends was among the most popular TV shows of the 1990s but it has really taken a lot of punches from millennial viewers the last few years. There’s practically no diversity, no representation for anyone but privileged white folks, tons of homophobia, and a wildly unrealistic view of what it takes to actually live in New York. Probably the worst offender of the six friends is Ross Geller, and he’s the subject of this article.
This is one of those universally loved sitcoms that people reference almost unconsciously. There’s something for everyone in this story of misfit office workers in a dying industry. They come together as a family, as all workplace sitcom workers do, and along the way you laugh at their silly little ideosyncrasies.
The Office is as unrealistic as Friends and it came under fire even back in its heyday for that. The show was slow to address the economic slowdown in its day and even though they did eventually “close other branches” somehow the Scranton branch kept full staff and even grew. This despite a declining need for paper in the world and an economic slowdown that saw record numbers of people out of work. Somehow Dunder Mifflin just kept on going.
Of course the central thrust of the show is that the boss is an idiot and does unconscionable things because he doesn’t realize how much of an idiot he is. But viewed from a lens made in 2019, the show’s workplace is almost deathly toxic and Michael Scott is almost criminal in his harrassment. Michael’s supposed to be the bad guy though… Jim Halpert is the hapless office worker who we are supposed to identify with. Yet, in many ways he’s the worst.
The trouble with Jim Halpert
Jim may have the smiling face of an everyman, but he’s a terrible friend and a worse coworker. He never stops plotting to get Pam even when she goes forward with her wedding. He’s never honest or realistic with Michael or any of the people he supposedly befriends. He even makes plans to ditch his own wedding, leaving guests wondering where he is!
Jim is a consummate prankster, which plays as funny to the audience but imagine working with a guy like that! All you’re trying to do is get through your day and he puts your stapler in Jell-0. You’re trying to sell paper and your coworker wants you to drop everything for some office olympics. Sure, it’s good to have fun but remember those paper salespeople are paid on commission. They’re not selling, they’re not making money. He’s taking food out of their mouths.
Jim Halpert is a terrible employee. He does the absolute minimum to get along and encourages other people to goof off. He was a bad co-manager and did nothing but set a bad example. And yet… he’s still not as bad as Ross Geller.
That’s right, Ross is the worst.
Ross is the worst. He is the absolute worst. Ross is an absolutely toxic person. He’s controlling, whiny, immature, and petulant. He ignores his children, often leaving them with friends or seeming to forget them altogether. Has Ben even met Emma?
Ross is a homophobic jerk who hates the fact that he has to share his kid with a lesbian. He is a terrible husband, even though he certainly has had enough practice at it. He literally calls his wife by another woman’s name at the altar. That is some seriously next-level horribility.
Ross is jealous, even when he hasn’t been dating Rachel for years he still can’t deal with her even being friends with a man. He thinks his career is more important than hers and never gives her the support he needs.
He’s also the guy in the group who can’t help correcting people even when there’s nothing at stake. He’s personally offended that Phoebe doesn’t believe in evolution. Sure Ross, you can forgive her for believing she can talk to her dead grandma but this is off the table? He corrects everyone, whenever possible. He is never supportive of anyone until they are in abject crisis.
I would have to say, if it’s Ross vs. Jim, Ross is the worst. Jim is a goof and a distraction to be sure but he’s not a petulant crybaby. Ross most certainly is.
Oh by the way, if you don’t think Ross is the worst, I dare you to Google “ross is the worst.” 106,000,000 results can’t be wrong.