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Friday, November 18, 2011

TGIF: Ross and Monica Geller from Friends


For quite a few of us, we have them. Some of us may only have one. Others may have more than one. If you're a member of the Duggar family, you're soon to have nineteen brothers and sisters.

There's some cases in which siblings would do anything for one another. Conversely, there are cases in which siblings decide to go the Cain and Abel route, where each one plots the demise of the other. Of course, cases like these are quite rare.

Sibling rivalry can be a really big deal though in many families. Particularly with families in which there may only be an age difference of a year or two in between each sibling. My 15-year-old niece and 13-year-old nephew are a perfect example of this, as I can't recall any given time in which both of them made it through an entire day without getting into some sort of silly, petty argument. Of course now that both of them are teenagers, I'm predicting that their rivalry will get worse before it gets better.

I will say that in my own family, there wasn't a whole lot of sibling rivalry. But there was a reason for this.

You see, my family is one where there are huge age gaps in between my siblings and I. I guess in many ways, this could be somewhat hereditary because there happens to be a 23 year age gap between my mother and her youngest sister.

The age gap between me and my siblings isn't quite that wide, but it's wide enough. I don't know whether my parents planned this out or whether it was merely a fluke, but somehow my parents ended up going with the one child per decade parenting plan. They had a child in the 1960s, a child in the 1970s, and a child in the 1980s. Kind of freaky, isn't it? I can actually remember being nine years old in 1990 asking my mom when she was going to have another baby now that we were in the 1990s. She just stared at me, and gave me the dirtiest look.  So alas, after I was born, that was it.

My two older sisters are nine and fifteen years older than I am. I was born when one was finishing up the ninth grade, and the other one was in third grade. By the time I had gotten old enough to attend school for the first time, one sister was in high school, and the other one went off to nursing school. By the time I was eleven years old, both of my sisters were out of the house, essentially making me feel like I was an only child ever since.

Now, as I said before, there wasn't really a whole lot of sibling rivalry. Certainly as their bratty little brother, I caused them great grief by doing some rather annoying things like sneaking into their rooms to play music, or by burying their Barbie dolls in the backyard, or drawing all over their stuff with black permanent marker.

(And yes, I admit to doing each and every one of these things. In fact, I bet if you were to go to my childhood home and dig up the backyard, you'd probably find the decapitated head of a Malibu Barbie buried deep within.)

But because of the wide age gaps between us, it effectively nixed any sibling rivalries between any of us. I mean, I was so much younger than the other two, so really, I was sort of outmatched in regards to trying to win an argument, or prove a point. Being the only boy worked out to my advantage as well.

But there was a downside. Because my sisters were so much older than I was, I didn't feel as though I could relate to them as much as kids who had siblings closer to their age could. And going through the turbulent school years that I had in which I was picked on and bullied frequently, it would have been nice to have had a brother or a sister who were closer to me in age to stand up for me, rather than having to go through it alone. But, that was the birth order we all experienced, and there wasn't anything I could do about it.

Even now as an adult, I know that my older siblings would be there for me when times were tough. Having undergone a health scare a few months earlier, and seeing them rally by my side to help me through did help confirm that. Still, I always wondered what it would have been like to have had a sibling closer to my age. Would we have gotten along great, or would we hate each others guts?  And seeing how my mom's relationships with her youngest siblings are more or less invisible, there is a bit of a worry that one day, my own relationship with my siblings could end up that way.

I don't feel like it could go that way, personally...still, there's always that sliver of doubt. But, I'm not a fortune teller here, so I won't even attempt to tempt the hands of fate with this one.

In keeping with the spirit of this blog post, today's topic will be about a brother and sister team who are a lot closer in age to each other than me and my siblings are. And yes, sometimes they fight, sometimes they compete against each other, and sometimes they give each other bad advice. But for the most part, they love and support each other. And when put in the right situation, they make a great team (you'll want to fast forward to 3:03 for this one...)

As you've probably guessed from the clip up above, today's subject is about one-third of the cast that made up the television show Friends. 

The brother-sister duo of Ross and Monica Geller, played by David Schwimmer and Courteney Cox.

When Friends debuted on NBC in the fall of 1994, it was expected to do very well on the airwaves. It definitely exceeded everyone's expectations, having a ten season run, which ended in May 2004. Part of the reason for the show's success was the brilliant casting of the show, which in addition to Schwimmer and Cox also included Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, and Matt LeBlanc.

And one relationship that I always seemed to be fascinated by was the one between the Geller siblings.

At first glance, the siblings could not be more different from one another. Ross is the elder of the two siblings, and his occupation on the show was that of a paleontologist with a Ph.D. From Columbia University. He has been rather unlucky in love on the show. His first marriage collapsed because his wife ended up coming out as a lesbian (though the union did produce a child, Ben). His second marriage to his English love interest, Emily was doomed from the start when Ross accidentally said the name of his former flame, Rachel Green, during his wedding vows. A dalliance with a Chinese woman named Julie also ended because of his conflicting feelings with Rachel. And as for Ross and Rachel, well, they were the ultimate on-off relationship. He is more into teaching his son about the Jewish faith that he and Monica grew up with, and he is best described by his friends as being geeky and wimpy, with really bad hair. And these are his FRIENDS saying this!

Compare that with Monica. The younger of the two, the career she partakes in is one in the food industry, but she manages to hold down quite a few jobs during the course of the show's run. She worked as a waitress, a sous-chef, a head chef, and at one point tried her hand at a catering business. Monica only managed to have two serious relationships. The first one was with a man named Richard (Tom Selleck), but the relationship ended when he didn't want to have children...a dream that Monica had for as long as she could remember. The second one was with her brother's best friend, Chandler Bing. The second relationship ended up being the charm, as the couple got married in 2001, and remained together until the end of the series. In the end of the series, they end up adopting two children, a boy and a girl. Contrasting from Ross' description, Monica is bossier, stronger, and arguably more competitive than Ross, likely stemming from Monica's belief that her parents favoured Ross over her.

Want an example of this competitive streak in action? Watch this clip from the Season 3 episode “The One With The Football”.

A little extreme, but it illustrates my point.

For all their differences though, Ross and Monica do care and love each other very much, though sometimes it's not quite smooth sailing, and sometimes they make choices that they keep secret from each other because they feel as though they would hurt them if they knew...only for them to find out the secret on their own, and making the situation even worse.

Kind of like the time when Monica started dating Chandler, and everyone else found out EXCEPT Ross?  And how Ross only managed to discover it after moving into the apartment formerly occupied by the Ugly Naked Guy and seeing Monica and Chandler making love through his living room window?

Yeah, that was a little awkward. But, hey, none of them knew how he would react. Monica was just doing what she felt was right, and luckily for her, it worked out well. Of course, if she had let Ross in from the moment it happened, none of this would have happened, but then again, it would make for a boring episode of Friends.

Their early childhood and adult experiences also let us in on a little bit of the background in how the Geller siblings grew up.

Beginning with Ross, it's interesting to note that before his first marriage busted up, Monica revealed that Ross was never the jealous type. That said, Monica also revealed that on most of Ross' dates, it was pretty obvious that his dates were cheating on him with other people. Well, obvious to everyone except Ross, that is. This could explain why his relationships have more or less crashed and burned on the show. Despite this, Ross could always count on Monica being there for him. And for some reason, Ross is quite concerned with his physical appearance, and in both cases where he tried to improve on his looks (by using spray-tans and teeth bleaching), he failed miserably. He ended up with only half a spray-tan, and teeth that glowed in the dark. Still, Monica was there for him, even though she probably got a chuckle from his misfortune.

And Monica herself went through a lot as well. When we first met her on Friends, she was a beautiful, buxom brunette. What we initially didn't know was that Monica was half the woman she used to be. When she was in high school, she was a lot chunkier, revealing that she peaked at a weight of 255 pounds when she was a teenager. Although she had a friendship with the very popular Rachel Green, Monica didn't really date much. The motivation behind Monica dropping all the weight was after meeting Ross' college roommate, Chandler, who called her fat. When Monica, Ross, Rachel, and Chandler got together for Thanksgiving 1988, Monica planned to get revenge on Chandler by seducing him, but it ended badly when Monica accidentally cut off Chandler's toe.

Kind of ironic that Chandler and Monica would later end up a couple.

Despite Monica's struggle with her looks and her appearance back then, Ross was a supportive older brother to her. In fact, it is to Ross' credit that Monica probably ended up developing her inner strength. After all, when Monica was at her lowest, it was through the love and support of her best friend Rachel and her brother, Ross.

Monica proved to be there for Ross in return. When Ross broke up with Emily, Monica was the first one to offer up her support for her brother, and one could argue that Monica was one of the key people who helped Ross get back on his feet again.

And really, I think that's what siblings should do for one another. You don't always have to get along, and you don't even have to like each other some days.  But when times get tough, and when the situation becomes dire, if we're lucky enough to have our siblings stand by us through it all, I have to believe we can get through anything.

Kind of like my siblings did for me when I was sick.

In fact, I'm going to suggest an activity here. You don't have to participate if you don't want to, of course, depending on how fractured your relationship with your brothers and sisters is. But if you haven't talked to a sibling of yours in a long time, regardless of what the reason behind the drop in communication was, reestablish it in some form. Whether it's through an e-mail, a Facebook message, or just a simple phone call saying Hello, just do it. You might be surprised at the outcome, and you may end up reestablishing a relationship. But again, it's up to you to make that move. If you feel that there is no way to rebuild that bridge that was burned long ago, that's fine. There may be reasons behind it. But if it's simply a loss in communication that neither of you know how it became that way...isn't it worth it to try?

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