We hate Friends' Ross Geller 'because we see our own issues in him'

Why do we hate Friends character Ross Geller so much?

The palaeontologist seems harmless enough but for some reason viewers, 25 years after the premiere of the sitcom, just can’t stand the fella.

Sure other characters, perhaps his sister Monica for one, can be grating, but Ross, what with his womanising ways, patronising comments and dramatic reactions, brushed up audiences the wrong way.

He’s seemingly likeable on the surface and is trying his best to be everything to everyone. But it doesn’t work, does it?

Sorry to say, it’s our own fault.

‘In psychology, it is noted that the things that irritate us, are often the things that we dislike about ourselves. Like holding up a mirror, people get angry at Ross because he has every characteristic that we dislike in people, and many of us can relate to his behaviour,’ organisational psychologist Karen Kwong told Metro.co.uk as she served up the truth bombs.

‘We see him in partners or ex-partners, friends and sometimes even ourselves, and this unsettles us as an audience. At times, his insecurity and childish reactions almost remove the humour from the show and presents us with something serious, real and painful.’

As Kwong continued, she noted the character is ‘fundamentally insecure’ and in turn almost tried too hard to present himself as superior to compensate.

She continued: ‘At times, he comes across as controlling, homophobic, selfish, and arrogant and he is secretive and possessive. And more than anything else, his insecurities really manifest in emotional immaturity – in the way he interacts with his girlfriends and friends.’

The poor lad ‘means well’ but according to Kwong, it seems viewers are left focusing on his emotional shortcomings rather than any attractive qualities.

That and, well, he can make us feel ‘uncomfortable’. And no one enjoys feeling uncomfortable. If you do, that’s for another time.

‘He can bring about huge feelings of discomfort as we may recognise some of his less than palatable behavioural traits in ourselves when watching the show. And doing it through comedy worsens this uneasiness,’ Kwong said.

‘Ross is an exaggerated version of our insecurities in so many ways. And whilst no one is perfect, Ross reminds us of this in quite a confrontational way.’

Kwong agrees a long-held view that Ross was the most ‘problematic’ of the six characters. But the other five have traits that are perhaps a little more amusing to us, a little more, dare we say, acceptable. And they evolved in their shortcomings. For Ross, he never stopped clinging to his insecurities much like we can never seem to forgive him for encouraging Rachel to get off the plane.

Rest assured if you harbour some level of hatred towards the guy, know it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

‘Pinning our emotions to fictional characters is incredibly normal and in recognising traits and behaviours in ourselves, on a good day, they can bring about some self-reflection and they can also shape us as people at times,’ Kwong enthused.

‘Ross was the guy we loved to hate and with the Friends revival in the last couple of years it has connected to a completely different generation. They have raised several issues and themes which we original watchers will have accepted or missed – such as the identity of women, homophobia, the concept of diversity in general. And of course, many have seen even more issues with Ross’ character as his behaviour is no longer acceptable as it was in the 90s.

‘He added a dynamic and a depth to the group that otherwise may not have worked. Having someone to hate out of a great group of characters added substance and personality. And certainly a question to be asked is that, if his character was so easy to dislike, what does that character, his traits and behaviours say about us?’

Good question…

Friends airs daily on Comedy Central.

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