What if Rachel Green was Rachel Greek?
May 12, 2004
As America said goodbye to ten years of Friends on May 6, 2004, and Greek-America said goodbye to perhaps our most prominent primetime presence in Jennifer Aniston, we started asking ourselves, how would Friends have been different if Jennifer Aniston’s character on the show was Greek-American? The closest mention of anything remotely Greek-American was back in the first season when the girls were supposedly spying on George Stephanopoulos who was in a building across the way, and of course who could forget how they almost needed to borrow a Greek-American priest from the Anastassakis wedding for Monica and Chandler’s wedding. (Incidentally, Anastassakis is Jennifer Aniston’s real Greek last name before her family shortened it.) But what if the writers of the show decided that Rachel (and we can’t think of a Greek name for her that starts with an “R”, so we won’t even try) was a 20-something Greek-American girl living in Manhattan? Would the show have made it out of the first season? Would the Greek-American Rachel have become a pop-culture icon? Would Ross and Rachel ever have been Ross and Rachel?
We’re starting with the assumption that you would make Rachel a Greek-American because, besides Joey, it wouldn’t make sense to have had any other character as a believable Greek-American. You could easily make Joey a Greek-American instead of an Italian-American, with his love of food, women, and references to his large family, but honestly, it’s hard to find a Greek guy who’s that dumb at times… Although, remember the episode where Joey tried to find a guy who looked just like him to pass him off as his twin so he could participate in a medical study? The actor that they cast in that part who was even dumber than Joey, was the same actor who played the brother, Nick, in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, who was about as dumb and sweet as Joey’s character on Friends. As for the rest of the characters: Phoebe – too crunchy and too ditzy to be a Greek girl; Monica – too obsessive compulsive to be a Greek girl; Chandler – too witty but also too self-deprecating to be a Greek guy. Finally there’s Ross. The Ross of the first season was too depressed and whiny to be a Greek guy. There was some possibility of his passing as a Greek guy when he grew a backbone in the second season and during the middle of the show, but for the last few seasons he’s been too much of spaz to be a believable Greek-American.
Having cast Rachel as our Greek-American character, we’ll now turn to a season-by-season look at how Friends would have been a much better show when you put a little Metaxa into those oversize coffee cups at the Central Perk.
The show opens with Rachel having left her fiancé at the altar, (who we’ll also make Greek-American for argument sake as well), and shows up at a Manhattan coffee house (presumably she wouldn’t have had to go a long way to escape Astoria) and finds her old high school friend, Monica, and the rest of the group that unbeknownst to her would become her friends for the next 10 years. There’s that memorable scene at the end of the episode, where the rest of the gang makes her cut up her daddy’s credit cards and become an adult in the real world. As a Greek-American girl, she’d never have done that but the end result may have been the same, when her parents would have probably disinherited her on the spot for embarrassing them in front of the whole community and leaving them to pay for the Greek band and the rest of the overdone reception, while trying to wrestle back any the vestiges of a prika that they’d already surrendered to her fiancé. Rachel’s fiancé would probably not have taken that honeymoon trip with her maid of honor because more than likely it would have been a sister or a first cousin of Rachel’s, and those types of family bonds can’t be broken in the Greek community. Rachel would still have gone on to waitress at Central Perk, because as everyone knows, every Greek girl has or should have some food service experience at some point before turning 30 (and the really lucky ones get to have it their entire lives, because they grow up to own and manage restaurants!) and she would have definitely had second thoughts about having done the right thing to leave a man who she didn’t love instead of marrying for money and security. Towards the end of the first season, her fiancé returns claiming he’s still in love with her, and they briefly get back together. (If they’d gotten back together for good that would have been the end of the show, so thankfully she didn’t do it, and rightfully so. Remember girls, if a Greek guy treats you like crap there’s no going back to him just because he’s Greek.)
As for the beginnings of Ross and Rachel, their first quasi-date would not have been in a Laundromat, because no Greek mother, no matter how much of a princess her daughter is, would have let her make it past elementary school without teaching her how to do laundry. The whole Rachel and Paolo thing still would have happened because she’d would have be going through her Greek-girl-dating-hot-guys-who-are-wrong-for-them phase, which she should have gotten out of her system before even thinking about settling down and getting married, so it just would have been a late onset of the condition. Ross would continue to pine for her throughout the course of the first season, but another classic episodes would not have happened, like the time when Ross let Rachel win in poker because she didn’t get the job at Saks. (Anyway, everyone knows that growing up in a Greek family she would have received at least a working knowledge of gambling through her father, enough to win without needing Ross to have thrown the game.) The season finale would have had her finding out about Ross’s feelings for her, but as a lovingly stubborn and prideful Greek-American girl, Rachel doesn’t go to the airport to meet him, because that smacks of too much effort, and she figured if he wanted her, he would have needed to get up the nerve to actually ask her out one of those times.